ICS Automation AG

is working on automation projects worldwide and has a strong reputation in the food industry. We handle processes from raw material intake to the finished product and implement the necessary processes such as raw material transfer, tank storage and silo systems, dosing and mixing, etc.. More and more often, single machines or plant components are integrated into such production plants, which are then integrated into the production process by us. Therefore, we have expanded our know-how regarding interface engineering step by step in order to provide our customers with complete traceability throughout the entire process.

Buffer and conveying systems

Facts & Figures

  • Busswil

  • Single product buffer

  • > 160 rows / minute

  • >12 minutes
    storage time

  • Schneider PacDrive

Buffer systems

Together with our sister company ICS Mechanical AG we supply buffering, handling and conveying systems for the food and non-food industry worldwide. The buffer systems of ICS Mechanical AG decouple the production from the packaging and allow to hold products or product carriers for a certain time without having to interrupt the production. Depending on the requirements, our joint scope of supply includes complete systems from the moulding machine to the packaging machine:

  • buffer systems for loose products
  • buffer systems for product moulds
  • infeed systems for up to 160 rows / minute
  • multi-line discharge stations
  • conveyor belts, row aligners and pull-noses
  • distribution systems and cross-discharge stations
  • mould turners, lifters, stackers, etc.

Project description

In 2018, a customer from the USA was equipped with a gondola buffer system for single products, which can handle up to 160 product rows per minute. The greatest challenge was the high speed at the infeed and outfeed in combination with the required system efficiency. However, thanks to Schneider's motion controller, the motion profiles could be optimized to such an extent that, after various iterations, the specifications could be exceeded. Since commissioning, the system has been running smoothly and with the required performance. We are therefore extremely proud of what is currently the fastest gondola buffer system in the world.



  • molding speed of up to 160 rows / minute
  • product combined of waffles and chocolates
  • four upstream packing machines (tubular wrapping)
  • two downstream packing machines (tubular wrapping)
  • required line availability > 97%
  • double discharge system with 60 rows / minute

Scope of supply

  • identification of the customer's needs
  • system analysis / plant inspections
  • creation of control and operating concept
  • consulting for safety engineering
  • definition of drive technology
  • software development for motion applications
  • software development for HMI, interface, PLC and safety
  • commissioning
  • service & support with remote access

Hardware & control

  • servo and axis controllers from Schneider (PacDrive)
  • multi-axis system with > 40 axes
  • multiple synchronized & combined axis movements
  • various axis profiles with special acceleration profiles (CAM)
  • HMI and PLC from Allen Bradley
  • safety control with Allen Bradley GuardLogix
  • UL design
  • high requirements for personnel safety during manual interventions

Control system replacement

Facts & Figures

  • Kilchberg, ZH

  • Chocolate production

  • > 50 Process lines

  • 2 weeks
    Down time

  • SAP connection

Control system replacement for chocolate production

For almost 20 years, ICS Automation AG has been servicing various production plants worldwide for the manufacture of chocolate. ICS controls the process from the intake of the cocoa bean to the loading of the moulding equipment, which finally gives the chocolate the desired form.

  • loading and unloading stations
  • roasting plants
  • tank storage systems
  • mass lines
  • dosing and mixing systems
  • manual additions with barcode scanners
  • pumping and weighing stations
  • rinsing and pigging systems
  • iIntegration of various third-party machines
  • quality controls, Q-systems
  • batch reporting
  • advanced data evaluation

Project description

Year after year, various plants of that customer may be equipped and automated with an ICS process control system. A special highlight started in 2016 and included a complete control system replacement for the Lindt plant in Kilchberg, Zurich. The project was at periods worked on by 15 project engineers in parallel and implemented within one year. In addition to the replacement of the PLC controls, various new operator stations were installed and a process control system was introduced. A special feature was the depth of the integration into the ERP, which was a big challenge here. The one-year engineering phase was followed by the on-site modification, which was carried out within a few days and finished on schedule.


  • control system replacement to the latest PLC generation
  • new process control system with SAP connection
  • new process visualization with Aveva InTouch
  • new SAP interface via iDocs & RFC
  • new installation of the network
  • data registration of all sensors & actuators in the Historian
  • state-of-the-art safety standard for the plant
  • historical production data
  • complete traceability through process
  • replacement of touch panels & scanners
  • replacement of the operating PC's with Windows upgrade
  • plant downtime of max. 2 weeks
  • 24/7 support for the entire plant

Scope of supply

  • recording of the existing functionality
  • recording of specific customer requirements
  • creation of a hardware concept
  • concept phase for traceability
  • creation of control and operating concept
  • consulting for integration into SAP
  • hardware design & modification
  • software development for PLC, PCS and HMI
  • development of a digital twin
  • in-house test incl. SAP integration test
  • installation and commissioning planning
  • commissioning & modification on site
  • operator training
  • production support
  • service & support with remote access

