SPIN, a Spanish system integrator with over 30 years' experience, is headquartered in Barcelona, with subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Australia. One of its key activities is the implementation of monitoring systems and plant information using solutions from Rockwell Automation.
Through this real-life example, SPIN presents its vision and experience in the implementation of central control rooms and how this solution can become a competitive advantage.
Customers are becoming increasingly concerned with the optimization of a whole process stream, since it is difficult to achieve the desired end result from the sum of individual steps.
By using an overview of the process, users can prioritise and improve in those areas that are having a real impact on the output. Unification of supervisory information systems is therefore becoming a priority.
Here, we present the implementation of a central control room in a new factory, which faces the same challenges that most plants face.
The factory consists of several large workshops. The product is manufactured on demand, in large quantities and has a high manufacturing cost.
In this case, one of the most important challenges is to help ensure product quality is not compromised throughout the different stages of the process, as the product is not recoverable at the end if any defects occur. However, if quality issues are detected during the process, they can be rectified. As manufacturing costs are high, with a commensurate cost of loss it is essential to be able to recover products on time.
Being user-friendly is one of the most important characteristics of the system, which not only makes it comfortable to operate, but also helps to significantly reduce training time and facilitate the rapid integration of new staff. This was an important requirement of the project because of the high staff turnover.
The main goals are:
- Reduce quality problems to a minimum
- Reduce the need for high-level training for staff
- Optimise operating costs and maintenance of systems
The first decision was to centralize the monitoring and information system.
This solution allows monitoring of the entire plant using just a few operators, providing them with enough information to make the right decisions on time and helping to optimize final product quality. All useful information will be combined and available at the same point in order to monitor how processes are performing.
To achieve this, computer architecture was designed based on SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) central monitoring and control, which reflects the status of all processes and can command these processes from the same system.
The solution chosen was Process Control System PlantPAx™ (Process Automation System) which supports the configuration of a distributed architecture and it is controlled and coordinated from one central point. All system services are centralized in the control room, which is a key element. For this reason, the chosen solution was PlantPAx™ to facilitate redundancy from HMI services to communications.
PlantPAx™ Monitoring is supplemented with data management modules, FactoryTalk® Transaction Manager and HistorianSE.
The first module shares data between controllers and databases (including corporate). The second module deals with everything related to ‘historitization' of variables.
Their ability to speed up data processing and storage has become a powerful tool to handle huge number of variables that are managed in a factory.
Finally, thanks to integrated FactoryTalk® Vantage Point software in PlantPAx™, all matters relating to reporting and dashboards have been resolved, allowing the company to link information from different sources (plant or corporate), and give users the ability to create their own reports and sharing via a web portal.
The solution was also supplemented with modules for the generation of SMS messages for alarms and warnings, so the support staff, wherever they are, always get the relevant information.
Ethernet was chosen for the installation, along with EtherNet/IP for the connection to the Allen-Bradley equipment; establishing a control system that is not only fast, but also based on standard components.