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Key supplier partnership case study: InControl

Tony Hague

PP Control & Automation has been inspired by the many benefits of building partnerships with suppliers as part of a wider strategy to support the trend for outsourced design, engineering and more specialist competencies required by OEMs involved in complex machine building.

This is the second blog in an ongoing series which is designed to provide OEMs and machine builders with information on how PP C&A’s own supplier relationships and cooperation within a framework of customer specific needs and optimisation of those needs is sought after now more than ever.

This blog details the relationship with InControl Systems, an experienced and versatile team of engineers and programmers, handling everything from electrical design, PLC and HMI software programming, commissioning, and the project management elements of control and automation systems for factories and machinery OEMs.

With PP Control & Automation’s experience in electrical cabinet build and control panel manufacture, there is great synergy between the two businesses. One instance of this relationship working to add sought after value for the customer, was in the implementation of a new production line for an electroplating service.

The scenario

PP C&A were approached and invited to quote on a new electroplating production line with complete automation design and programming requirements.

The prospect required an advanced systems integrator to design and manufacture the control panel, PLC and SCADA application software, which would satisfy the desire to efficiently call up different plating specifications by product code. Minimising changeover time and having the ability to automate line speed and weir heights unique to each job was also key to the brief.

With the emphasis on design and programming of a complex process of automation, it was clear that this was a project that PP C&A and InControl could collaborate on. InControl were quickly introduced to the prospect and with an understanding of the requirements for automation on the production line, it took over the complete automation design and programming aspects of the project with a view to successfully commission the new plating line on site.

Key supplier partnership case study: InControl » IMG 3053 » PP Control & Automation

The solution

InControl wrote the functional design specification with the customer, holding several technical meetings with PP C&A and the client to fully understand the process of the line. This also included the important aspect of the production operator’s interaction with that machine via an operator interface (HMI) display on the control panel, which is optimised to handle different sequences and plating recipes in an efficient manner.

The plating line consisted of a reel-to-reel process, feeding precision stamped parts through eight electro-plating baths where the chemical levels, temperatures and weir heights are controlled and monitored. The control systems also had to communicate with the 24 rectifiers via Modbus TCP which controlled the plating process in each bath.

With the operator interface being accessed by the FactoryTalk View SE, the operator had automated start-up sequence, running mode and shut-down sequence at their disposal.

Key supplier partnership case study: InControl » InControl at Batten Allen » PP Control & Automation

The plating process has numerous PID controllers for batch temperature and other treatment parameters and tension control of the recoiling of the stamped parts, ready for supply to the customer.

InControl designed the control panel with industry standard components and also implemented a remote access solution to allow engineers to maintain software updates and change requests efficiently without having to travel to site – This was of particular importance as the project ran during covid restrictions.

The benefits

The success of the project is testament to the fluid working relationship between PP C&A and InControl. The obvious fit between the two companies opens-up added value opportunities for customers, be it reacting to new product design requirements, or taking advantage of a cross pollination of ideas.

Having the modular software and electrical design capabilities of InControl working alongside the core competencies of PP C&A in control panel and machine build means that standardization can be implemented, futureproofing the design and volume production of a given panel or machine.

In addition to traditional PLC, HMI and SCADA design work, InControl is a pool of Industry 4.0 knowledge and expertise that PP C&A can tap into on behalf of clients looking to enable their machines for operation in a future digital roadmap, and to be safely integrated and connected.

Jan Hemper, Technical Director at InControl Systems refers to the relationship with PP C&A fondly:

Key supplier partnership case study: InControl » jan hemper2 1 w300h500 » PP Control & Automation

“PP C&A are clearly a company that works to their strengths and focusses on their core business, outsourcing to specialists where it makes the best sense for the customer. We’re always delighted to be asked to work on projects in collaboration. Partnering with PP C&A is built on trust and competence, and this is very much our own ethos, one where we strive to deliver the very best solution, with the greatest of flexibility as an enabler to a long-term partnership that not only benefits the two companies but the OEMs and machine builders seeking our collaborative expertise.”

Keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks as we explore more relationships with key technical partners, collaborating to provide machine builders and OEMs with a unique value-added service.

More from the series

Key supplier partnerships are serving to add sought after value for customers

There is a desire to draw attention to the fact that cooperation within a framework of customer specific needs and optimisation of those needs, alongside the ability to adapt and drive innovation is sought after now more than ever.

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