New SCADA and OEE for Ariens, Maker of Four Million Snow Blowers

6 min video  /  5 minute read

Project Scope

  • Tags: 3,675 device tags and 8,591 live analysis tags
  • Screens: nine Perspective pages
  • Clients: Unlimited, to ensure flexibility with internal personnel
  • Alarms: 360 total, 3 per device
  • Devices used: 116 Horner XL7 PLC (Modbus TCP Driver), 4 Bystronic Barke Presses (ByVision Bending, Onboard PCC-UA Server)
  • Architectures used: Standard
  • Databases used: 3 SQL Server, general/application configuration, Historian, Sepasoft MES
  • Historical data logged: 7,582,382 rows and 1,680 tags

Project Overview

Ariens has a state-of-the-art landscaping equipment production facility that includes industry-leading machinery and manufacturing principles, but its data-gathering process was falling behind. The company was able to offer highly granular data, but the data came at the cost of time, meaning any insight gained lagged behind. Ariens brought Corso Systems in to take the OEE data collection process from pen and paper to automated real-time results using Ignition Perspective and the Sepasoft OEE Module.



The process for the operators at Ariens was to track all produced parts and scrap by hand. Once the data was tracked, it was then collected into a digital format via manual data entry. The final step of the process was to take the data and leverage highly complex tables to service the efficiency of the work center, and the data was aggregated to determine the overall plant efficiency.

Manual data collection from the operators, while effective in the past, was dated and needed to be addressed. The errors from the manual entry easily multiplied across the various translations. Operators might make an error when transcribing a part count, analysts might input the wrong value when translating to a digital format, and there was room for additional error when driving the data calculations through unlocked open forms. This stacking of potential errors left Ariens exposed to risk that it could no longer tolerate.



Ariens was already in the process of installing Horner XL7 PLCs to 116 machines (welders, laser cutters, brake presses, paint booths, assembly areas, mills, etc.) with the purpose of collecting as much data as efficiently as possible. The new process was for the operators to scan their physical work orders for each production run from manufacturing orders that come directly from the ERP. All the information gathering was triggered from one barcode scan; then the PLC and Ignition handled the rest.

Ariens worked with Corso Systems to handle taking the data and creating a real-time OEE engine for analysis from the plant level all the way down to the individual work center. Within that scope of work there were several major areas of focus: connectivity, PLC interaction, ERP interaction, data processing, and visualization. With the connectivity portion, Corso was tasked with assisting the Ariens crew on troubleshooting connectivity from the hardware side, and was able to confirm once the machines were online.

The PLC interaction was much more involved as the Corso team and the Ariens team needed to work side by side from opposite ends of the line of communication to make sure that the two programs were speaking different languages while communicating through the proper translation. Corso needed to make sure that all of the parts counters, operator scans, scrap counters, manual adjustments, and timestamps coming from the PLC were high-quality data points — and used Ignition to validate that process.

Interaction with the ERP streamlined the disparate data sources. The manufacturing order is scanned, and on the fly, that number is then sent back to the ERP to gather all the information regarding that part or parts, depending on the process. All the information regarding the engineering studies performed is stored in the ERP and it keeps everything centralized. With having the one data source, Corso was able to eliminate potential noise when translating from one system to another. The ERP connection also served as an endpoint to handle associating the operators’ RFID badges with their employee identification numbers, so that every operation is not only tracked to the work center but also the individual. Upon process completion, the part counts are passed back up to the ERP to update inventory, aiding the scheduling and planning side of the operation.

Once all the information coming in had the proper designations coming up from the PLC and going out to the ERP, the Corso team was able to incorporate everything into the Sepasoft Production Model to perform the analysis and calculate real-time OEE for general and granular aspects of the plant.

One of the most important pieces of the project was to not only display the information pulled together from all of the machines, operators, and ERP; Corso also needed a way to visualize everything in a clear, understandable format that high-level executives and on-the-floor operators all understood at a glance. Corso was able to create a navigation system that allowed the user to glide through the different scopes of the plant and also adjust the metrics that they were viewing (performance, availability, downtime, quality, OEE). Either can be adjusted on the fly, scope, or analysis metric in order to allow flexibility when comparing work centers to each other and looking at the different metrics for each work center. Mix in the navigational strategy with custom screens and a dashboard widget created custom by each user and saved to their profile, and Corso was able to create an efficient, high-power visualization scheme for the Ariens team.



The result of the project is taking a company from pen and pad to on-the-fly, real-time understanding of what is happening on the plant floor. With the ability to see high-level overviews and drill into each line, work center, and employee, management can take action to effect change for the good of the company at a much higher rate. Throughout the process, there were moments of reflection for both the Ariens and Corso teams to adjust procedures and grow as companies and individuals.

Project Information

Created By:   Corso Systems

Corso Systems is a system integration company living at the intersection of people, information, and technology. Each of these things is as vital to Corso’s business as it is for Corso’s customers. Corso is focused on learning, growing, and increasing the amount of information at its disposal. The company creates, uses, and respects technology. Whether it be software, robotics, tools, or simply a new way of presenting something familiar, technology transforms the world and amplifies capabilities.


Project For:   Ariens Co.

Ariens outdoor power equipment has been the choice of discerning homeowners for nearly 90 years. Tough and easy to operate, Ariens products deliver a heritage of reliable performance, year after year. The brand offers both lawn and garden and snow removal equipment. On the snow side of the business, the Ariens Sno-Thro is the best-selling brand of two-stage snow throwers in the world. Overall, Ariens has sold four million snow blowers in its history.

Posted on October 1, 2021