“Well before it went live, we had worked out a clear plan for exactly how we were going to use the new versiondog versioning and data management software from AUVESY,” says Michael Mrugalla, who works in process automation at the Mainz plant. “We also had to think about what backups really meant for us. With all our field devices, control programs, drive systems, programming languages, file formats and software applications, we needed to know precisely what we have to back up in case a breakdown (e.g. a power outage) stops production. Because the whole point of making a backup is to be able to recover data quickly and easily when something goes wrong and continue working as if nothing had happened. But that means more than simply restarting production, it also means we need to be able to pick up where we left off with our ongoing process maintenance and optimisation.” It was particularly important to Nestlé that their backup strategy be built around a sin-gle continually active and universally appli-cable solution. And they wanted it to maintain a centralised backup of all the data necessary for both recovery and further development for all devices and all related projects (i.e. every piece of hardware and software). And the programs actually running on controllers need to correspond precisely with the data on the server. If not, the reason must be easily identifiable and the valid version always available to be reloaded onto the device.
Four years ago, when we got AUVESY’s versiondog, we decided to use the software for both data management and versioning. This meant we were able to introduce standardised central data storage, a fully automatic backup system (including backup of desired values), version management with detailed change detec-tion, easily comprehensible documentation for quality management, and, as a result of clear user management, optimal coordination between members of staff. And with versiondog, it works as well in practice as it did in the plan. ”Before versiondog, when something went wrong in automated production, finding the cause was a highly stressful job. One big reason for that was the amount of time that it took. The exact amount varied depending on the project concerned. But, as Mrugalla describes it, where program validation was required then anything between a day and a week could be lost. It was particularly important to find out who was the last per-son to have worked on a program. If that was known, then their programming device could be accessed and the problem fixed. But this was a difficult process and usually meant that full-efficiency production was significantly interrupted. And that was a very awkward situation for a plant as important as Nestlé in Mainz, because it is here that Nescafé is produced for export to around 40 countries. The factory also produces the cocoa drink Nesquik.