In style with Installed Base Services
by C Lennox, Schneider Electric
Electricity+Control, August 2014, pages 4 - 5
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One of the greatest challenges faced when Rhovan mine, a leading producer of vanadium, decided to upgrade its IT and PLC network systems with the latest hardware and software, was to stay abreast of technology while retaining the legacy programming at the mine. Over the years thousands of I/Os had been programmed and a myriad of devices added to control every aspect of the mine. After a decade of service and expansion to the mining operation’s nine plants, the PLCs were reaching the limits of their memory. At the same time advancing technology meant the rest of the mine had already migrated to the new Windows 7 IT platform and there was a risk of falling behind the technology curve. Communications across the new and old platform would also be more complicated and as a result it was recommended to upgrade to the latest technology by installing the Unity Pro system.
After considering the benefits of installing and upgrading the network system, the mine management agreed and go-ahead was granted to purchase, install and upgrade the network system. However, owing to the continuous-production nature of the business there were strict considerations that needed to be met - not least of which was a mere 48 hour period allocated to the project (during the next planned maintenance shutdown) during which time the system would have to be installed and commissioned. Any loss of production would be punitive and mistakes could cost the mine a fortune in lost production for every hour lost.
- Upgrading a network system could cost a fortune for every hour of production lost.
- Thorough preparation and offsite pre-configuration of a new network system makes plugging-in to the existing infrastructure on the day of installation possible.
- Upgrading of network systems should allow for future expansions or additional processes that may be required in years to come.