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Orlando Bakery


Our first good opportunity to sell Siemens S5 based on capability came from the the Orlando Baking Company. They were interested in our ability to control 64 PID loops from one controller. The “R” processor was just introduced when we quoted the system.We committed to excessive tech support to insure success. Anderson-Bolds would not permit me to write code and we had no integrators ready so they asked me to help during my off hours. Firewings Systems was born from this Orlando need.

AUTOMATING THE OVENS Success after success turned John Orlando from a skeptic to a believer. We sold sensors, valves, operator interfaces, and Siemens S5 PLC on every project. A line designed to form 4 products was modified to run 17. Unique solutions to automation issues became a common occurrence. John stopped sharing information with competitors as our reputation grew. An automation team formed within the maintenance staff.

LINKING THE LINES The automation team formed the new plant engineering department. Key members brought many ideas back from “Bakery Engineering School.” We approached them with a plan to make the plant self-sufficient within 5 years. The central control theory gave way to a coordinated network scheme. The 95U fit the forming equipment needs perfectly. Our flour delivery system became the fastest in the industry.

MODULAR TRAINING DEVELOPED Two 4-hour windows per week were scheduled for training. We designed a program to cover a different topic at each session. Each module built off the previous. Breaks in the schedule were routine. A review session brought us back on track. Brian began writing ladder code, Chris made the drawings, and I focused on HMI and networking.

After 5 years as my top customer, my role decreased as their competence increased to the point where major projects were my main need. September 11th killed the restaurant business and crippled the bakery. I moved on to the next challenge.

PROTOTYPE FOR THE FUTURE A skilled maintenance staff can modify their equipment with programming assistance. The dynamics of the 15-year run as software engineering consultant brought valuable insight and experience that could rarely be found elsewhere. Tech advances are relentless, fueled by fresh ideas and energy. The automation life cycle came full circle. Rapid initial growth, turned to optimization, gave way to maintaining control, which slid to keep the equipment running.