Tensar International was founded in the1980s and ever since its name has become synonymous with high quality mechanical ground stabilisation and soil reinforcement products. The company is a world leader thanks to its innovative solutions and technology-driven vision. Tensar invented and patented the first polymer geogrids – their Biaxal geogrids are widely used around the globe. Optima Control Solutions, an independent automation expert, was approached by Tensar and charged with the task of completely upgrading one of their Biax production line control systems.
After years in production, Tensar’s specialist Biax line located at their plant in Blackburn became progressively obsolete and inefficient. It required not only a complete mechanical upgrade but also a total control system upgrade and a complete machine rewire. Tensar needed an expert control system company flexible enough to complete the whole upgrade in a very tight time window – a total of 4 weeks. Moreover, Tensar needed work to be carried out during what is the longest holiday period for most companies – Christmas. Optima Control Solutions, headquartered just a few miles away from Tensar’s plant, accepted the challenge and teamed up with Tensar’s mechanical engineers to complete the task competently, on time and within budget.
Optima designed the new control system in accordance with Tensar’s process requirements. Optima’s solution included some smart design features that gave greater machine reliability characteristics. PLC remote I/O units were fitted in the control cubicles, control desks and junction boxes located on the Biax machine. The majority of the existing control cables could be removed which gave improved reliability and would simplify future maintenance on the machine. A redundant Siemens WinCC Scada package was installed for controlling the machine and allowed production data to be easily collected and analysed. Optima’s team utilised Siemens Scada both on the input and output control desks. This control design allowed the machine to be controlled by either Scada if one of them failed.
Finally, because Christmas is the time for presents, Optima decided to include their InfoServe365 Data Acquisition product free of charge to the offering. InfoServe365 was connected directly to the new PLC controlling the Biax line. It automatically gathers the data necessary to deliver reports and allows in-depth analysis of production operations, plant condition and energy consumption.
Joe Crane, plant engineering manager at Tensar in Blackburn, had nothing but praises for the job Optima had completed. “First of all, I am very pleased that they agreed to work over the Christmas period – it would have been impossible to complete the project at different times as we had to change the mechanics in parallel with the control system.” He stated that Optima’s upgrade contributed to an improved Biax line efficiency of at least 20%. “We now have better control and accuracy in production – speed and tension loops are great. Also, Optima managed to raise the machine safety levels to a higher standard.” Regarding the InfoServe365 package employed into the upgraded Biax line, Mr. Crane said it was a great diagnostic and data management tool that made predictive maintenance part of the plant’s production strategy. “At present, we make decisions quicker and establish changes faster. We are now able to make informed decisions and optimize production based on data we have confidence in.”