Humans have naturally looked upon and solved problems using a three-stage process: sense, think and act. For instance, whenever humans encounter something as simple as cloudy weather, they sense impending rainfall, think about taking shelter, and ultimately do so by taking abode under anything with a roof. All these steps take no input from others and rely solely on the person’s own capabilities.
Contrary to popular belief, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are as prevalent as ever. Even the introduction of concepts such as Industrial IoT have done little to harm the legacy controller; in fact, it has forced OEMs to bring positive changes to PLCs and other PC-based controls, ensuring they keep up with modern requirements.
A proactive approach is gaining popularity among companies who wish to keep their automation infrastructure up to date. Waiting for end-of-life to approach simply erodes the competitive edge of a company giving room for others to grow and takes away prospective business. Plant managers simply can’t afford this, and thus can’t adopt a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to adding automation assets.
The lifetime of electronic components is rapidly shrinking, something that requires frequent software & hardware updates. If too much delay is created, other factors can also set-in, such as difficulty in finding personnel qualified to troubleshoot & repair primitive faulty equipment. The ARC Advisory Group stated in its 2015 report Distribution Control Systems Worldwide Outlook that almost $65 billion worth of automation systems are nearing their useful life cycles. It is even more astonishing that over $12 billion worth of such systems were installed in the late 1970s as distributed control systems.
The number of controllers available in the market are almost as many as the number of applications in which they are used. Most controllers are application independent and can be used for more than one purpose. So which one would you choose? A PLC, a PAC, a DCS or a IPC? Names are of little importance when compared to the functionality of a device.
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have standardized and almost perfected a charade that involves the use of programmable automation controller, distributed input/output, a touchscreen operator interface and features such as data logging and charting to achieve automation. Today, companies are looking out for architectures that would help them instill “smartness” in their plants and be a part of the major industrial revolutions that are just around the corner.
When wiring motor starters, contactors and pilot devices, paying attention to the resources being delegated through intelligent planning can do wonders.
Modern concepts & technologies including Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0 & Smart Factory are upon us. Consumers & enterprises are moving towards devices that would enable them to use these technologies, and compete in a tighter market. But what exactly sits at the core of all these technologies, and what exactly drives them to increase industrial throughput? The answer is simple: Data.
A bright sunny day for you may be a disaster in the making for your VFDs. Air conditioning systems are installed to ensure that machinery such as drives, panels, etc. run within the optimum temperature range. But if the temperature surpasses expected levels, things can go wrong very quickly. Heat dissipation is often overlooked in the case of VFDs or AC drives, leading to devastating downtime. Keeping into account a few factors can greatly help keeping the energy dissipation in check, and reduce the risks of unexpected shutdowns.
The PLC Evolution
Dick Morley introduced the industrial world to the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), a tool that would revolutionize the automation landscape for decades to come. The PLC was seen as a savior in the industrial world, which relied heavily on switch gears and relay boxes for routine activities. The PLC has room for evolution unlink any other automotive device which has made it so susceptible to changing technological standards.
Pumping systems are widely used in a number of industries from mining to petroleum to manufacturing. These systems account for nearly 20% of the world’s energy used by electric motors! A minute dip in their efficiency can put great financial strain on the entire system and risk the machines’ life. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has published a comprehensive list of standards that can help assess the efficiency of pumping systems.