Why Use Dedicated Batch Controllers
By: Kelly Buck
Automation is the future of manufacturing, especially with batching processes. The question is, what is the best way to start incorporating automation processes? Most engineers are incredibly comfortable with PLC system control, but that leaves floor level scale operators, maintenance personnel, and scale technicians in a difficult situation when it comes to maintenance and operation. It also involves complex protocols that may not be able to let the automated mechanism respond quick enough to perform the action, resulting in too much of the ingredient in the mix or worse, ruined batches! The best alternative is to utilize a dedicated batch controller for your batching.
KISS Method of Production
We all know the KISS method…Keep It Simple Stupid! On the surface, adding another piece of equipment to the chain could be viewed as complicating the process but in reality it is making thing much simpler. To understanding why, you first need to understand the concept of a scale system. Most view scales as a single piece of equipment, be it platform, weigh module, or readout. In reality, there are different components to a scale system, including advanced weighing terminals. Keeping as many pieces of the scale system in tact and close by allows for more efficient troubleshooting, operation, and integration. In the event of failures or re-calibrations, having dedicated batch controllers allows for much faster and simpler troubleshooting and repair.
Are users constantly over adding products or is the recipe being mis-read? Can process prompts in manual batching be displayed for batch operators to ensure additional ingredients are not added? Dedicated batch controllers are a must for manual batching processes efficiency. The benefits for automated systems are even more obvious. When batch controllers are handling automation, you now have a free operator for another section of the plant!
Automation just got simple
When people think of automation, they are usually thinking of advanced centralized control centers run by operators and PLC controls. That way you can eliminate scale readouts, right? That thinking may actually limit the capabilities of the scale system. Weighing terminals are advanced devices that control multiple scales, allow i/o devices to respond quicker, and still give control of process on the floor. The best part is that all of the benefits of PLC control is still achieved using a dedicated batching controller. PLC communications and controls can still be incorporated into advanced weighing terminals.
If you have a batching application, don’t outsource the weighing controls somewhere that will ultimately hurt the production. Treating a weight based batching system as independent pieces ultimately will make your processes difficult.