The UNEAL agricultural cooperative entrusted NOREALP, a process automation engineering company based in Dainville (62), with automating several silos within the storage capacity renovation and extension project.
Reminder: the purpose of a silo is to store cereal products. After harvesting, cereals are transported to the silos, then conveyed to the storage cells. Before it arrives in its destination cell, the product can be dried, cleaned, sorted, calibrated to comply with client specifications sheets.
The stake of automation resides in conveying the product from its point of deposit to its storage point, by determining the best route, i.e. the circuit. Indeed, the only conveyor equipment (elevator, suction device, 2-direction box …) and processing equipment (calibrators, dryers, …) which can be used is that available at a given time, knowing that several products may be processed concurrently.
For maximum flexibility and upgradeability of the automated system, NOREALP chose to store the information relative to the equipment in an SQL Server database and interface it with TOPKAPI, which provides the HMI and process monitoring part.
The application developed by NOREALP allows to calculate the circuits available. The SQL Server database lists:
- the different components of the installation – cells, suction devices, 2-direction units, calibrators, elevators, motors, … - and their status (power on/off, busy/available …)
- the connections (input and output) between these different systems.
It is TOPKAPI which, via its SQL connector, supplies the database directly in real time to provide the status of each device, but also memorize which product is stored in each cell.
In NOREALP’s application, the operator merely defines his starting point, storage cell, and the different preparation steps required. The program proposes the circuits available. Once the circuit selected, all remaining operations are managed automatically: the application writes the information of the batch to produce in TOPKAPI's real-time database, which provides the interface with the controller and process monitoring. The animation in the diagrams shows the active circuits using color codes.
To set supervision, in regard of equipment repetitivity, TOPKAPI’s object approach was fully used with about twenty structured object models created, then instantiated at a total 200+ times in the application. The time gain in design, tests and starting up the application is easy to imagine.
But the benefit extends beyond this level, as commented by Mr. Jean-Marc BRUGUET developer at NOREALP: "the installation is not frozen and new equipment is added, removed, or moved regularly. Therefore, these developments allow easy adaptation of the automation unit without jeopardizing the whole system at every upgrade".