Location: Bumpass, Virginia
Scope: Custom-designed process SCADA & control system for wood pellet production facility.

Summary: ICAD developed a process control system for a new wood pelleting plant in Bumpass, VA. Our expert engineers designed all electrical controls on the system, built all electrical panels and supplied the Motor Control Center. We also provided construction management services to supervise the local electrical construction crew.

One of the biggest challenges in designing a new production facility is how to integrate all of the equipment into an organized system.  Most processes consist of equipment from several manufactures that may or may not “talk” the same communication protocols.  Fortunately, ICAD has a long history of developing manufacturing plants and is well versed in bringing together equipment from multiple manufactures to make them work as one.

Our engineers integrated all controls with a custom manufactured control system for the pellet mill. This required precision collaboration with remote manufacturing engineers. Our teams worked with each functional part of the manufacturing process and integrated the control system for each product line. Even though we have expert electrical expertise in our sister company, Lighthouse Electrical, this project involved local contractors. We sourced and supervised their work to ensure it met our high-quality standards as if the work was our own.

The project included Allen Bradley PLCs, Wonderware process SCADA, and Automation Direct C-More HMI’s for this production facility.  The Allen Bradley PLC was used as the main data consolidator–all inputs and outputs were fed into this unit.  Additionally, the Allen Bradley PLC contained all logic for split-second control of the system.  Some of the equipment required safety rated control.  For example, spark detectors located throughout the process would detect a spark and actuate water deluge valves to put out any fires.  These safety related functions were handled by safety related equipment, without the involvement of the PLC.

Data from the Allen Bradley PLC was sent to the Wonderware SCADA system.  Wonderware SCADA allows operators to view the data from terminals located throughout the facility while also allowing key data to be transmitted to corporate headquarters.  In addition to the process SCADA system, small automation direct C-More HMI’s were used on select individual machines to display key variables that an operator may need.

We pride ourselves on our ability to execute correctly and deliver quality engineering and electrical work on projects like this that often require custom solutions, creative engineering and industry experts to deliver. – Joel Ratto, Vice President, ICAD Automation

An often-overlooked aspect of many control system integrations is project management.  Many people become focused on deciding the technical aspects of a project, while forgetting that you need to ensure timelines, budgets and quality standards are met.

Additionally, control systems can take a back seat to other aspects of a construction project.  Usually control systems operate in the background, without much fanfare.  Because of this, customers can be much more interested in the mechanical specifications on a key piece of equipment rather than what brand of PLC they want to use.  Because we have end-to-end expertise in all stages of automation projects we understand this, and are able to better manage projects.  With this project, this included managing long lead time items and ensuring that local construction was safe for employees while still completing it correctly the first time around.

At completion, turning on the power and running the system is very rewarding to all, but our job was not done.  Unlike some integration companies that leave the project as soon as you are up and running, we stayed onsite for several weeks after initial startup, fine tuning variables, process loops and interlock sequences to ensure that the process would work reliably under any circumstance.  Additionally, remote access to the process SCADA system allows us to maintain  and troubleshoot the system remotely, without having to set foot onsite.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.