Batten & Allen

InControl designed and built a new control system with SCADA for a reel to reel plating system for precision stamped parts destined for aerospace grade electrical connectors.

Batten & Allen won a new precision component order for the aerospace sector and needed to build a new production line to be commissioned on time against a tight deadline.

On top of this, the UK was locked-down during the Coronavirus pandemic at the exact time for commissioning the system.

The Company

Batten & Allen of Cirencester in the Cotswolds – UK, specialize in high quality production of precision stamped parts, mostly undergoing reel to reel electroplating, including multi-finish, selective and precious metals.

The Problem

Usually Batten & Allen design and manufacture their own production lines, but they needed an advanced systems integrator to design and manufacture the control panel, PLC and SCADA application software, to allow them to be able to efficiently call up plating recipes, by customer product code, with a minimal changeover time and being able to automate line speed and weir heights, unique to each customer job.

The Solution

InControl Systems Ltd of Chesterfield were selected for the project after being referred to Batten & Allen by PP Control & Automation, a contract manufacturer in the West Midlands.

But with the production due to start in June, this meant that development, design and build of the system was all conducted during COVID-19 lockdown, and with install and commissioning during the 2m social distancing guidelines.

The new plating line consisted of a reel to reel process, feeding the 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.

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 were involved in the project from the start, creating a functional design specification, performing the electrical design ready for their control panel builders to assembly. InControl’s software engineers then developed the software for the Allen Bradley CompactLogix PLC program as well as the configuration of the operator interface using FactoryTalk View SE, which allows the operator to run the different sequences and call-up the various product recipes for each customer order.

RecipePro+ inside FactoryTalk View SE provides advanced recipe management, giving the operator a very easy and efficient way to set up the full plating line with the selection of a required product recipe. The advanced recipe management and the modular design of the line complemented each other allowing the operator to enable and disable specific plating cells or equipment as required.

Once the control system was designed, built, and shipped to site, two of InControl Systems’ engineering team attended site for final test, commissioning and hand-over.

The hardware & software
  • Rockwell FactoryTalk View SE Server Client SCADA System
  • Rockwell FactoryTalk Historian
  • Allen Bradley CompactLogix
  • 10 x Allen Bradley PowerFlex 525 drives on Ethernet
  • 24 x DOL Starters
Remote access – an essential tool during lock-down and restricted access

InControl’s Technical Director – Jan Hemper said:

“This was a really interesting project, with multiple PID loops controlled by the PLC and speed control of the reel to reel feed, this was a combination of process control & automation. We decided that it was a ‘must’ to have remote access to the control system, especially during these times of restricted access. Our biggest challenge, however, was finding accommodation for our commission engineers…”

InControl’s Applications Engineer – Danny Millward said:

“From the beginning through to the final commissioning this was a very exciting project. The concept design of the plating line resulted in a very multifaceted hardware and software design process, overcome by innovative ideas from the engineers here at InControl”.

Our Smart Factory Aspirations

Batten & Allen’s Senior Plating Manager – John Bartle said:

“We have considerable experience of plating processes here, but the challenging requirements of a new aerospace part number meant we needed to invest in a cutting edge line with ‘state of the art’ capabilities. Working in close partnership with a systems integrator like InControl Systems was key to this and allowed us to deliver a system that is part of our future Smart Factory aspirations”.

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