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Customer Story

The Hershey Company enables data-driven decision-making with the PI System

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  • Challenge
    Standardize data structures while maintaining flexibility for specific applications and use cases
  • Solutions
    Transform streaming sensor data into meaningful events and notifications
  • Benefits
    Role-specific dashboards for supervisors, plant managers, and operators

When your mission is to safely deliver high-quality, great-tasting snacks to millions of loyal customers, providing real-time operations visibility into manufacturing equipment is crucial. The Hershey Company had already provided its engineers and data scientists with this visibility through sensor-based data and insights. This information helped them prevent material, production, or process issues that can impact its high product- quality and food-safety standards. But the company wanted to extend this insight to operations roles across the company. To do so, Hershey needed to integrate its operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) landscapes and provide role-specific dashboards. IT turned to the PI System.

With Asset Framework, we are able to create uniform data models, perform required data transformations, and easily support edits and additions as the plant production equipment evolves.
Russell Gregg
Digital Manufacturing Architect, The Hershey Company

Establishing real-time data connections

Hershey had to overcome a variety of hurdles to securely connect and integrate OT and IT. To be successful, the company needed to create standardized data-integration and asset- data models. These models would enable integration of higher-level business systems and operations dashboards.

Hershey deployed the PI System as its platform for delivering asset integration and intelligence. It also leveraged the PI OPC client interface to establish real-time data connections to multiple legacy PLC control systems with an open protocol and without negatively impacting performance. When control performance or legacy communication protocols became obstacles, Hershey installed a gateway PLC to bridge the gap. This approach allowed the team to avoid the significant operational expense of replacing legacy control systems to gain operational visibility. Edge devices are now deployed where this lower-cost option meets performance and security requirements.

Creating a standard data model and delivering context

Once Hershey had its data flowing, the company further leveraged the PI System to store, transform, analyze, and deliver the data. Hershey created a digital twin of its machine cells, based on a standardized data model. It did so by using Asset Framework (AF) to contextualize sensor-based data into data models. Hershey created the data model to support its accessible information for manufacturing (AIM) solutions that were built on SAP’s Manufacturing Integration Intelligence (MII) platform. With AF, the company gained visibility into specific asset-data streams and events within Hershey’s plants.

“There are millions of events that happen on the shop floor every day, and we want to capture those because we can deal with events,” said Russell Gregg, digital manufacturing architect at Hershey. “Streaming data is just a lot of data.”

Hershey leverages AF to provide a flexible and uniform framework to collect and transform operations data streams into a consistent data model that can be delivered to the SAP MII platform. This platform exchanges data with SAP ERP and other platforms deployed within Hershey. The PI System is the bridge between the world of OT and IT and is a core enabler of the company’s digital manufacturing collaboration.

Graph showing how data was integratedThe PI System combines OT and IT data in a single one-stop-shop platform.

Providing operations insight

With the PI System, Hershey can deliver operations data and insights tailored to specific user needs. Technical workers operating closer to the assets can access real-time insights through standard visualization tools like PI Vision. And workers farther away can utilize contextualized views more relevant to their functions without the need for deep understanding of the underlying systems. Role-specific dashboards provide machine operators, supervisors, and operations managers with status and performance metrics specific to the work cells, work centers, and lines for which they are accountable.

By utilizing the PI System, Hershey created standard asset-data models that contain valuable data context to fully harmonize its operations data. These data-driven operations insights enable Hershey to deliver a fully integrated digital supply chain that empowers employees to make real-time, data-driven decisions.

For more information about The Hershey Company and the PI System, watch the full presentation here.

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