Optima Control Solutions, the industrial automation specialist company, has established its reputation as a reliable and very expert turnkey solution provider. Their client portfolio includes a number of industry leading companies such as The API Group, Tensar Manufacturing and Tullis Russell Papers.
A less well known fact about Optima is the high level of service support it provides to its customers and partners. Perhaps because in 2011 – 2012 from a client base of over 600 customers and thousands of installed applications, Optima’s engineers spent a total of just 74 days on urgent service visits, a testament to the inherent reliability of the systems they engineer.
It is a fact that the complex nature of the projects that Optima engineer requires specialist application knowledge that few companies can provide; hence, Optima’s responsibilities do not stop at the system handover point. Ongoing system support is critical to all of Optima’s customers, and supporting their control systems requires the same specialist knowledge.
Michael Hill, managing director of the company commented: “We understand how critical productivity is to our customers and consistently offer them the highest level of responsiveness when it comes to breakdowns and control system problems. Optima have engineered hundreds of control systems over the past 18 years. Remarkably, we receive a very low number of breakdown call-outs relating to the systems we design – around 40 per year from over 600 customers. We know that to our client`s downtime is very expensive and can compromise their delivery obligations. We appreciate the extreme pressures that go with manufacturing – and we respond.”
Recently, a leading paper-making company contacted Optima with a perplexing breakdown problem on a machine originally upgraded by Optima in 2005.
The upgrade project involved the replacement of 90 AC and DC drives and bringing a complex PLC and programmable safety system into line with regulatory requirements.
After a busy shutdown period, during which a long list of work tasks had been completed the subsequent machine start-up was likely to be difficult. Pinpointing the route cause is always more difficult when such a wide range of tasks have been concurrently completed.
Sensitive to the critical role the machine plays within the customer’s plant, Optima installed a remote access system with the machine’s original control system, thus enabling an immediate diagnostic response to the outage.
Liaising closely with the engineers at the customer’s site, Optima followed a number of diagnostic routes. It soon transpired however that the problem was of a very unusual nature, intermittent and with no logical pattern. A site visit was necessary. Liaising with the company’s production team Optima attended site within 12 hours and began a detailed diagnostic exercise.
The intermittent and strange system behaviour resulting from a component failure made it a difficult analysis exercise. Optima’s knowledge of the system and its fundamental control strategy meant they were able to pinpoint and resolve the issue in the shortest time with the minimum production impact.
Optima’s speed of response probably saved the most time and money.