A global builder of industrial heat treatment furnaces has chosen Movicon SCADA for a major research and development project that should lead to the next generation of sealed quench furnaces.
Aichelin Unitherm Heat Treatment Systems is a is a highly regarded supplier of thermal processing plants including, gas and electrically heated furnaces, sealed quench furnaces, pusher furnaces, mesh belt furnaces, and ring, rotary and roller type hearth furnaces. It has more than 300 furnace installations worldwide, many with leading OEMs and tier-1 automotive supply companies.
The Aichelin Unitherm R&D team wanted to start a project looking at ways to improve the performance of sealed quench furnaces. This is a large project that is expected to yield a significant amount of data for analysis. The project started with an assessment of suitable SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) packages, from which Movicon by Progea was chosen.
The SCADA package is being used to control and constantly optimise the performance of the plant equipment. Movicon SCADA uses XML technology to create an all-in-one development environment for managing HMI (human machine interfaces), SCADA, soft-logic and statistical data analysis applications. As such it can compress development times and provide users with powerful, open, flexible, easy to maintain control systems, making it ideal for this application.
SCADA development platform
Movicon is available in the UK through Products4Automation (P4A), sales director Natalie Turner comments: “once installed SCADA applications rarely stay still, so the development aspect of the platform is very important to most users. Here, it has enabled a customer to carry out R&D work that leads directly to a useable solution.
Successful heat treatment requires close control over all the factors affecting the heating and cooling of a metal. The temperature of the furnace must be held within tightly defined limits, while the atmosphere within it must be properly monitored and controlled. Similarly, heating and cooling of the metal being treated has to be carefully timed within set tolerances.
In the R&D project, controlled variation of all the parameters under test led to a rapidly developing data set which had to be logged and analysed. Movicon made all of this as simple as possible thanks to in-built data loggers, analysis tools and report generators; one of the main reasons why Aichelin Unitherm chose it.
Technical Director at P4A, Carl Nash adds: “A research project like this requires a monumental amount of number crunching. Movicon scores by automating all the maths, which speeds up the process no end and also designs-out the possibility of human error once the process and data sets are established.”
Other features the development team found useful included the variety of communication drivers available, including MPI, Profibus, Ethernet and Industrial Ethernet; easy connectivity to other devices using the TCP Modbus protocol and being able to import PLC data directly from the test furnaces.
The ease of use of the editor, combined with Movicon’s flexibility, allowed straightforward integration with a number of different existing systems. The ability to combine different types of database enabled the easy aggregation of large amounts of data from different sources. Further, Movicon’s reliability ensured a solid platform for the whole project.