Upgrading your Process Control System

Marcel Benes (Inteqnion) & Hennie Pieterse (hp dezign)

A new breath of Life

Many feed mills have been built before modern-day electronics changed the scene on process control level.  Upgrading your Process Control System might beScreen Shot 2014-09-25 at 6.55.44 pm one of the best investments you can make.  Better control of feed manufacturing operations offers an existing mill a second breath of life resulting in benefits such as:

  1. Higher Output as a result of Optimised Production
  2. In many cases, Energy Consumption Decrease
  3. Reduction in Wear Part Cost
  4. Increased Quality
  5. Increased Profit
  6. Decreased Human Error
  7. Feed Safety (Track & Trace Options)
  8. Extensive Reporting for Attention Directing purposes

Process Control solutions have been developed for plants ranging from

  1. Feed Mills (Mash; Pellet Press and Extrusion Plants)
  2. Premix & Micro Dosing Plants
  3. Petfood & Aquatic Feed Plants
  4. Grain Handling Installations
  5. Bulk Handling Installations
  6. Flour Mills
  7. Oil Processing Plants

DSCN4269How do we do it?

The first step is to understand what the customer has in place.  An analysis of the existing control system will point out the advantages and disadvantages, keeping into account the customer’s management style and market expectations in terms of end product characteristics.  This information is vital in designing a Process Control Solution that will meet the requirements of both customer and the market served.

We would normally do this by visiting the Feed Mill to examine existing MCC’s (Motor Control Centres) and determine how and if we can re-use some of the existing installation and cabling.

Development and design a of a proper Process Control System could generally be outlined as follows:

  1. Analysing the Process and understanding the Operational Parameters (Process Control Variables) that effect
    • how the Plant is operated (from Drawings and Process Flow & Instrumentation Diagrams)
    • the Quantity of Output from the Plant
    • the Quality of Output from the Plant
    • a visit to the feed mill is vital
  2. Analyse and quantify all Instrumentation & Sensing Devices (field components) sensing the process operational parameters (these output signals become the input signals for the automation system) such as:
    • Temperature
    • Pressure
    • Moisture Content
    • Flow Rates
    • Motor Loads
    • Motor Speed
    • Weight readings from Load Cells
    • Other Signals
  3. Analyse and quantify the Current Electrical Control System
    • especially the MCC’s including all it motor groups, frequency converters and all connected cabling
    • Look which MCC / motor groups can be reused (or leave in place)
    • View if there is enough space to place Remote I/O for connecting signals to the automation
    • Consider if some motors should be more effective when RPM is controlled by a frequency converter
    • Survey the cabling system
    • Position Touch Panels near important machines like pellet presses and extruders
    • Signals from Instrumentation and Sensing Devices are sent to Process Control Hardware 
      • Signal Conversion and Automation via PLC’s
      • MCC’s (Motor Control Centres), Distribution Panels and Touch Panels
      • Cabling & Cable Trays
      • Feed Mill Computer(s)
  4. Design the Process Control System & Software
    • The automation system is built up of the following:
      • PLC’s (Programmable Logic Controllers) PLC’s are used for the direct control of Electric Motors, Slides, valves, etc.  Main operational tasks are given to the PLC which makes PLC’s responsible for the actual of the process and its parameters.
      • SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition).  the SCADA system full fills two main functions:
        1. It gives a Visual Overview of the Feed Mill; all the processing equipment; equipment status (running or not) as well as the actual and required parameters to alarms.
        2. It forms the link between the PLC and the Feed mill Server / PC
      • Process Control Software (Batch Explorer) for overall control of the Plant and includes functions such as:
        1. Administration such as raw material & bin management and inventory control
        2. Formulation management of all products produced
        3. Product orders for fully automated production
        4. Reports covering inventory, production, out loading
        5. Tracking & Tracing from raw material / supplier to finished product / customer (and vice versa)
        6. ‘Batch Explorer’ is a Manufacturing Execution Software (MES) by Inteqnion especially developed for feed mills. More than 50 installations are successfully used by Feed Mills around the world.
        7. Optional interfaces to ERP or formulation software such as Bestmix is possible.
        8. ‘Batch Explorer’ sends its orders through SCADA to the PLC, which will do the actual control of the processing equipment.
  5. Implementation of the Automation Steps above
    • It is our goal to switch from a manual or existing control system to a fully automated system with minimum disruption of operational activities and production output from the plant.

Online Support

The internet changed the world!  It also makes it possible to remotely assist and support an automated Process Control System 24 hours per day and 7 days per week.

Need an improved Process Control System?  Contact us today to learn how Inteqnion can help getting a new breath of life into your existing Plant.