Automation Technologies has worked with control systems for polymer manufacturing since its inception in 1996.  Since that time we have developed systems for extrusion, pelletizing, winding, and injection molding.  We are experienced with feed systems and controlling post extrusion equipment for conveying, stretching and other processing.   We have also developed systems for liquid polymers including batching, mixing, pressure and temperature control.   We are well versed in hazardous area design due to our extensive work with solvent dependent processes.

Extruder Control Systems

Automation Technologies has completed many projects involving extruder control systems.  The control systems have varied in complexity.  Simple manual control systems utilized only push button operators and single loop controllers.  More advanced systems incorporated PLC’s and Operator Interfaces controlling heat zones, die temperature, extruder rpm, pump/pressure control loops, etc.  External chill rolls, heat rolls, winders, etc. were often part of a fully automated system.  Projects were completed utilizing PLC’s from various manufacturers including Allen Bradley, Siemens, GE, Modicon and others.  Operator interfaces designed and configured ranged from simple pushbutton and single loop controllers to full SCADA interface, control, data collection and manipulation.   Operator Interfaces/SCADA systems have included popular interfaces such as PanelView, Panelmate, Wonderware, Intellution, RSView32, Cimplicity, CTC, and others.  Automation Technologies generally developed functional specifications for its extruder design from in-house expertise and client input.

DataLogging and Reporting Systems 

Automation Technologies has developed numerous systems primarily for datalogging and system reporting.  Various data collection methods have been used according to client infrastructure and requirements.  Systems have involved communicating with existing or installing new PLC systems for data manipulation.  Storing and displaying of data has been accomplished using various SCADA systems or Visual Basic.  SCADA systems have included popular packages such as Wonderware, Intellution, RSView32 and others.  Data has been stored locally or to a central data server utilizing SQL Server or Oracle.

Automation Technologies also has experience using Wonderware's Industrial SQL Server with the Active Factory Component to deliver quick data logging solutions and a wide variety of reporting options.

Polymer Plant Control System Upgrade 

Automation Technologies redesigned, reconfigured and reprogrammed multiple plant blending and extruding operations combining them into a plant wide control system with a central control room. The system process was composed of 5 blending lines utilizing common liquid and powder bulk ingredient systems. Each blending line fed a corresponding extrusion line for final product creation. System design included rewriting the existing bulk material batching system to create a solid and reliable system. The bulk system design also included combining multiple bulk material PLC systems into an existing Allen Bradley PLC 5 controller. The PLC 5 controller was capable, and the interdependency of the bulk ingredients made a single controller design acceptable. The multiple blending lines, each with a separate SLC 500 processor, were also reprogrammed and were networked to the bulk system. Corresponding extrusion lines were also added to allow data collection and blending/extrusion interlocking. Field control at each blender was modified to only allow batch status information and activities required locally for safety reasons. A central SCADA system consisting of two multi-monitor systems was added to allow an experienced operator to monitor and control the system. System reports and logging were added for batch summary information, statistical information, and maintenance troubleshooting assistance. This system involved programming, networking, servicing 12 PLC systems, redundant SCADA systems, and setting up an SPC analysis station. Batch summary and periodic data are ported to an Oracle data server at the company headquarters across a T1 connection.

NOTE: One primary client issue was maintaining 3 shifts of trained blender operators for five lines. The new design required only 3 trained operators (versus 15) to run smoothly.

PET Recycling Plant Installation

Automation Technologies designed the control systems and related electrical systems for a PET Recycling facility.  The project was conducted in multiple phases and maintained an aggressive time schedule that required multiple engineers and designers.   The existing electrical system required redesign to meet OSHA standards for hardwired emergency stops.  An existing Allen Bradley PLC5/40 was used to wash chopped PET.  There were two lines that allowed the processing of Green and Clear PET recovered from curb side recycling.  The system was responsible for temperature control, level control, and current control on various agitators. In addition full automatic line start/stop sequences were required and all associated interlocks.  Many existing control components were reused requiring knowledge of older control components while also requiring up to date knowledge of newer control technologies for any added components.  Specifying and interfacing with new instrumentation was also required for this phase. 

The second phase of this project consisted of controlling, processing, and conveying.  The bales of recycled bottles were separated, sorted and chopped.  The chopped material was then used in the washing system described above.  The system required advanced controls to maintain maximum throughput without over burdening the choppers.  A new SLC500 control system was added to allow independent operation of the two processes.  The SLC processor was required to maintain copatiblity with some older Remote I/O subsystems.  The SLC was required to communicate with newer Powerflex drives on a Device Net / 485 communication network as well as older 1336 drive systems communicating via Remote I/O.