There is a choice with networking components as a part of an ‘intelligent’ panel when it comes to electrical switchgear solutions, and then how to interconnect the devices, can often raise concerns about system complexity and overall cost.
But, a recent evaluation undertaken by system integrator, Saftronics has revealed that by adopting an intelligent panel and networked components when seeking to replace obsolete switchgear, end users can reap proven time and cost savings, as well as enjoying peace-of-mind, courtesy of a ‘future-proofed’ technology solution.
Turning theory into reality
Having discussed the adoption of an intelligent panel and networked components as part of an obsolete switchgear replacement project for their client BYK Additives, Saftronics took the intelligent panel concept one step further by a proposal to network its solution using Siemens’ Ethernet based technology.
Siemens is now offering cost competitive Ethernet (Profinet protocol) based variants of its market-leading SIMOCODE motor management device, including features such as remote access to data via integrated web server, automatic device replacement using discovery protocols (LLDP) and availability for cloud based systems using Open Platform Communications (OPC), so concerns over cost implications can now be set aside, according to Mark Godfrey, Saftronics’ managing director.
He commented: “The proposal to our client BYK Additives was based upon the latest Profinet variants of Siemens’ motor control devices; SIMOCODE and SINAMICS G120 variable speed drives. Together, we thought not only was it the best technology solution for the client, but it would almost certainly be a basis for the most cost effective construction of the panel.
“In our early discussions with BYK it became clear it was seeking a robust, networked solution that offered maximum reliability and availability benefits. We were encouraged to discover that the client was also willing to explore what is effectively ‘future-proofed’ technology. Our solution, based on Profinet, would offer BYK maximum system availability, and, importantly, easy access to data from anywhere within its network.”
To better understand the robustness of the proposed Profinet solution, Godfrey tasked his engineering team with undertaking a thorough review of the advantages and disadvantages of respective Profinet and Fieldbus (Profibus) based technologies, including the impact of installation time.
The results were illuminating
Godfrey continued: “We found that by evaluating previous projects which had used Fieldbus and Ethernet (Profinet technologies), while Profinet devices were typically 10-15% more expensive to procure, the installation costs were reduced by in excess of 50%. In addition, we saw that the Profinet network as a ‘plug and play’ concept worked immediately, saving testing time, and it was also quicker to prove when installed on site.”
Throughout the sales process, Saftronics tried to exceed customer expectations, promoting the automatic device replacement concept and highlighting that this would best address BYK’s need to keep site operator input to a minimum. Most Profinet devices can be automatically replaced and reconfigured using Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP).
However, due to the efficiencies of the technology solution, Saftronics was also able to include Siemens SIMOCODE initialisation modules with withdrawable starters as part of the overall cost effective package. The device details, including operating parameters and IP address, are permanently stored in the rear of the MCC and can be downloaded to a new device as it is installed.
The inherent flexibility, resilience and productivity benefits of the Profinet-based solution have been well received by BYK. Steve Kalaher, Principal Process Engineer at BYK Additives, Widnes, explained: “Having been an early adopter of industrial Ethernet several years ago, we were very excited by the Saftronics/Siemens’ proposal of extending this network to device level. There were a number of interesting elements to the proposal, but routing to the devices from a control room or remotely via secure VPN log on, as well as the auto configuration of devices, stood out as being particularly interesting elements of the overall solution.”
From both system integrator and end user perspectives, the provision of a panel using Profinet technology is proven to be cost neutral when compared to traditional fieldbus solutions. At the same time, it is also allowing BYK Additives to realise numerous process benefits without focussing upon potentially off putting financial penalties.