Demonstrating Resilience, Glass Industry is Latest Market for Radix
The ability to adapt its business model to new industries is helping Radix fuel growth for its IT/OT consulting services. Radix spotted an opportunity in the glass industry, where many companies struggle with outdated data historians and need to digitally transform their manufacturing processes.
“Many of our new customers are referred by sister companies, who see Radix as a valuable and knowledgeable partner in their Digital Transformation journey,” commented Justin Conroy, Radix’ Program Manager. “There are several reasons for this. First, we have great depth and experience in implementing digital transformation across a range of industries. Second, one of our company’s guiding principles is continual learning. When we take on a new industry or technology, we train both our staff and customers to understand the process. Third, we look beyond ‘the project’; we help customers develop a roadmap to success.”
One such customer has hired Radix for a Two-Phase project. In Phase One, the company updated its 30-year-old data historian to the OSI PI System in order to aggregate data from third-party systems and migrate the data to the AWS cloud hosting system. Radix developed both the architecture and infrastructure concurrently, as well as advising on best practices and governance. “Our goal was setting a foundation that allowed the customer to use their data in ways that add value, such as asset reliability studies, health monitoring, and encoder visualizations,” commented Justin.
Fidelity is often a problem for older data historians. The old system typically collected data points every 5-6 minutes. With the PI system, data is collected every 10 seconds. The improvement in data visibility was dramatic. Instead of seeing step changes in temperature and flow changes, they could now see all the different data points in between, which helped them better understand their processes.
“Small changes in temperature and flow rates from different operations are a big deal in the glass industry,” commented Justin. “The PI system will help them monitor temperatures, pressures, flow rates – even scales on weights and measures to know how much raw material is going into a furnace the size of a football field. A wrong calculation can cause the glass to harden in the furnace, leading to 2–3-month shutdowns.”
In Phase Two (first quarter 2021) Radix is helping the company design a batch monitoring system using data analytics, which will allow them to stop feeding glass with the wrong chemical composition into the furnace.
Radix gained a second glass customer, VIVIX, supporting another data historian project, this time using Aspen Tech’s IP 21 as the Process Information Management System. The project tied together many systems, including automation, engineering, and telecom. The company has hired Radix for additional digital transformation projects in 2021. “RADIX has become VIVIX's most important partner when we are talking about Digital Transformation for automation,” commented Nelson de Sousa Pinto Filho, Radix Project Manager for VIVIX.
Training with Georgia Institute of Technology
Radix is committed to keeping its engineers up to date on new industries and technologies. With this goal in mind, Radix has hired Georgia Tech staff from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering to teach a two-day training that covers the glass-making process to its engineers.
Stephen Janes, Project Manager and Licensed Professional Engineer at Radix, oversees the training and the relationship with the University. “To be an exceptional engineer, you must be committed to lifelong learning; Radix understands this. It is vital for us to know the industrial processes of each of our customers so that we can understand the challenges they face and increase the value we provide. I am excited to be partnered with Georgia Tech, and I am looking forward to expanding my team’s and my own knowledge with the expertise of Georgia Tech’s renowned faculty.”
VIVIX, located in the municipality of Goiana (PE, Brazil), is one of the most modern flat glass plants in the world and the only one in the country with 100% national capital. The enterprise is the result of an investment of more than R$ 1 billion, counting, in addition to the manufacturing unit, with its own power plant for the processing of raw materials in the municipality of Pedra de Fogo (PB, Brazil). The plant has a production capacity of 900 tons per day, with a constructed area of 90 thousand square meters and uses pioneering technology for the manufacture of flat glass. Vivix produces colorless and colored flat glass, mirrors, laminated glass, and solar protection glass, having as main customers the civil construction and furniture industries.