Mineral Processing Control


Many materials are valuable and require automated control. Mineral processing control is especially important for high-value minerals, such as calcium carbonate. EspeciallyProcess Control Screen Sample calcium carbonate of a highly pure nature. In this application example a customer needed to efficiently automate the control of their mineral milling process. Extensive mineral processing control needed to be custom-engineered to meet the customer’s very specific objectives. How large of a processing operation?  We can’t reveal too much but just suffice to say the P&ID is at least a dozen sheets with hundreds of measuring and process control points. Needless to say, mineral processing control can require extensive equipment and automation.

Sterling Systems & Controls worked with the customer and listened to them as they described their objectives over several discussions. Sterling’s dedicated engineering employees worked as a team with a project manager leading and involved from the point of sale through beyond start-up, and they continue involvement running point working with the customer to make modifications and updates so that the process automation and control system works to optimize the process and end product, efficiency and profitability. The Sterling Systems & Controls automation system included:

  • One (1) PLC Main Control Panel
  • Three (3) Operator Stations
  • Twelve (12) UL Listed Ethernet I/O PLC Control Panels
  • Six (6) MCC back panels with PLCs
  • Sterling Systems’ state-of-the-art .NET application software including Process Screens, Recipe/Formula Screens and Real-Time Trending and Troubleshooting Screens
  • Sterling Systems’ PMPLanR Preventative Maintenance Planning Software Application
Service Tag Screen

The Mineral Processing Control and Automation System is configured with seven (7) Sterling .NET workstations, three (3) in the control room with dual monitors on each, one (1) engineering workstation in the IT room, and three (3) workstations on the production floor. There is an HMI/Data network and another PLC/IO/Drives network to maximize overall network efficiency.

The three (3) HMI operator control stations located on the production floor in the packaging and loadout areas are supplied in NEMA4/12 mild steel, wall-mounted enclosures, with NEMA4/12 vortex coolers. Inside each panel is a thin client connected to a virtual machine that resides in the control room. Each HMI Touchscreen Panel displays Sterling Systems .NET software and is located on the processing floor near each area of its control.

Mineral Processing Control
Mineral Processing Controls

From the HMI PC workstations, the operator can define operating parameters including alarm set-points, ingredients, ingredient parameters, formula/set-points with required ingredients and their weights. The software can have multiple security levels.

To receive operating parameters the virtual machines communicate via the Ethernet HMI network to a PLC that is mounted in the control room. The PLC interfaces with the Ethernet IO, MCC PLC racks/modules, as well as the VFD’s on the PLC network. There are two dedicated networks, one for HMI communication and the other for PLC/VFD communication. They interface with MCC buckets and the 120-volt 60 Hz and 4-20 ma signals to the batching and process control equipment.

As part of Sterling Systems’ standard support to all customers with Sterling software, the PLC and HMI programs are easily modified via VPN access eliminating costly service calls. All of the components and software used are non-proprietary and are available from hundreds of suppliers.

All HMI screens conform to ISA101, ISO11064-5, and ASM standards and guidelines. All communication protocols between thin clients and host machines will be RDP.


Working With Us

Give us a call today to talk about your business and process objectives and see how Sterling Systems & Controls can provide a custom engineered solution.  You can reach us by phone at 1-815-625-0852, toll-free in the USA 1-800-257-7214, or by email at sci@sterlingcontrols.com.