Hardware & control

  • reuse of existing hardware incl. Profibus
  • connection of > 5000 inputs and outputs
  • replacement of 11 PLCs with Siemens S7-1518-4
  • replacement of the operator stations with 12 new IPCs
  • replacement of 25 touch panels
  • connection of various barcode scanners
  • installation of several Profinet networks for I/O connection
  • modernization of network and IT environment incl. VPN access
  • installation of 4 server systems with redundancy
  • integration of 5 mass lines, total >150 process lines
  • integration of tank farms with >150 tanks
  • Historian for 64'000 data points
  • audit trail through the entire process

ICS process control system

Facts & Figures

  • Oloron, FR

  • Chocolate production

  • 6 PLC's (S7-400)

  • since 2013

  • Data replication

Production line with traceability

The requirements for production companies are continuously increasing. One of the main requirements is the traceability of production processes to ensure food safety. The systematic division of the production process into individual process lines and the subdivision into defined production quantities (batches) form the basis for such traceability. Today's systems offer further possibilities and an almost complete reporting of the production process.

  • traceability through the production process
  • material and batch handling
  • labelling of semi-finished and finished products
  • tank farm management
  • container handling
  • warehouse management
  • production recipes and order handling
  • reporting and trend curves
  • monitoring of operator interactions (audit trail)
  • tracing of each sensor and actuator (historian)

Project description

Lindt und Spr√ľngli France, with the plant in Oloron, faces a special challenge. The steadily growing plant is constantly being expanded and extended with new production lines. The individual production lines are all controlled by autonomous control systems and therefore represent a great challenge, especially for maintenance and operators. Different control types, various bus systems as well as the diverse user interfaces are just a few examples of the high variance. Thanks to the positive reputation in the food industry, ICS Automation AG was finally given the opportunity to help the customer and equip his plant with an ICS process control system. This allows the customer to integrate the existing control technology and processes despite complete modernization and standardization of the operating systems. Thanks to the new user interface, the customer-specific dialogs and reports as well as the uniform PLC programming, he is now perfectly prepared for further expansions.


  • continuous traceability
  • installation of a process control system
  • integration of existing individual control systems
  • integration of tanks and silos
  • concept for the control of the entire plant
  • preparation for the integration of further plant components
  • interfaces to external control systems and ERP

Scope of supply

  • pre-engineering with as-is analysis
  • specification of the target concept
  • basic concept for control of the entire plant
  • basic concept for product traceability
  • definitions for tanks, lots, lines
  • integration of printer and scanner
  • definition of operator stations
  • software engineering
  • setup of a digital twin
  • in-house test with pre-acceptance test
  • remote access for 7/24 customer support
  • commissioning with process optimization
  • implementation of further phases

Hardware & control

  • server/client system for operator stations
  • standby server with data replication
  • WinCC for visualization and operation
  • process control with several Siemens S7-400 PLCs
  • various PC operator stations for process operation
  • barcode reader and on-site HMIs
  • ethernet network for IT infrastructure
  • profibus network for integration of smart devices

Retrofit & replacement

Facts & Figures

  • Switerzland

  • Industrial bakery

  • > 30 retrofit-projects

  • since 2011

  • Modification & installation

Retrofit for bakery equipment

Retrofit projects often challenge both the operators and the engineers. Since the maintenance and modification windows are usually minimal, proper preparation for commissioning is essential. ICS has gained a lot of experience in various retrofit projects and, thanks to its team size, has the necessary resources to handle even larger retrofit projects. Whether Siemens S5, S7 or Rockwell, we have the necessary know-how to support you accordingly and guarantee a quick and careful retrofit phase with a successful return to production. Thanks to our 24/7 support, you will also receive all-round assistance after the conversion phase in order to operate the systems with maximum efficiency. Our activities include:

  • on-site function analysis
  • selection of successor components
  • dimensioning for the replacement of drive and gearbox
  • development of a safety concept together with the customer
  • organization of modification and commissioning of control cabinets, sensors and control system
  • connection to higher-level systems
  • software and hardware engineering
  • control cabinet construction
  • time optimized mechanical and electrical conversion
  • commissioning and handover to production after a few days
  • 24/7 support thanks to remote access

Project description

The controls and electromechanical equipment of a bakery line, consisting of a pre-proofer, proofer and oven, at Jowa are obsolete and are to be replaced. The obsolete components not only represent a risk to production, they are also becoming more expensive and more difficult to procure every year. This problem also forms the basis for the decision in this retrofit project and, thanks to many years of cooperation, once again ends up as an extremely successful project. Together with the operators on site, functions are recorded, wishes and new requirements are specified and finally implemented in the new software. The existing hardware is evaluated and replaced where necessary. Finally, a lean commissioning, a start of production on schedule and a targeted operator training follow. Thanks to remote access, the customer now knows he is in good hands and is supported around the clock by experts from ICS.


