Schematic representation of the artificial, dynamic conveying system model.
iSAM has developed and implemented a scalable load controller, which offers an optimized equipment utilization and maximum of comfort to the operator, when tracking and controlling complex blending orders in today's busy bulk export and import terminals.
Bulk export and import terminals typically have extreme levels of equipment utilization. At most locations, the equipment is utilized 24/7 and waiting times create a considerable impact on the profit margin. To ensure the best interaction of the available machinery, perfect timing and a high level of co-ordination has to be realized.
For work orders which are limited to a certain amount of material, e. g. hatch loading of sea going vessels, it is mandatory to stop the material source in due time to prevent excessive material on the conveyors, unnecessary stopping and starting of loaded belts and time-consuming repeat orders.
To offer a wider range of products, it is common business to blend materials of different quality grades. For this, it is not only important to monitor the total amount of material on the belts, but also to maintain the required ratio of the different materials.
In general, yard and port machines are equipped with belt scale systems to monitor the material flow. Ground conveyors have belt scales at strategic positions, too. Nowadays those systems often deliver information to a central operator, who then instructs the individual machine operator to start/stop or adjust the material flow, but only a permanent analysis of all available inputs combined with the knowledge of the current work order can result in optimal performance and time savings.
iSAM’s Advanced Conveyor Load Controller (ACLC) relieves the operator from the individual conveyor control by grouping material sources, destination and necessary conveyor belts together. It controls the material amount and guarantees the perfect material blend.
To date, most conveyor belts have been operated at a fixed speed the whole time. The utilization of the conveyor belts, also called conveyor load, is often far below their nominal utilization for a variety of reasons. As the ACLC knows the current material distribution on all conveyor belts of a production group, it dynamically optimizes and controls the belt speed for conveyors equipped with variable-speed drives to ensure the optimum utilization. The reduced conveying speed produces real benefits through the reduction in energy consumption as well as on noise emissions and in particular in the maintenance of the belts; 50% slower means approximately 75% less wear and tear.
The ACLC also has a hatch and train loading module to automatically pause the material flow according to the loading plan allowing the shiploader to change hatches or the train loadout to receive the next train. In the automated mode, the machines will first be set to pause and then automatically continue the material feed without any operator action. For non-automated machines, the ACLC can give the necessary information feedback to the machine operator.
The iSAM Advanced Conveyor Load Controller provides the perfect link between individual automation solutions of the iSAM port automation portfolio, like the fully automated train loadout or ship loading. It helps reduce human interaction to the process to a bare minimum and hence makes it not only possible to control the entire loading process from a remote location, but also to provide an unprecedented level of automation, enabling one operator to feed several ship or train loaders from multiple, blending capable sources easily from a central control room.
The latest system has been recently installed and commissioned at Hansaport, Port of Hamburg, Germany, where it tracks and controls all material flow throughout the terminal. The iSAM Advanced Conveyor Load Controller is fully operational also in the Port of Rotterdam and can be implemented in virtually every other export and import terminal.
Advantages of the ACLC
* maximization of conveyor utilization; i.e. minimization of idle times;
* load-based speed control reducing power consumption, noise emission and wear and tear;
* grouping of conveyors, material sources and destination into production groups;
* full conveyor control and automated starting / stopping of production groups;
* position-based tracking of material amounts;
* dynamic setpoints for material sources to guarantee the perfect blend;
* feedback to machine operators during manual operation of stockyard equipment; and
* complete programming inside a central programmable logic controller (PLC) of any brand by customer’s choice
About the company
iSAM AG, Gesellschaft fuer angewandte Kybernetik, located in Muelheim an der Ruhr, Germany, develops and implements automation solutions that enable industry, commerce and service suppliers to increase their performance. iSAM’s team includes specialists from the engineering, computer science and physics sectors as well as business economics, focusing on increasing customer value. The company’s customers can be found all over the world and in almost every industry, such as mining, bulk handling, transport and logistics, steel and metal manufacturing and processing, tube welding and pipeline construction, mechanical engineering and plant building, electronics and aerospace.