Weekend shutdown sees pump system upgraded to latest Siemens Sinamics drives and S7-1200 PLC

When faced with the unreliability and ageing Crabtree motor starter sets, a leading manufacturer of waterproofing products turned to Optima for assistance. The existing pump control system was direct on-line and required pump changeovers to be initiated manually.

Old Pump Control Starter Panels

The solution was to replace the existing starter panels with a single panel housing 18.5kW and 30kW variable speed drives with a S7-1200 PLC controlling pump changeover from a 4 inch Basic HMI. This display shows providing pump status, hour run and pump selection buttons and also allows the system to run in fully Automatic or Manual modes.

New Pump Control Panel In-Situ

The installation task had to be completed during a weekend shutdown, requiring careful coordination between production and our engineering team to schedule the works.

Inside The New Control Cabinet

The system was powered up ready to run in full production before Monday’s switch-on.

Improved Performance And Reliability Following Upgrade From Hydraulic Motors To AC Geared Motors

When a major paper producer was faced with increasingly temperamental performance from the existing hydraulic drive control system on their Valmet KL Winder, they turned to Optima for assistance. The system suffered from uncontrolled starting from cold until the hydraulics had reached normal temperature. However, even at normal operating temperature, there were still issues with tension control being unpredictable.

Optima were asked to suggest possible upgrade solutions for the winder. Our solution was to use a Siemens Sinamics drive system, controlled from our own custom-written winder blocks. Optima’s winder blocks are PLC-based and provide all the functionality required of any winding application.

The new drive system was specifically designed to suit the exact material tensions, roll diameters and operating speeds of the winder to ensure both performance and cost needs were met. The actual products run on winders sometimes differ from the manufacturers own design.

A complete new control suite was built to house the new PLC and drive hardware. Installation was managed by Optima.

Final Commissioning was carried out by our own engineers specialising in web transport systems.

Tuning of the fully-compensated system was carried out over a series of product trials on different grades of paper. The drive control system is complex, not just for accurate tension control but also to drive either end of the paper unwind with separate AC geared motors – not an easy task to achieve. Optima’s control algorithms ensure that control of the unwind reel is shared equally between each drive whilst also preventing ‘slippage’ of the driving mandrel within the unwind core.

Optima will be pleased to provide a no-obligation site visit to discuss how we might improve the performance of your existing winder or for a completely new upgrade.

Please telephone: Andy Coverdale or Mark Lane on 01254 272829 to discuss your requirements in more detail.

Automax and PLC 5 to PowerFlex Drives and Control Logix Upgrade on Metalliser

In this upgrade, carried out during a planned shutdown, an Automax controller and obsolete DC drives were removed and replaced by new AC Powerflex 753 drives and AC vector motors. The SLC500 rack was replaced by a new Control Logix rack and remote IO on Ethernet. The now redundant PanelMax HMI was replaced by a new InTouch system from Wonderware.

The full scope of work, carried out by our own engineers in-house included:

  • Hardware calculations/rating for drives
  • Customer project specifications for upgrade
  • Project design specification
  • Full Circuit diagrams for the upgraded equipment
  • Test documents to validate the new equipment operation
  • Software specifications and sequence diagrams

Details of a typical metalliser drive control system are shown below. Optima know the metalliser drives process intricately. We have upgraded over 10 metalliser drive systems from various manufacturers and can offer a comprehensive upgrade to bring control of your machine drive system up to the standards of a new metalliser.

Optima will be pleased to provide a no obligation site visit to discuss how we implemented this upgrade and how we can help upgrade your machine to new supportable equipment.

Please telephone: Andy Coverdale, Mark Lane, Michael Hill on 01254 272829 to discuss your requirements in more detail. Alternatively e-mail us at  E-Mail Sales.

Optima’s upgrade solution for a Sirpak 200 cut-to-length Machine system reduces waste by 9km per week

Optima were approached by an internationally renowned packaging manufacturer, particularly specialised in cartons, labels and leaflets. The company’s manufacturing facilities across the globe must deliver maximum efficiency and reliability to enable excellent customer service and innovative packaging designs.

Their Scotland-based plant was faced with obsolescence and unreliability of a Sirpak 200 tube forming and cut to length machine. The linear tube-forming line on site is used for the production of all-shape composite cans. It allows the manufacturer to produce odd-shape packaging for premium brands such as Chivas Regal and Glenfiddich. Customers in this sector demand high-quality materials and unique packaging designs. If their supplier is unable to produce these up to standard and on time, it would be losing significant amounts of revenue. This is where Optima got involved to provide a stand-alone registration system to replace the existing cut-to-length equipmentSirpak 200 Linear Tube Forming Machine.

The new system that Optima developed incorporated a fully integrated Siemens platform with Simotion Drive equipment, Simatic PLC and a Siemens Synchronous Motor gearbox combination.

