Projects Worth Mentioning

Zigco 1

Zigco, Bozeman Montana. As Unique as It Gets

This is where automation meets renewable energy. Not only is this the first structure in Montana to get a solar shingle array, it is also the only known DC distribution system in Montana that has a multi-voltage DC system for 24V and 48V lighting. It includes the only known battery management system that can monitor voltage levels of each individual flooded lead acid battery within a 48V solar battery bank. This is a hybrid system that is both off-grid and grid tied. The redundant conversion process of taking the direct current produced by the solar, converting it to alternating current and then sending it to lighting that has to convert it back to DC has been eliminated. The direct current from the solar stays as a direct current and is sent straight to the lighting increasing efficiency and reliability. The solar production is optimized to where every watt of power produced is used to its maximum efficiency. From the HMI the customer can not only monitor the health of the battery bank, but also monitor each individual battery to know when one battery in the string is starting to go bad to prevent damage to the rest, protecting their investment. This system provides the customer complete control over their power and full monitoring capabilities. The customer can see in real time how much power is being produced, how much power is being used, where it is going, and the current state and health of their entire power production and usage. It also provides the ability to control where that power goes. Through the integration of a PLC into this hybrid system the customer has full control over their system where they can manually divert the flow of power to where it is needed, prioritizing and optimizing its use.

Quinn Panel

Quinn’s Hotsprings, Paradise Montana. Simple Yet Complex

All pool operations were consolidated into one easy to use control panel. While pool operations may sound simple, this complex control system was programmed in such a way to prevent any human error that could cause an overload of equipment, overflowing or over-draining of a pool, or the overwhelming of the wells. Instead of having an employee manually operate several valves and pump motors for each stage of a pool’s operation, everything was programmed and built into one industrial control panel consolidating operations down to the simple push of a single button. With a PLC programmed to monitor the state of each pool and control the automated operation, a sequence of operations for one pool would depend entirely upon which stage each of the pool’s were in. Additionally, the control panel incorporated an HMI which displayed the status of all pools and had a password protected screen which provided manual overrides for the wells, pumps, and valves. All of this is connected to the internet for remote monitoring, control, and troubleshooting.

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Arrowhead Milling, Twin Bridges Montana. An Everything Project

This all-of-the-above project involved electrical system design, industrial automation design and installation, PLC programming, and installation of industrial control panels and motor control equipment. The design phase incorporated calculating the electrical load for all equipment, lighting, outlets, etc within the building, calculating the size of the electrical service, feeder cables, conductor and conduit sizes, and then designing panel locations, lighting layout, outlet and switch locations. This was all drawn into a full sized set of blueprints that were provided for construction. After the construction was complete, the automation and control system was designed to provide full automation of the entire process. Industrial control panels were built for each individual piece of equipment, Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s) and Soft Starters were installed and programmed. One centralized PLC cabinet using a Schneider Modicon PLC along with a mobile HMI station, provided the control and monitoring of the entire factory. The mobile HMI station was designed so that it can be moved to anywhere in the facility giving the operator the ability to physically view any stage of the process while having full supervisory control and data analysis (SCADA) of the entire process. The Human Machine Interface (HMI) has the ability to display how much material is being processed by certain pieces of equipment. It also provides real-time speed controls where the operator can adjust the speed of each conveyor to speed up or slow down the material moving.

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