Making common control system nomenclature familiar to engineers who are more mechanically oriented is the focus of a new collaborative effort from AZO and Bachelor Controls Inc. (BCI). “Advanced Automation: How Intuitive Design Enhances Control Systems” is a free guide that also explains how “intuitive” control system design can benefit your operations in the long run.
A wide array of controls-related topics are addressed in this offering. Just a few of the topics discussed are summary screen alarms, batch operations management, electrical cabinet layout and a glimpse at how “Industry 4.0” is changing automated controls.
AZO general manager Chuck Kerwin believes that control systems are too often taken for granted or completely overlooked once installed and working. Controls systems include software and firmware that requires upgrades and improvements.
“Our intention in creating the guide was to provide a link between the mechanical and the electrical sides of automated bulk ingredient handling systems,” Kerwin said. “With many of our clients, very few people can master both issues — there is just too much to know.”
In providing key talking points in this guide, president of Bachelor Controls Ray Bachelor shared how an intuitively designed control systems can favorably shape operations.
“The investment in the extra functionality and visibility included in intuitive control systems pays off with less downtime and reduced idle time,” Bachelor said. “The upfront costs are somewhat higher, but the increase in equipment utilization and operator efficiency reduces production costs for years.”
For example, AZO and BCI together believe that event-driven sequencing (which uses multiple sensors) gives operators a clearer picture of the current state of all the components in a pneumatic conveying system. Graphics should communicate clearly and concisely with the operators, especially dealing with faults or other problems. Alerts, alarms and prompts should notify the operators of the level of interaction. They should also notify what, if anything, these operators should do as required by the system.
If any of this terminology catches you off guard then “Advanced Automation: How Intuitive Design Enhances Control Systems” will be of interest. The guide will help any engineer build an understanding of these and other controls-related terminology.
One critical term that managers should know investing in a control system are “add-on instructions” (AOIs). These instructions are typically buried in the computer code. Unless mentioned, most owners won’t even know to ask about them.
“By using known blocks of code to do repetitive tasks, like weighing, programmers know the code is reliable because it has been thoroughly tested,” Kerwin said. “Any programmer that writes new code for a known process is both wasting engineering time and running the risk of a programming error. Reliable production needs ‘bullet-proof’ coding — AOIs make repetitive processing bullet-proof.”
AOIs are but one example of various topics covered in “Advanced Automation: How Intuitive Design Enhances Control Systems” that will help manufacturers understand controls-related knowledge. Such knowledge would be very helpful when considering future capital investments for automated material handling systems.
“Knowing what to ask is a good place to start when learning about any new topic,” Kerwin said. “We hope this guide helps, in some small way, to encourage more insightful conversations.”
AZO, Inc. engineers, builds and installs components and complete systems for bulk material handling requirements. A wholly-owned subsidiary of AZO GmbH, the company supports U.S. customers with technical support from its Memphis location and rapid parts delivery. AZO equipment is used in companies ranging from small, family-owned businesses to the world’s best-known industrial and consumer products companies.
BCI, our control system partner, has over 25 years of experience designing, building and installing integrated control systems in automated material conveying systems. To learn more about how you can expect the highest level of quality and reliability for ingredient automation solutions from AZO and BCI, contact our dedicated sales associates today. Read more at azo-inc.com/blog to find information on pneumatic conveying, ingredient automation and the reliably accurate equipment that AZO and BCI manufacture.