Major Controls Upgrade Project Nears Completion

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MAJOR CONTROLS UPGRADE PROJECT NEARS COMPLETION

United Process Controls Inc. (UPC) is nearing the completion of a large, multi-year control systems upgrade project for a manufacturer of automotive axles. Given the number of furnaces, secondary and auxiliary equipment, a key parameter of the upgrade project was the seamless switchover and deployment of new control systems without interruption or shutdown of production. Another requisite was to get more flexibility from the new controls to improve operational efficiency, traceability, preventive maintenance, and to optimize production throughput.

Planning and executing the phased migration started in 2014 and encompassed 4 Ipsen pusher furnaces, 4 Ipsen batch IQ furnaces, 4 parts washers, 3 temper furnaces, 1 preheat oven, 4 endo generators, and a SCADA system. The solution from UPC included Protherm 700 controllers with new PLCs and Waukee™ Valve-Tronic™ Plus flow controllers on the furnaces, Protherm 470 controllers on the parts washers, and an AccuBlendor™ Plus endothermic generator control system supporting all furnaces. Furnaces were similarly outfitted with a number of sensors capable of generating volumes of data that are processed through the Protherm diagnostic tools giving managers, operators and maintenance the power to troubleshoot equipment as well as predict anomalies in the process. The use of redundant probes along with resident SAT thermocouples has dramatically increased equipment reliability and virtually eliminated scrap and/or rework.

The customer also implemented the Protherm 9800 platform to enable total data management, as well as remote control and diagnostics of the furnaces. In addition to its data management capabilities, the Protherm 9800 provides real-time data logging and storage functions that conform to CQI-9 requirements. In a future implementation, an add-on module will allow the company’s personnel to preplan and route batches for processing within the production cell.