“WinCos” is the new conductor’s name

28.05.2008 The new, extremely user-friendly WinCos automation system from Buhler ensures data transparency and an optimal utilization of available resources. The success of the plant solutions developed by Buhler lies in the strength and durability of all the components used and in their perfectly harmonized interaction within the plant as a whole. The “Buhler” philosophy is to create a symphony composed of production technology, plant design and engineering, and process mastery. The harmony that all the individual instruments produce together is ensured by the conductor – the automation system.

From WinCoS to WinCos
In 2000, Buhler caused a splash worldwide when it rolled out its WinCoS automation concept. Ever since, this system has proven its worth in the day-to-day operation of hundreds of production plants. Marcel Scherrer, head of business development and automation in the Milling business unit, says the secret of the success of WinCoS up to now has been its use of tried-and-true, commercially available hardware and software components; functions optimally tailored to the process; and high operating reliability.” The basic system is then customized in close cooperation between the Buhler automation specialists and the customer. Various options are available for this in the form of modules. WinCoS has been further refined since it was launched in 2000. At the Wolfsberg Milling Convention, Buhler will now for the first time present its freshly developed WinCos.

Data transparency
In developing WinCos, the Buhler engineers and information technologists focused on meeting the challenges that the flour milling industry is currently facing. Marcel Scherrer: “Two changes in the business environment are bothering flour millers worldwide. On one hand, energy costs are soaring, and on the other hand an increasing amount of money has to be spent on the raw materials.” To minimize the cost of energy and raw materials, accurate knowledge of the production data is crucial. “In developing our process automation system, we therefore set a focus on data transparency,” explains Marcel Scherrer, describing the philosophy underlying the completely redesigned WinCoS system. “Plant operators must know exactly where energy is consumed, how much is used, and how high process efficiency is. Moreover, WinCos was to enable plant operators to configure the user interface to suit their individual needs.”

Universal application
The new WinCos automation concept meets all the requirements. “Our new automation system provides full data transparency and can be used intuitively and interactively,” explains Marcel Scherrer. “The WinCos system works like the conductor of an orchestra who merges numerous highly qualified players of different instruments into a team that achieves top efficiency and performance under his direction.” Like WinCoS, WinCos is based on the products of world market leaders Microsoft and Siemens. Like WinCoS, also WinCos can be applied for all Buhler processes and by all Buhler automation specialists worldwide.

Modular system
Buhler applied the modular design principle also to the new WinCos system. On the basis of eight main categories with a total of more than 80 different functions, the configuration can be tailored to the specific requirements of every individual plant. This makes WinCos universally scalable. Mike Häfeli, sales manager in the Milling Automation department: “Our new automation system can be used for any plants, regardless of their size, design, and complexity. Its hardware and software can be cumulated and combined without restrictions. Now, all peripherals such as analytical devices, scales, or machine control systems can be integrated online.” WinCos has been systematically developed on the basis of the add-on principle. This means that an existing automation solution can be readily adjusted to changes in needs whenever required.

More than just a control system
The new Buhler WinCos automation system is more than just a simple control system. It automatically fulfills the planning function for product lines and then also performs it. WinCos records all production operations and individual data and generates the necessary reports for all devices and machines. The system also creates the production statistics and determines the key production indicators. One of the special features is the WinCoS.Intelligent Route Navigation function: At the user’s command, the WinCos will choose the best route from among the available elements, depending on whether the goal is to optimize energy consumption or the plant capacity. The reports and statistics created can be exported to the MS Office format, thanks to standardized interfaces. This allows offline data analysis. Continuous production logging enables users to pass on information to the next work shift – by a simple “post-it” function.

Product safety and production reliability
The new Buhler WinCos automation system enhances product safety and increases production reliability. The WinCoS.Recipe management system contains all the versions and variants of the recipes selected. It also creates a separate report on all production lots showing all the related production data. This ensures the reproducibility of each single product unit made. In addition, in the AuditLog, each single operator intervention and also each automatic adjustment of parameters and values performed by WinCos is saved and logged. This enables the production process of each batch to be retraced whenever required. It is almost needless to say that this information on product safety and production reliability can be graphically displayed on the WinCos system at the push of a button.

Individual selection of settings
WinCos offers individual plant operators even more Buhler innovations,since the design of WinCos allows users to configure the user interface according to their own personal preferences. Two different font sizes are available. In addition, it is possible to modify and rearrange the sequence of the report columns at any time. Thus, the colored display of the individual product streams makes for clarity and convenience. Different colors of the different alarm states allow the plant manager to focus on the essentials.

Sharing responsibility in the development of WinCos: Marcel Scherrer (right), head of business development and automation in the Milling business unit, and Mike Häfeli, sales manager of the Milling Automation department. Sharing responsibility in the development of WinCos: Marcel Scherrer (right), head of business development and automation in the Milling business unit, and Mike Häfeli, sales manager of the Milling Automation department.