Bringing Process Control Into the 21st Century

PLC-5 processors provided a great hardware solution for process control in their day, but faster, more adaptable technology has now made them obsolete. A $500-million food manufacturer in the southeastern US recently engaged ECS to migrate its PLC-5-based refinery operations to the newer ControlLogix platform. We teamed up with an industry-leading process systems builder to migrate the controller hardware and networks. In addition, the company followed our recommendation to upgrade the human-machine interface (HMI) software on operator terminals to achieve immediate improvements in network performance and reduce long-term support requirements.

Experience makes the difference in SI selection

Our client isn’t the only food manufacturing/refining company that’s migrating a PLC-5-based operation to ControlLogix, and we’re not the only systems integrator the company could have chosen for the project. But we won the business because of the faith the company’s process systems builder had in ECS’ Total Process Automation methodology, and because of our extensive experience and engineering resources. Having a 38-year history in process automation and a deep team of engineers put us in a strong position to respond quickly to meet the company’s needs now, as well as to provide longer-term support for their rapidly growing operations.

Going above and beyond project requirements

The company hired ECS to migrate the controls hardware and software, including PLC-5s and I/O, but we were able to do far more than that for them by implementing new HMI software as part of the project. In addition to providing a redundant server solution and providing thin client operator terminals throughout strategic process areas, we upgraded the HMI component to the FactoryTalk View Site Edition (SE) client/server operator interface. This change in HMI provided more comprehensive visualization of operations and eliminated intermittent networking errors the company had been experiencing.

A significant reduction in future support needs

The FactoryTalk View SE operator interface that ECS recommended has eliminated the need to support multiple isolated HMIs. As a result, the company’s process control workstations will require less maintenance over the long term. The migration has also resulted in fewer unexpected alarms and shutdowns, which has in turn increased system availability and decreased support requirements. The company has contracted ECS repeatedly since the conclusion of the project to extend the new process control system to other areas of the company and extend benefits of the system throughout their facilities.