Mineral Processing Control


Many materials are valuable and require automated control.  Mineral processing control is especially important for high value minerals, such has calcium carbonate. EspeciallyProcess Control Screen Sample calcium carbonate of a highly pure nature. In this application example a customer needed to efficiently automate the control of their mineral milling process.  Large and extensive mineral processing control needed to be custom engineered to meet the customer very specific objectives. How large?  We can’t reveal too much but just suffice to say the P&ID is at least a dozen sheets with hundreds of measuring and control process points. Needless to say mineral processing control can require extensive equipment and automation.

Sterling Systems & Controls worked with this customer and listened to them as they described their objectives over several discussions.  Sterling’s dedicated engineering employees worked as a team with a project manager leading and involved from the point of sale through beyond start-up.  And they continue involvement running point working with the customer to make modifications and updates so that the process automation and control system works to optimize the process and end product, efficiency and profitability.  The Sterling Systems automation system provided included:

  • One PLC Main Control Panel
  • Three Operator Stations
  • Twelve UL Listed Ethernet I/O PLC Control Panels
  • Six MCC back panels with PLCs
  • Sterling’s state-of-the-art .NET application control software including Graphical Process Screens, Recipe/Formula Screens and Real-Time Trending and Troubleshooting Screens
  • Sterling’s PMPLanR Preventative Maintenance Planning Software Application
Service Tag Screen

The Mineral Processing Control and Automation System is configured with seven (7) Sterling .NET workstations, three (3) in the control room with dual monitors on each, one (1) engineering work station in the IT room, and then three (3) on the production floor. There is an HMI/Data network and then another PLC/IO/Drives network to maximize overall network efficiency.

The three (3) HMI operator control stations located in the packaging and load out areas are supplied in NEMA4/12 mild steel, wall mounted enclosures, with NEMA4/12 vortex coolers. Inside each panel is a thin client connected to a virtual machine that resides on the control room. Each HMI Touchscreen Panel displays Sterling’s .NET software and is located on the processing floor near each area of its control.

Mineral Processing Control
Mineral Processing Controls

From the HMI PC Stations the operator can define operating parameters including alarm set-points, ingredients, ingredient parameters, formula/set-points with required ingredients and their weights. The software has the capability to have multiple security levels for various operator access privileges.

The virtual machines communicate to a PLC mounted in the control room via the Ethernet HMI network to receive operating parameters. The PLC interfaces with the Ethernet IO MCC PLC racks/modules, as well as the VFD’s on the PLC network. There are two dedicated networks, one for HMI communication and the other for PLC/VFD communication. They interface with MCC buckets and the 120 volt 60 Hz and 4-20 ma signals to the batching and process control equipment.

As part of Sterling Systems standard support to all customers with Sterling software, the PLC and HMI programs are easily modified via VPN access eliminating costly service calls. All of the components and software used are non-proprietary and are available from hundreds of suppliers.

All HMI screens conform to ISA101, ISO11064-5, and ASM standards and guidelines. All communication protocol between thin clients and host machines will be RDP.


If you have process system automation and control objectives, give us a call or send us an email.  We will listen to you objectives and requirements and then can work with you to develop solutions to meet those objectives.  Call 1-815-625-0852 or email us at sci@sterlingcontrols.com