This August we received a call from Midas Electricians regarding an issue with the Omron PLC that controls the Pugmill Plant at Boral’s Montrose Plant. After our investigation found that the PLC had failed, we were faced with a timely challenge; the outdated PLC had been discontinued and spare parts were no longer available, eliminating repair as an option. Instead, the entire system had to be upgraded and the busy plant would remain out of action until this was completed.
PLC upgrades are not a straightforward task; they are usually done by thoroughly investigating the way the old system works, designing the new system to match, decommissioning the old system and installing and commissioning the new system during a period of scheduled downtime.
This case highlights why it is so important to keep your industrial control systems up to date using modern, supported components; not only did Boral’s unplanned upgrade mean critical mid-week downtime, but being a breakdown we did not have the opportunity to view the previous system in action, adding further difficulty to designing its replacement.
With no time to waste, Cutting Edge and Midas worked together to quickly assess the previous system and determine the requirements for the new one. We then organised the correct parts to be flown down from Omron in Sydney, which were delivered to the site early the following day. Over the next day and a half, Cutting Edge and Midas physically installed the new PLC and wired in the parts, translated and converted the old PLC’s program to suit the new model and reprogrammed Citect SCADA to allow communication to the new PLC. Then came testing.
The new PLC was powered up, Citect communications were tested and all Analog I/O functionality was tested, as the PLC program changes related to how the analog signals worked compared to the old system. Once all this was proven, the system was commissioned with an operator from Boral and the product created was certified in the Boral lab to ensure the system was working correctly. In total, it took 2.5 days to have the system back up and operational.
While the quick turnaround and effective outcome made this job a success, the breakdown and subsequent unplanned system upgrade still cost Boral critical production time, serving as an important reminder to keep your plant control systems up to date. Scheduling upgrades during system downtimes minimises interruption to production and ensures that any future issues can be solved quickly with readily-available replacement parts and repair.
Is your system compatible with modern replacement parts? If you’re unsure or you’d like to learn more about what’s involved in an upgrade, contact the team at Cutting Electrical on 03 5622 3516.