This ongoing project designs and maintains the automation of the General Mills flour milling facility in Great Falls, MT, which produces 1.2 million pounds of flour daily.
ECI staff have maintained and updated the mill’s automation system since 1991, when the manual controls were first removed and replaced with Allen-Bradley PLC-5 Controllers. By 2001, the Great Falls mill was the most automated mill under the General Mills banner and continues today to be a technology leader within the industry. Since then, the same staff have maintained and upgraded the system as needed, including the addition of an entirely new mill running parallel beside the first, automation of the wheat tempering systems and grain storage facilities.
The system utilizes both Allen-Bradley ControlLogix and PLC-5 processors. There are a total of six different PLCs responsible for different aspects of the process, all interfacing with each other fully to maintain seamless control of the entire process. For HMI, the system consists of seven separate workstations running Wonderware InTouch, giving operators quick and easy access to the system from almost any location within the mill. Operators can control recipes, product conveyance, tempering operations, and packaging systems from these central locations.
ECI staff has maintained and monitored this facility’s automation system for the past 25 years, providing upgrades in a timely and efficient manner.