United Process Controls Inc. (UPC) is nearing completion of a large, multiyear control-systems upgrade project for a manufacturer of automotive axles. Planning and executing the phased migration started in 2014 and encompassed four pusher furnaces, four batch IQ furnaces, four parts washers, three temper furnaces, one preheat oven, four endothermic generators and a SCADA system. A key parameter of the project was the seamless switchover and deployment of new control systems without interruption or shutdown of production. Another requirement was to improve operational efficiency and traceability and optimize production throughput.
The solution from UPC included Protherm 700 controllers with new PLCs and Waukee Valve-Tronic Plus flow controllers on the furnaces, Protherm 470 controllers on the parts washers and an AccuBlendor Plus endothermic-generator control system supporting all furnaces. The furnaces were similarly outfitted with a number of sensors capable of generating volumes of data that are processed through the Protherm diagnostic tools, giving managers, operators and maintenance the ability to troubleshoot equipment and predict anomalies in the process. The use of redundant probes along with resident SAT thermocouples has increased equipment reliability and virtually eliminated scrap and/or rework. The manufacturer also implemented the Protherm 9800 platform to enable total data management and remote control and diagnostics of the furnaces.