Solving the PLC problem

Historically, manufacturing was a predominantly manual industry, but today, industrial automation has transformed the way manufacturers operate. As of 2015, the booming industrial automation industry is worth more than $200 billion globally. Enabling organisations to mass produce commodities and complete tasks with increased speed and quality, industrial automation has become an unbeatable ally in manufacturing environments. Although automation may reign supreme when it comes to choosing machinery, identifying the right automation software can cause headaches.

Based in the United Kingdom, DBIS provides cargo, asset, automation and resource control to enhance performance and profitability for bulk and break bulk terminals. Serving the automation, rail, marine and conveyor industries, DBIS, a leading terminal operating system (TOS) provider, has perfected a solution for smoother integration of SCADA software for all of its models of programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

The requirements

For the majority of PLCs, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) provides proprietary SCADA software, tailored specifically for use with the respective machinery. Any engineer will know the headache of finding compatible PLCs for manufacturing environments.

DBIS had this exact problem. As a result, the organisation started looking for a software solution that was not specific to one PLC manufacturer alone and, therefore, was capable of working across DBIS’ range of projects, regardless of the make and model. The obvious solution was to find software independent of any hardware provider. Seeking software that could be standardised for all automation platforms, DBIS sought help from independent supplier of industrial automation software, COPA-DATA UK.

The solution

By choosing COPA-DATA UK and its industrial automation software, zenon, DBIS could ensure there would be no issues integrating the software onto PLCs of different manufacturers.

By using hardware independent software, like zenon, DBIS was able to deploy this standardised software across all its projects. Now, with zenon, DBIS can offer its tried, tested and trusted solution across the waste, mining, tunnelling to materials handling, conveyor and rail industries. However, the benefits of choosing zenon did not end with improved compatibility for hardware.

One of the greatest benefits DBIS gained from implementing zenon came from using it in the company’s waste projects. When developing standard components for use in SCADA systems for the waste industry, DBIS was able to specifically tailor these components and construct a comprehensive system in just a few days – all with the help of specific project, object and symbol tailoring from zenon. As a result, the excepted workload of these projects decreased dramatically, meaning DBIS did not need to hire additional engineers, saving both the organisation and its respective customers’ money.

“Compared with some other automation software, zenon was incredibly easy to pick up,” explained Glyn Thomas, sales consultant at DBIS. “Of course, there is always going to be some anxiety surrounding new software, but we find that the best way for our engineers to understand it better is to train them as early as possible.

“COPA-DATA UK offered a concise, short, but incredibly efficient training course for its software,” continued Thomas. “In fact, several of our engineers have joined the course and returned as self-confessed zenon experts, in as little as three days.”

DBIS has been working with COPA-DATA UK since their initial collaboration in 2008. With over seven years’ experience of working with zenon, and as an experienced member of COPA-DATA’s the Partner Community, DBIS can offer advanced and proven industry solutions to the waste, mining and tunnelling, materials handling, conveyor and rail industries helping customers make the most of the latest generations of smart industrial automation equipment.

Martyn Williams is managing director at COPA-DATA UK