User-centric SCADA and MES for MEA Production
Ballard Power Systems, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, is one of the world’s largest producers of hydrogen fuel cells, including membrane electrode assemblies, air and liquid cooled stacks, and complete power generation modules.
With research centres and production sites in Canada, the European Union, and China, they aim to be at the forefront of the global transition to clean hydrogen as a fuel in land and sea transport, as well as a wide range of industrial uses.
The customer needed to improve visibility of operations, minimize data entry, track cycle time, and have all of this centrally monitored and integrated with their ERP system. The entire process should be fully compliant with standards such as ISA-95, all regulatory quality standards, and track the full genealogy of parts to reduce waste, scrap, and overages. Furthermore, they wanted to standardise work procedures and ensure repeatable performance while eliminating the need for lengthy trainings and manuals.
Using AVEVA™ Application Server, we designed a system that fully overviews and presents the appropriate data to operators and supervisors in a context-relevant way.
The relevant data can be constantly monitored using summary panels with current progress indicators, while still offering the operator a custom-made screen grid and shortcuts to all relevant functionalities. Even if operators need access to information that is not immediately available, the interface is structured in a way that minimises complexity and time required to reach any piece of information.
The way we structured and implemented the system enables the operators and supervisors to only ever interact with one piece of software – the AVEVA™ Operations Management Interface. Everything else is handled in the background by interconnected parts of the AVEVA™ System Platform.
We minimised the need for manual entry using human-centered user experience design, giving the operators the ability to see, select, and use the information that is immediately relevant to their task. This reduces the onboarding time of new operators by ensuring the system is clear, easily understandable, and intuitive to use.
The system was successfully implemented using transparent deployment practices on a portion of the MEA production line and is now being expanded to the rest of the production process. Initial results show increased performance and significant time and material savings through the automation of existing manual processes and better overview of the factory floor – the pilot line alone accounts for $100,000 CAD in savings over one year. The instant feedback on the operator interface allows for on-the-fly adjustments without lengthy analyses and disruptions of the production process.
“The team inspired excellence by providing training and support, reviewing operator feedback, and implementing enhancements throughout the pilot. Focusing on situational awareness, improving screen layout of information and controls pertinent to the operator are key to ensuring software adoption.”
Martin Chow, Operational Technology Manager