The grain terminal automated control system utilizes rack mounted PC’s running Sterling Systems customized Windows based Automation Software using a SQL express database. The PC’s are connected to an Allen Bradley PLC. The PLC provides I/O interface to field devices. Any manual controls are done within the Sterling Systems customized control software. All components used are non-proprietary and available from local suppliers.
The PC is connected to the PLC via Ethernet. Weight indicators supplied are mounted in the control panel and communicate with Ethernet as well. The PLC conducts batching and weighing functions as required. The customized software system includes a Transfer application and a Grinding application. Each grain terminal control requirements is different. In this situation the following equipment was included in the control list within the automation system:
Top Conveyors 1, 2 and 3
Top Conveyor Gates
Electric Gates under all Bins
Total of Sixteen (16) 30HP Grain Bin Blowers
Grain Bin Reclaim Conveyors (4)
Grain Bin Sweep Augers
Two (2) Main Feed Legs
Flat Commodity Storage Conveyor Plug and Motion Switches
Flat Commodity Garage Door Openers (4)
Switches for Reclaim and Loadout Jump Legs
Grain Bin 2HP Exhaust Motors (32 Total)
Three (3) Hammermills
Two (2) Hammermill Drag Conveyors
Two (2) Rail Reclaim Conveyors
Two (2) Dump Reclaim Conveyors
Typical Grain Transfer
Any grain transfer is first initiated by selecting the source and destination locations. When selecting, a yellow border surrounds the device and the message center at the lower left hand corner will update indication which are selected. After the source and destination are selected the operator clicks on the Control Panel and presses Start. This starts the equipment automatically. By selecting the specific transfer that is currently running and then pressing the Stop button will sequentially shutdown the selected running process and equipment. By pressing the Abort button to either immediately shutdown the running process or all processes without a sequential shutdown.
A graphical screen will display the transfer process. Status messages, alarms, and function of the process are displayed. The equipment shown is representative of the equipment controlled.The screens are very dynamic in that all the equipment shown change shades to identify the various status conditions. Each alarm condition is logged.
Typical Grinding Process Screen
This grain terminal includes a grinding process. The grinding screen shows the roller mills and surrounding equipment. When the equipment or vessel is on or active the graphic will go from dark grey to bright white. If an alarm exists on any equipment, a red square surrounds the device with a pulsating red triangle. Each ingredient bin for the batching system also included in this grain terminal for feed milling purposes shows calculated level as a narrow bargraph and they are color coded as well. The color is determined by the level setpoints and bin inventory in the Bin Assignment table. The bargraph will be blue if the level is above the warning setpoint, yellow if between the warning and low setpoint, and red if below the low setpoint.
No matter what the grain terminal consists of or requires, Sterling Systems & Controls can control it and automate it for you to increase productivity and profitability.