New features for the machine – a Sirpak 200 – included a recipe interface for the different packaging tube lengths produced on the machine. To minimise downtime at change-over from the old equipment to new, Optima installed a new panel, encoder and PEC next to the existing units without interfering with the existing control system. Because of this, the project commissioning was completed in 5 days without problems or delays.

Of greatest benefit to the customer is the reduction in waste that was achieved following the upgrade. Michael Hill, Managing Director at Optima, explained the future benefits further: “The current system was sheet-fed, which means there is unprinted material (3’’) between each repeat length. Following detailed consultation with the customer, Optima’s control system facilitated the use of printed rolls instead of sheets, thus eliminating the requirement for unprinted sections. With 3″ saved on every 40″ of material, the new system would facilitate a 7.5% reduction in product waste. As the company produces thousands of metres of carton per week (approximately 40 metres/minute for 10 hours per day, 5 days per week equating to 120,000 metres) the savings equate to 9km of less waste every week.”
Please telephone: Andy Coverdale, Mark Lane, or Michael Hill on 01254 272829 to discuss your requirements in more detail.

Metal Decorating Press Upgrade using Siemens Simotion S120 + D425 controller + Simatic S7 PLC

In this project, Optima provided a complete new control system for a Metal Decorating Press. In order to print the colours correctly aligned, all axes must be fully synchronised. Optima chose to use Sinamics S120 Drives and the D425 motion controller to achieve the required accuracy.

The control system was a completely integrated package from Siemens with use of remote IO stations to minimise machine wiring time.

This video was taken during final commissioning of the machine.

The project was managed from the initial site survey, through specification, design and finally commissioning on-site by Optima.

Initial advice was offered to the customer to cover aspects such as

  • Operational and process risk assessment
  • Fixed guarding integrity and guarding access points
  • Hazardous areas that require EEx rated equipment

This allowed to to design the system to accommodate machinery safety and environmental operating conditions in addition to the major drive control aspects.

The machine software was custom-developed for the application to encompass:

  • Main machine PLC sequences
  • Operator Visualisation (HMI)
  • Motion Control Equipment functionality
  • Safety Controller Programming/Configuration

Main Panel with Sinamics Drives on test before shipping

Main Operator Desk











All built equipment from Optima was tested for both build quality and correct functionality before the control enclosures were boxed and braced ready for shipping to site via sea freight.

Commissioning of the supplied control equipment and software was completed with the assistance of the end users engineering and operational personnel. This is important as it allows a natural ‘hand-over’ of equipment to the end user so they become comfortable with owning the new control system.

During this phase machine process functionality and machine operational safety was tested using the following documents supplied as part of the project such as:

  • Optima project design specification
  • Circuit diagrams
  • Commissioning software test plan
  • Software specifications and sequence diagrams

Please feel free to speak to us and find out how we can help to upgrade your printing machines to the latest state-of-the-art automation hardware and give you total ownership of the eventual control system supplied.

Pegler Yorkshire record 25% uptime improvement after control system upgrade by Optima



Some of Pegler's products



Pegler Yorkshire designs and manufactures innovative and reliable branded connect & control solutions for the worldwide plumbing and heating industry. The company has invested heavily in their manufacturing facilities at an average rate of £3.5m per annum. These developments, involving significant capital equipment investment, have resulted in major customer benefits including shorter lead times, improved response and reduced costs.

One recent upgrade project was completed at the manufacturer’s plant in Leeds, UK. The original requirement of the project was to replace the drive system of a cold forging press. It had given great service for 20 years but was becoming problematic due to the obsolescence and unreliability of the control equipment. The press punches out copper tube billets from solid copper rod which are used in the manufacture of various sizes of fittings. These fittings are used in the plumbing industry for connecting copper tube together in water, gas and central heating systems. Optima Control Solutions, the Blackburn-based systems integrator, came up with a turnkey solution to integrate into the existing control system.

A new AC motor from TECC replaced an obsolete DC motor. The old DC motor required frequent maintenance to keep the machine in production. In addition, new AC drives from Parker Hannifin were configured to use existing control signals to operate the press in the same way as the existing drives. The control system design was compliant with the latest EN60204-1; EN954-1 safety standards and the EN61800-3 EMC Product Standard. Upgrading to the new AC motor and control system realised a 25% uplift in availability, resulting in significantly increased production output.

Tony Lepecha, Electrical Systems Engineer at Pegler Yorkshire, explained: “As a result of this upgrade project, we are enjoying a number of improvements. The new system increased the press production availability by 25 %. We have not had any downtime problems since install. The new control system also improved our energy efficiency by 3 to 5% and the upgrade significantly lowered our maintenance requirements – from 2 hours per week to mere 10 minutes per month! In addition, our maintenance costs are down as well – the old motor required regular repairs costing approximately £1500 per year. Currently, the new motor has incurred no cost.”

Pegler Press - survey of the old control cubicles

KUKA Robotics and Optima CS team up to deliver maximum reliability to paper mill

Following the waves of industrial innovation over recent years, as part of a fundamental drive to maximise productivity, one of the leading paper manufacturers has deployed industrial robots for label application to its finished products, the company’s Flintshire-based paper mill faced some serious problems with one of the robots functioning on site.

