Your production facility is an income-producing asset – this is where you get products to market and where profits are made or lost. Your control system is the brains of that asset, and it’s critically important to keep that brain as sharp and up-to-date as possible. Failing to give your control system much needed TLC over its lifetime will eventually come back to haunt you. Here are three potential consequences to consider.Read More
Has maintaining your outdated control system become increasingly difficult, time consuming, and costly? It may be time for an upgrade. Control system upgrades come with some inherent risks of disruption and downtime, but there are steps you can take to mitigate as much risk as possible during the upgrade. Let’s briefly examine five common risk mitigation strategies our engineers at Vertech employ to help ensure a smooth migration.Read More
PID control is one of the most commonly used closed-loop control mechanisms in industrial control systems. PID controllers work great when applied and configured correctly, and they are often viewed as a sort of magic box that can solve any process control problem. To successfully apply and tune these controllers, it is important to understand how they work, the math behind them, and the nuances of the specific implementation by various manufacturers. This post provides an intuitive look at how a PID works before getting into the math.Read More
When it comes to upgrading systems that control the utilities we rely on, in addition to designing and developing reliable systems, strategic implementations need to be planned to avoid shutdowns and service interruptions. In this case, our client had two active wastewater treatment facilities running on aging Allen-Bradley SLC-500 PLCs and Wonderware InTouch. Another issue is that documentation did not exist for many of the existing control panels, and the client had no faith in the drawings they had.Read More
If your systems work differently from plant to plant or machine to machine, you have experienced the downside of a lack of standardization. PLC programming standards are a great tool to ensure that functionality and operator experience are identical within your organization. This reduces training time and prevents costly mistakes. This is a custom world, though, and systems tend to be “the same except.” How do you maintain the benefits of standardized code while remaining flexible enough to handle inevitable equipment differences?Read More
The Santa Elena Mine in Northern Mexico is in a remote location where there are extremely limited local resources. For efficiency and safety purposes, the mine needed to fully automate its on-site processing of gold and silver ore under tight schedule requirements. Because of the remote location, the client required a modular process control design that was prewired and tested before arriving on site.Read More
While no one enjoys standing in line for airport security, we all recognize that the process is an important, and necessary, step to keep travelers and airline employees safe in flight. When an airport is using outdated equipment or systems that continually break or operate slowly, not only is the process more unpleasant for travelers, but it is also less secure.Read More
A SCADA system is not cheap, and it is very reasonable to want the most bang for your buck when investing in a new system. So what is the best one? Or rather, which one gives you the most value?
When all the construction dust settles and your operations staff take over, the most important thing a SCADA system can deliver is reliable and efficient operation of your facility. From day to day operation to handling equipment failures, your SCADA will be the go-to tool for operators to deliver business value to your organization. So how can you be sure that you’re giving your staff the best tool for the job?Read More
Being the guy with the most grey hair (what little is left) in the office, I occasionally look back in amazement at how far our industry has progressed. Look at some of our other 20th century marvels: the airplane – basically the same since the 60s; automobiles – they might be flashier, but still fundamentally the same for decades. The first computer I ever used was an IBM 360 with 64K of core memory and 3 disk drives with 7 megabytes of storage each. You can’t even fit a small photo in 7 meg today.Read More
Modern manufacturing businesses continue to achieve ever higher levels of productivity through automation. A recent Harvard Business Review article estimated that between 1993 and 2007, robots alone contributed 0.36% of US labor productivity annually. That translates to 5.5% total productivity gain over 15 years. That kind of financial impact is hard to ignore, especially for long-term growth strategies.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating the impact industrial automation can have on your business.Read More