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Importance of process control and automation

08 March 20173 min reading

“It has also to be taken into consideration that a “high degree of automation” reduces significantly the number of staff needed to run the plant and, consequently, the running costs.”

Mauro PIZZAMIGLIO Alapala Makina Technical and Sales Director alapala_mauropizzamiglio87The producers of the milling industry approach towards the monitoring process is extremely positive, because they have realized that in a market that becomes more competitive every day, the quality of products must be absolutely as customer expectations and this is only possible if the production process is controlled at every stage. Expectations therefore are the same as those of having a product with a constant quality. It has also to be taken into consideration that a “high degree of automation” reduces significantly the number of staff needed to run the plant and, consequently, the running costs.

EVERY PLANT IS SUITABLE FOR AUTOMATION We believe that every plant is suitable for automation, regardless its size. The efficiency of the mill and the quality of the final products should not depend on the capacity of the plant. In a typical mill there is a single control point and check point in a nerve-center of the plant, where the operator works on the process. Here, in a special cabinet, the PLC is placed, with a well sized memory able to withstand all the plant peripherals (motors, limit switches, probes, etc.). In addition it also supports two diversified supervision systems, located in the same room and each composed of group video, keyboard, printer, computer, through which you can get a comprehensive system management.

The first station may manage the grain silo, the cleaning lines and the grinding department; the second, the finished product silo with the mixing flour unit, the bran line and the bagging units. All major data management and alarms can be controlled by both stations.

Each video page indicates accurate information about the status of the each line, highlighting specific written or animating symbols to guide the operator. Furthermore, particular managerial pages indicate the yields of the various products, the wheat in the silo storage bins, the mixing formulas, the stock of the flour in the storage bins and all analog variables of the plant, such as: pressure, humidity, weights, energy consumption and everything else needed for process optimization.

In practice it is as if a hundred eyes supervise at all times the entire process, by reporting immediately to the operator any anomalies or malfunctions

HINDRANCES AND DIFFICULTIES FOR TRANSFERRING AUTOMATION We believe that there are no problems in designing a plant by including in it a high degree of automation with consequent process control; such automation can also be applied in systems that originally lacked it, with the advantages that we have listed previously.

The only hindrance to this and we noticed especially in developing countries where there is a wide availability of labors at a low cost, is a hindrance of “social” and “political” type”. There is in fact the tendency to minimize the investment and therefore the quality of the automation, to be able to give work to the greatest possible number of personnel for the supervision and control of the plant.

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