Upgrade delivers spare parts

Golden Triangle Energy Cooperative (GTEC) in Craig, MO processes 20,000 bushels of corn into approximately 55,000 gallons of ethanol daily. Operations began in 2001 and, shortly after construction was complete and plant operations were stable, GTEC proactively sought to maximize the efficiency and uptime of its processes.

05/01/2008


Golden Triangle Energy Cooperative (GTEC) in Craig, MO processes 20,000 bushels of corn into approximately 55,000 gallons of ethanol daily. Operations began in 2001 and, shortly after construction was complete and plant operations were stable, GTEC proactively sought to maximize the efficiency and uptime of its processes.

GTEC was enjoying steady uptime and consistently out-producing its 14 MMgy (million gallons per year) nameplate by 5 MMgy to 6 MMgy. But the installed control system hardware had been deemed obsolete by the manufacturer, and replacement parts were becoming difficult to find. Some parts could only be sent in for refurbishment or repair, which required a two- or three-week turnaround. In desperation, GTEC even began to search online auction sites to ensure sufficient backups for the most critical components.

With the control system risk mounting and thoughts of a plant expansion in the works, GTEC contracted with Bachelor Controls Inc. (BCI) in 2006 to retrofit and upgrade the obsolete control system. To avoid the problems that plagued the original system, the new system requirements included ensuring that parts and technical support — including training — were readily available, and that a pool of skilled talent existed to maintain and support the system.

After weighing upgrade options, BCI chose to integrate Rockwell Automation’s Process Automation System (PAS). Utilizing the Allen-Bradley ControlLogix Programmable Automation Controller (PAC) and I/O system — along with Rockwell Software’s RSView Supervisory Edition graphical interface — this system features an open architecture with maximum flexibility for future expansions, plus offered abundant training and maintenance support resources.

GTEC general manager Roger Hill said, “We knew the magnitude of this project would be like a heart transplant for our facility, and we relied on Bachelor Controls to guide us in making the most effective decisions for our control system needs. The complexity of the project required a great deal of planning and project management to ensure a final, successful project.”

Selecting established product lines from Rockwell Automation ensured that all installed parts were readily available from reliable distributors located near GTEC, and that both hardware and software technical support were available long into the future.

Project planning saves the day(s)

To contain installation costs and minimize plant disruption, BCI designed the system to retain all field wiring and field devices. Waldinger Corp., a mechanical, electrical and sheet metal contractor operating primarily in the U.S. Midwest and Southeast, was contracted to perform the electrical work and would become an indispensable member of the project team.

BCI Project Manager Adam Hinton said that BCI follows a structured project methodology that stresses communication, documentation, and an on-site factory acceptance test. “This drives consistent, quality performance, and also ensured that we would maintain the project’s aggressive implementation schedule,” said Hinton.

Shutting the plant down to complete the work was unavoidable; however, BCI minimized the costs and impact to the plant with a two-phased implementation plan with each phase taking place during an already-scheduled plant shutdown.

GTEC Plant Manager Charlie Martin recalled, “Bachelor Controls clearly understood the tremendous amount of detail that was going be required.... When it came time to execute, they were poised and ready to go.”

Conversion two-step

The first phase installed the new control system infrastructure and implemented the new control schema on a small portion of the plant. This “pilot phase” validated the implementation plan and tested device-control software modules under load. It was completed inside the normal three- to four-day outage window. According to GTEC Operations Manager Shaun O’Riley, The pilot phase “allowed us to adapt to the changes and get comfortable with the new system before converting the rest of the plant.”

The second phase, the major implementation phase, was done during the next major cleaning outage. BCI specialists and their Waldinger counterparts showed up prepared for the task well aware of the enormous risk: The existing control system consisted of a local DCS controller with associated I/O and six remote I/O enclosures. More than 800 I/O points were spread over four buildings containing dust and gaseous classified explosive areas. The logic consisted of sequencing, batching, reporting, and standard interlocking of devices.

Because this was a retrofit project, the logic was developed based on a text extraction from the existing control system, coupled with the project team’s general working knowledge of the operation of an alcohol plant. The reverse engineering process was complicated by an unfamiliarity with components of the obsolete control system, incomplete documentation, and meager technical support resources.

The team took a mere four days to complete the major implementation phase. When the fifth day arrived, normal restart procedures were implemented by existing staff using the new control system, and the plant was back in full production before the end of the day.

With the improved efficiency, GTEC can now focus on production and processing issues. Hill said, “We take great comfort in knowing our control system is designed to meet our specific needs, with replacement parts available locally.”


Author Information

Marvin Coker is a senior project engineer for Bachelor Controls Inc., a Control Engineering System Integrator of the Year, based in Sabetha, KS. Mr. Coker has more than 20 years’ experience, including providing architecture design and support for food and fuel-grade alcohol production systems, batching and continuous process systems, and data collection and management solutions. Reach Coker at mcoker@bachelorcontrols.com or call (785) 284-3482.




No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2015 Top Plant: Phoenix Contact, Middletown, Pa.; 2015 Best Practices: Automation, Electrical Safety, Electrical Systems, Pneumatics, Material Handling, Mechanical Systems
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Migrating industrial networks; Tracking HMI advances; Making the right automation changes
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.