Production Area PLC Conversion Improves Efficiences and Processes

In this project Quantum Design helped improve efficiencies and processes for our customer, a leading food and beverage company, by replacing multiple SLC5/04’s, PLC5/40’s, a PLC5/80 and their I/O racks. Many customers are realizing the importance of upgrading older control systems as issues begin to arise more frequently and since these older systems will become more difficult to support in the future. In many cases, the mechanics of a system are sound but the controls are failing and separate parts are scarce or non-existent.

With Rockwell Automation and many other suppliers phasing out support for older systems, our customer realized that it was important to move forward with an upgrade to a newer, more supported system. In addition to the SLC and PLC upgrades the project also upgrade the Wonderware HMI software currently in place, upgrade and added Ethernet switches and changed DH+ and DeviceNet communications to Ethernet in order to tie the whole system together.

The PLC5/40’s, the PLC5/80 and their associated I/O that this customer had in place were changed to Contrologix PLCs and I/O using the Rockwell 1771 Conversion modules. This procedure uses the existing 1771 PLC5 wiring arms plugged into a new rack base. Then the Contrologix rack and 1756 modules are mounted on top of the rack base. Purchased cables are used to tie the 1771 wiring arms to the 1756 modules. Since the I/O wiring from the field is untouched wiring errors are virtually eliminated.

Rockwell Automation provides software that converted the PLC5 logic program to Contrologix platform. A little manual intervention was required in order to correct some conversion issues, which will always depend on how the PLC5 program is written and what functions are used.

this project was broken up into 5 phases, with each phase being done during plant shutdowns to minimize the loss of production.

Due to high production demands at the company’s facility, this project was broken up into 5 phases, with each phase being done during plant shutdowns to minimize the loss of production. The Quantum engineering team worked long hours throughout this project during holidays, breaks and shut down times in order to keep the customer up and running their normal processes throughout the duration of the entire project.

Phase One
The Quantum engineering team started by adding a Contrologix rack and processor and moving some of the non I/O related PLC logic (a recipe management HMI interface) from the PLC5/80 to the Contrologix processor. They also changed the SLC 5/04’s to SLC 5/05’s and converted single point heat trace controllers to a PLC controlled system. Then they upgraded the Wonderware software and upgraded and added Ethernet switches and cabling. At the end of Phase One the system was using both the PLC5/80 and the Contrologix PLC.

Phase Two
All of the Ethernet equipment was organized and assigned new IP addresses. Quantum did some more heat trace conversion and added a fiber optic network backbone and termination panels. Then they added redundant network database servers and UPS’s and replaced 17 operator station monitors with flat screen monitors.

Phase Three
Quantum converted a smaller PLC5/40 processor and rack to Contrologix and added a new Wonderware Operator work station. They upgraded all the Wonderware work stations and then converted DeviceNet communications to Ethernet. They completed phase three by changing a couple of the PLC5/80 I/O racks to Contrologix.

Phase Four
They converted more of the PLC 5/80 I/O racks to Contrologix and moved the related PLC logic to the Contrologix PLC.

Phase Five
To complete the project Quantum converted the remaining PLC5/80 I/O racks to Contrologix, moved the remaining PLC5/80 logic to the Contrologix processor and removed the PLC5/80 processor from the system.

When the five phases were completed the customer had a newly upgraded, fully supported control system complete with the latest technologies. Though this company is in the food and beverage industry, an upgrade of this type could work for most any industry running these controls.

For all projects, Quantum Design provides only the highest quality solutions. They always start by assessing the existing hardware and software as well as determining the most cost effective approach to increasing the lifespan of a system. If the customer is currently running on legacy equipment or equipment that will no longer be supported in the near future Quantum strongly recommends exploring the upgrade and conversion options.

Keep in mind if you and your company are on the fence about an upgrade or conversion; even if your system is up and running today; it is likely to present you with new challenges in the very near future. Planning ahead can keep your processes running and allow you the most cost-effective and timely upgrade. The Quantum Design team is always willing and able to adjust schedules, work long and odd hours and do whatever it takes to keep your system online and producing as much as possible during key upgrades and conversions.