According to the lines automation engineer “Over the last couple of years our label applicator robot has becoming increasingly unreliable, resulting in a number of breakdowns which we cannot accept”. He added, “If we experience an 8 hour downtime event, it can lead to the mill stopping production”. The deteriorating reliability of the robot was clearly critical and warranted the purchase of a new robot.

The paper makers’ engineers thus presented their user requirement specification for a new robot to a few robotics companies. They explained that KUKA Robots, the German producer of industrial robots, most closely matched their brief in terms of capabilities and cost. Mark Fisher, project engineer at KUKA Robotics, commented: “Being cost competitive was an obvious key factor in winning the contract, but we also offered better overall value for the customer together with excellent customer support throughout the project”. KUKA Robots employed a 3G router solution and made sure that remote robot diagnostics are possible via LogMeIn (a remote control desktop website). According to Mark Fisher, the most challenging part of the project was calculating the arc the robot had to take relative to the roll diameter and width sent over the bus by the PLC.

To partner, Optima Control Solutions Ltd, an expert independent automation company, was approached by KUKA Robots and charged with the task of programming, installing and commissioning the new robot. Optima had to integrate the new robot with the existing machine control system. The mill’s automation engineer told us: “We had complete confidence in the company’s expertise – KUKA recommended Optima as the best system integrator out there. Their joint offering was within our budget and with their excellent reputation we had no doubts that they would do a great job.”

Stephen Carradice, Optima’s system design engineer explained that his main tasks were to engineer and commission the robot control software and to arrange integration between the existing Siemens S7 PLC and the new robot controls using a ProfiBus communications interface. The mill engineer commented: “Stephen’s technical competence was extremely good he was very thorough. Steve had only 12 hours to complete the complex installation and he managed to complete the job very successfully within that very limited time frame.”

When asked to summarise the overall benefits resulting from this project, the automation engineer told us: “Improved reliability was the main aim for us; the robot is now functioning 100% of the time so we can claim the whole project to be a success. It is critically important for us to maximise our machine uptimes and KUKA’s solution is fully delivering on its promise. A number of other automation projects are planned and we are looking forward to working with Optima and KUKA Robots again.”

Optima Deliver Control Solution For Bridon International


Bridon International Ltd. is a world-leading manufacturer supplying specialist metal rope and wire solutions for a number of heavy industries. Their products are widely used in demanding environments such as oil and gas installations, mining and structural projects. With such diverse, complex and safety critical applications, Bridon’s products must meet the highest quality standards.

Bridon’s Doncaster plant in the UK manufactures a very wide range of wire products in order to meet the full spectrum of customer requirements. They, therefore, need flexibility from their production plant.

Optima Control Solutions, an independent automation expert, designed and supplied a new control system for the Doncaster based hot dip galvanizing line. Performance, flexibility and safety were at the heart of their design considerations.

Arron Woodiwiss, Bridon Doncaster’s electrical project engineer comments: “Cost was only one of the factors in favour of choosing Optima. We have worked with them in the past and they have demonstrated the experience and the specialist expertise that we were looking for.”

Optima’s task was to supply the controls for 8 new Vertical Take Up units. Arron told us: “Production requirements for increased piece weights demanded increased performance and capacity. Bridon designed and managed the manufacture of 8 new VTU units to replace existing equipment. Operational benefits associated with larger weights would include less handling, longer run times and therefore improved Plant OEE. Obsolescence of the existing control equipment did play a smaller, though important part of the justification”.

Optima’s solution employed a total of 16 Leroy Somer AC motors (8 capstan motors and 8 turntable gear motors). In order to control the speed and torque of these motors accurately during the galvanising process, Emerson’s “Control techniques” AC drives were used. Any variation in the speed of the wire in the galvanising tanks would have resulted in non-uniformed coating of the wire. This in turn would have resulted in unsellable product being produced.

Working closely with the production personnel, Optima supplied an ergonomically designed operator control interface using Siemens S7-300 PLC and Siemens TP177 Micro HMI.

A complex emergency stop system was also designed to provide safe machine access with minimum production disruption. Optima’s final task having engineered the advanced PLC, drive and safety control system was to commission the whole project.

The control system installation and commissioning was completed in a very short time period over the Plants summer Shutdown period minimising additional production disruption, always a critical element for manufacturers.

The project realised a number of improvements for Bridon International; these included reduced product changeover times, better production performance, higher availability and increased product quality. Arron Woodiwiss explained “The upgrade extended the production line performance rates, consequently we now enjoy better competitiveness. Through improved process control we were able to expand the product range, as well. Overall, Optima delivered a control solution on time, on budget and our production performance increased as expected”.

Optima Control Solutions Boosts Production Performance for Tensar

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.

The problem:

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.

The solution:

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.

The benefits:

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.”