  • restore the production safety
  • takeover of the existing functionality
  • takeover of the setting values
  • transfer of recipes and products
  • optimization of individual process steps
  • connection to third-party systems
  • integration of additional intelligence
  • comply with current safety guidelines
  • reuse of the power unit
  • short time window for upgrading
  • successful and short commissioning

Scope of supply

  • recording of customer requirements
  • recording of the existing functions
  • recording of the existing hardware
  • optimized control concept
  • installation of modern safety equipment
  • replacement of the electrical schematics
  • reconstruction of the control cabinets
  • replacement of obsolete sensor and drive technology
  • replacement of the operator stations
  • software engineering
  • pre-acceptance at ICS
  • conversion and commissioning
  • production support
  • 7/24 remote support

Hardware & control

  • installation of new control components in existing cabinets
  • 3 Siemens PLCs
  • 4 HMIs TP1900 Comfort (via Ethernet)
  • 1 Ethernet switch per plant section
  • decentral I/O modules ET200SP
  • new servo drives and various evaluation devices (Profibus)
  • parameterization of decentralized devices via the operator panels
  • replacement of separate hardware controllers by software controllers
  • separated safety circuits
  • additional process monitoring
  • recording of process parameters
  • automatic recipe transfer to other plant sections possible
  • operator guidance in case of problems
  • import / export data interface for recipes, temperatures, etc.
  • electrical schematic created on CAD
  • remote support via VPN

Fiber cement plants

Facts & Figures

  • Worldwide

  • Cement board production

  • > 4'000 actuators & sensors

  • since 1999

  • Production line >100m

Fully automated production plants

Together with MFL Faserzement GmbH, we work on fiber cement projects worldwide. Typical for FC plants are the high number of actuators and sensors, the large drives in the raw material preparation, the low cycle times despite large loads as well as maximum plant efficiency. The scope of the plant, the commissioning time as well as the conditions on site are a great challenge for our engineers. Thanks to well-known Swiss values such as quality, efficiency and reliability, we are still able to successfully compete with international competitors and convince with industry leading cycle times.

  • control and operating concept for plants with several thousand actuators and sensors
  • design of servo and frequency converters up to 560kW
  • hardware engineering (in some cases over 80 cabinet panels)
  • cabinet manufacturing with worldwide delivery (UL certification)
  • software engineering for raw material / cement preparation (refiner control for cellulose, ball mills for silica, cement mixer, etc.)
  • software engineering for board machine (thickness control, cutting tables with servo drive)
  • software engineering for stacking and transport systems (with servo drive up to 75kW)
  • software engineering for high pressure press (synchronous control, press control with up to 16'000 tons press force)
  • operating and visualization concept (with touch panel, PC stations or in combination)
  • installation supervision on site
  • commissioning, production start-up and operator training (usually several months)

Project description

Fiber cement products are widely used especially in humid regions like the Eastern countries, South America or in Eastern Europe. Fiber cement panels are robust, easy to work with and have a long service life. One of the largest projects we have realized was for a customer from Thailand, where four complete process lines were implemented. For each process line, the engineering effort took one man-year and included hardware as well as software engineering for process and visualization. The commissioning period extends over several months and is carried out directly on site. After six weeks of IO testing, the plant starts operation and is optimized step by step to its performance limits. One of the four plants was also equipped with a high-pressure press, which presses water out of the board after production with a pressing force of 16,000 tons. This increases the density and strength of the plate and should meet higher demands after autoclaving. Along the whole line, various PC stations and touch panels are installed to monitor the line, start production recipes and operate the process.


  • constant plate thickness (+/- 0.1 mm)
  • sheet production speed (approx. 150 m/min)
  • cycle time stacker and destacker (approx. 10 sec.)
  • pressing cycle with recipe
  • cellulose preparation with recipe
  • mixing with recipe
  • simple and user-friendly operation
  • robust control system
  • registration of several thousand IOs
  • fully automatic transport system
  • loading & unloading system for autoclaves
  • recycling of process water
  • raw material silos
  • interfaces to further processing plants

Scope of supply

  • preparation of the motors and equipment list
  • creation of the IT concept
  • creation of the operating concept
  • recipe controlled raw material preparation with traceability
  • motion applications for cutting tables and stackers
  • VFC controlled transport systems
  • control systems for press cycle
  • control systems for drying tunnel
  • software engineering for entire process
  • plant visualization
  • hardware engineering
  • cabinet construction and monitoring
  • commissioning on site

Hardware & control

For each production line:

  • IT infrastructure server client
  • 7 PC operator stations with Siemens WinCC
  • 5 touch panels Siemens TP700
  • 5 PLC controllers (S7-400)
  • >10 servodrives from SEW (up to 75kW)
  • >50 frequency converters from Siemens
  • drive sizes up to 560kW
  • safety technology with muting system

Process control for dairy plants

Facts & Figures

  • Bischofszell, TG

  • Industrial dairy

  • > 3'000 valves

  • > 20 Jahre

  • Pasteur- & CIP-processes