A customer had a business objective of replacing their Repete brand of batching and pelleting control system. They wanted to upgrade and automate batching and mixer control, as well as pelleting, with a state-of-the-art and modern control and automation system. Their objective was to improve efficiency and operation effectiveness. Sterling Systems & Controls listened to the end customer and then discussed and proposed a solution custom-engineered to their specific requirements.
For replacing Repete brand batching and pelleting control, Sterling Systems proposed and engineered an automated feed mill control system using a server computer running virtual machines and a PLC based on the customer process flow explanation and flow diagram. Areas to be automated included Batching/Mixing (major ingredients and liquids) with routing to pelleting and bagging, pelleting control system with routing to bulk loadout and bagging, and future expansion capability for grain/commodity/ingredient transfer system to bins, hammer mill grinding and automatic loadout. These goals were as set and discussed between the customer and Sterling Systems in replacing the Repete brand batching and pelleting control automated system.
The final design custom-engineered by Sterling Systems included the following areas:
- Batching System
- Pelleting System
- Bagging and Loadout Transfer
- Miscellaneous Automation Process
- PMPlanR Preventative Maintenance Planning
- WebCentral Supervisory Control
The following equipment was supplied to replace Repete brand batching and pelleting control system:
- Batching/Pelleting Computer with mouse and keyboard, 2 monitors and UPS.
- Network Printer for batching and pelleting reports.
- 60 x 48 x 12 mild steel gray painted enclosure for housing Allen Bradley CompactLogix PLC and all associated I/O to automate the system for batching and Pelleting equipment. An alarm light/horn unit is mounted on top of the enclosure. Panel mount scale indicator for Major Scale, Estop, alarm silence and cooler clean out button.
- CT’s to read the following motor amps.
o 35.0 Mixer Feed Leg 3: 10HP
o 50.3 Pre-Grind Hammer Mill: 75HP
o 60.9 Pellet Mill Motor: 125HP
o 70.0 Pellet Mill Leg 4: 5HP
An Ethernet network was installed by the feed mill to interconnect the PC, PLC Control Panel and the Network Printer. A network was made available for access to the WebCentral supervisory control application for remote system access by customer personnel, and internet access was provided for remote troubleshooting utilities by Sterling Systems & Controls if needed (24/7 support by dedicated software, electrical engineers and the project manager). Both networks were isolated and Sterling Systems & Controls provided all necessary network and electrical drawings.
The desktop batching computer controls and maintains formulas/recipes, ingredient inventories and usages, bin assignments and ingredient locations, and formula schedules or stack-ups. In this specific automation example, to deliver the solution meeting customer objectives, the single scale and mixer batching controller have the capabilities to simultaneously weigh the scale while the mixer is mixing. The finished mix feed is then transferred to the Bagging Bins and Loadout bins semi-automatically.
The pelleting system will control and maintain control groups, inventories and usages, bin assignments, formula locations and schedule table. The pelleting system control group detail consists of options and set points that dictate how the pellet mill will operate. Mill Motor Amperage Set Point; Mash Temperature Set Point; Molasses % Rate; Bypass Crumbler; Maximum Feeder Speed; Maximum Steam Opening; Maximum Molasses Opening; Preset Feeder Speed; Preset Steam Position; Preset Molasses Opening; Choke Activation; Startup Choke Bypass Time; Mill Motor No Load Amperage; Feeder Speed At Low Surge; Steam Valve Open At Low Surge; Fines Cleanout; Feeder Speed At Fines Cleanout; Steam Valve Open At Fines Cleanout; Steam Cleanout Amperage. The Pelleting process screen shows a graphical representation of the Pelleting equipment. Equipment status is shown in real-time and is color-coded. Green represents running/processing, orange is stand-by, blue is for an idle state, and red is for fault. The Pelleting process screen has two process screens; one with the Pelleting equipment with primary destination bins; and the second displays secondary bins where the finished product is not commonly transferred.
Bagging and Loadout Transfer
The Bagging and Loadout Transfer are automatically operated when the batching or pelleting processes are transferring product to the bagging system or to the loadout bins. However, in this specific case it was chosen that the system would not automate any of the distributors which are only manually operation distributors and the customer decided not to upgrade them at this time. The position of the distributors is not being monitored as well. As a result, lighted pushbuttons are included and used as acknowledgments for verification the manually operated distributors are properly set. Other Sterling automated feed mill systems include automatic control and positioning of distributors. Sterling Systems listens to customers and their objectives and works with customers to deliver a solution that works for the customer.
Miscellaneous Automation Processes & Reports
Alarms are being generated and displayed on the HMI whenever equipment fault or a process upset condition occurs. Certain selected events are also displayed on the HMI showing additional information for the operator. All alarms are recorded in the database and can be displayed in a report as well. Alarms will be available for the batching, pelleting and transfer processes. An alarm horn and light unit are provided and mounted on top of PLC control panel that will annunciate for any new alarm or event that occurs. The Alarm silence pushbutton on the front of the control panel or on the HMI to silence the annunciation. Any active alarms will keep the alarm light lit. If there are no active alarms, the alarm light will turn off.
Reports are available to manually print from any data table from either batching or pelleting systems. Some reports can be automatically printed, such as when the batching or pelleting process runs have been completed. The reports that are automatically printed can be manually printed again from the HMI. Each report can either be printed to a network printer or exported to PDF, Microsoft Word, or Excel.
PMPlanR Preventative Maintenance Planning
PMPlanR preventative maintenance software is a stand-alone software application that allows the definition and scheduling of PM tasks for the system to monitor equipment either time-based or upon real-time equipment activation. The PM task tracks equipment usage on running times or counts how many times the equipment has been actuated. This information can be tied to and track how many hours or actions occur on a piece of hardware such as bearings, solenoids, limit switches, relays, belts, etc. PM tasks also will notify either through a report or email notification that a maintenance action must be performed. After the maintenance task is completed, the timers or counters can be reset after entering details of the maintenance task accomplished. Work orders can be created and distributed to maintenance personnel to also track maintenance work that needs to be scheduled and when it is completed. Various reports will be available such as pending and completed PM and work order tasks. A web-based application called PMWeb is used to access reports from the PMPlanR using any web browser.
WebCentral Supervisory Control
WebCentral is a browser-based application that allows you to access the Sterling Batching and Control System database. Any computer connected on the network with the Batching computer and has an internet browser can access WebCentral by providing a valid username and password account. There will be two available licenses for simultaneous usage; meaning no more than two concurrent users can be logged in at a time.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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