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Innovations in Industrial Process Control

The term Process Control covers a lot of ground. In the past, most of it dominated by Allen Bradley who did a good job of driving the industry with their PLCs, interfaces, and networks. However, that is changing.

lsdriveThe VFD and DC Drive manufacturers have done an excellent job at improving both the quality and standard features of their VFDs and DC Drive equipment. It’s rare these days for equipment not to work, and the costs have actually gone down.
There was a time when startup engineers spent the majority of their time just getting the VFDs and PLCs to sequence, run at the correct speed, remain stable, and follow the process control.

This sometimes took weeks. Those problems began to fade as the VFD and DC Drive manufacturers began to incorporate auto-tuning and auto-correcting software, in tandem with their overall improved quality and lower failure rates.

The issues now have more to do with PLC and VFD / Drive communications, as plant engineers center winderdemand more real time information and coordination of their processes and industrial networks.

Here as well, the VFD and DC Drive manufacturers have made these tasks easier with onboard selectable communication protocols, built in PID loops, and responsive equipment. The Human Machine Interface (HMI) is growing in importance within drive systems. Younger operators especially, having been immersed in graphic user interface all of their lives, expect the machine controls to not only resemble a regular computer interface, but to operate just as easily.

And this type of user friendly process control is not only doable, it’s relatively easy. In the past, industrial networks and PLCs were dominated by a few major players, the most notable being Allen Bradley with their extensive line of PLCs and HMI products. Allen Bradley, Siemens, and others are still major players in industrial process control, but there are many other choices out there now.

One of the frustrations faced by process engineers, was that once you installed, for instance, Allen Bradley PLCs and networks, it was difficult and expensive to add a different brand VFD or DC Drive to the network.

Bardac SmartyThe market has responded to that need, and a variety of companies now offer products for that purpose. Here at EMA, we have had great success with the Bardac Smarty product. The Smarty can do everything from protocol conversions, to full process control, and remain in communication with the primary Allen Bradley network. (Click HERE for a recent job report about this)

The Bardac Smarty, for instance can replace both a PLC and Industrial computer, and it and other products like it are probably the future. Aside from products like the Smarty and others, the VFD and DC Drives have built in software to facilitate many process controls functions that at one time took a lot of ancillary equipment.

VFDs and DC Drives now commonly have built in center winder software, pump PID controls, tension controllers, and many other functions. The problem, is often just one of communication with the network.
Here at EMA, we do coordinated drive systems that range from simple DC Extruder Drives to complex material winders, to large dynamometers. Our equipment and systems can be found anywhere from the NYC subway tunnels, to servo controlled corrugated lines, to oil platforms, to HVAC systems.

The controls can range from a simple Hand/Off/Auto switch, to a computer controlled interface that displays real time machine parameters on the plant manager’s desktop.

Contact us by any of the methods on the right of this page, or call your nearest EMA facility listed at the bottom.


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