Olson: A control system can run the plant at its limits, while monitoring an array of inputs to keep the plant running safely. The control system monitors for temperatures to know when optimum operating parameters are met, know if parts are failing or even prevent fires. The control system protects expensive motors from overloading, while keeping them operating as efficiently as possible.
Davis: Automation increases throughput and productivity by optimizing the performance of the equipment in the plant. For example, a system running your pelleting process will allow you to run that pellet mill very aggressively by anticipating a potential plug situation that could result in downtime, and respond to it much more quickly than a human being can.
Another good example is the batching system. Accuracy and speed are related. A good batching system will allow you to maintain that high level of accuracy by anticipating and cutting off the flow of a product to a specific bin and reduce settle time and pauses in the process that would incrementally add up to a loss of time.
Shoen: Automating the pelleting process can greatly impact throughput and productivity. We have seen customers increase pellet mill throughput by 5 to 30% with automation. Advanced algorithms ensure fast and accurate calculations for feedback and control, and control parameters are adjusted after every run.
Berndtson and Bollinger: Advanced controls minimize labor, which increases productivity and assures maximum production from each piece of equipment. WEM also provides measurement tools of throughput and productivity so management can actually understand what’s contributing to the productivity, or lack of, and can manage it on a per shift, per employee, monthly or weekly basis.
F&G: How can facility automation lead to more efficient-energy consumption?
Berndtson and Bollinger: By operating equipment such as hammer mills, roller mills and pellet mills at peak throughput levels, the energy consumption per ton produced is decreased, thereby saving energy inputs. Also, shutting down equipment during periods of nonuse can save energy.
Olson: The control system can monitor peak energy usage and sequence very large electric motors so they don’t all start at the same time.
Davis: We can integrate with energy monitoring software and provide data back to the customer so they’re able to make decisions on when to plan production. There are processes — grinding, for example — that can operate during off-peak hours and provide the ground grain requirements for an entire day in one shift of off-hours grinding production.
Our system can stagger the starting of large motors, shut processes down that aren’t producing, schedule off-hours production and provide good information as to how to use energy efficiently.