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.

Automax and PLC5 to PowerFlex Drives and Control Logix Upgrade

Obsolete AutoMax Rack

Optima recently carried out an upgrade on a complex Automax-based drive system running on an obsolete PLC5 controller. The customer requirement was that the old Automax controller rack, PLC5 and obsolete DC drives were  removed in one complete shutdown and replaced with the latest state-of-the-art technology.

Optima achieved this by replacing the DC drives and motors were by  new AC Powerflex 753 drives and AC vector motors. Additionally, the PLC 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 included:

  • Hardware calculations/rating for drives
  • Customer project specifications
  • Project design specification
  • Circuit diagrams
  • Special test documents
  • Software specifications and sequence diagrams
  • Installation of new panels and motors on-site

    New Control Logix PLC and PowerFlex Drives Panel

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: Mark Lane, Michael Hill or Andy Coverdale on 01254 272829 to discuss your requirements in more detail.

Optima to host Parker’s automation exhibition roadshow

Parker_BannerTruckTour_1 Parker_BannerTruckTour_2 Parker_BannerTruckTour_3

Optima Control Solutions are excited to host Parker Hannifin’s Automation on Tour Roadshow in July.

Come along to discover how Parker and Optima can help you to improve the performance and reliability of your machines and processes, bringing increased productivity and profitability.

Parker invite you to see a wide range of their latest automation products and solutions covering pneumatic, fluid control, electromechanical motion and drives technologies. Technical experts will also be available to discuss your automation challenges.

Parker: Automation on Tour

The exhibition will be open on July 15th between 10:00 and 14:00. Everyone is welcome, please just drop in when it suits you, address below:

Blackburn Technology Management Centre
Unit 3
Challenge Way

visit them now

Roadshow visitors will also have the chance to win 1 of 5 Gift Experience pack prizes.

For more information visit:

New Ethernet-based Parker Link system supercedes SSD fibre optic

Parker 590+ DC Drives

Parker 590+ DC Drives

Link 2 fibre optic systems are recognised for their reliability, high performance and noise-free transfer of data for web transport systems. Originally developed by SSD Drives in the 1980’s the Link technology is still widely in use today. However, now that Link 2 has officially been declared obsolete, what are the replacement options available?

In 2015, Parker officially launched the new Ethernet-based Link replacement system to selected integrators for proving. Optima were one of the first companies to successfully bring this technology to the field.

The drives upgrade was undertaken on a high-performance paper winding machine. This drive system comprises a main Siemens PLC and HMI communicating with the Parker drive system over Profibus.

New Ethernet-Based Link Tech Box

New Ethernet-Based Link Tech Box

Having successfully integrated over 30 Link systems since forming the company – including a 110-drive system for a coating line at a leading papermaker – you can be sure that Optima have the know-how to implement any system effectively.

Optima will be pleased to provide a no-obligation site visit to discuss how the Ethernet Link technology can replace your existing fibre-optic system or for a completely new upgrade.

Please Contact Us to discuss your requirements in more detail.

PUWER Bridging The Gap

End users of equipment understand their obligations under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. PUWER is now a familiar acronym across all manufacturing sectors, with time and effort being applied to surveys and reports highlighting machine deficiencies and non-conformities.

This document describes how Optima can help OEM’s and End Users interpret report findings and apply safety strategies to their equipment.

Please telephone or e-mail us at Optima with details of your machine. We can then provide you with a budget quotation to cover your machinery safety requirements.

 Download our PUWER Bridging The Gap PDF here

Optima Control Solutions sees its overseas market expand

A recent article by Lancashire Telegraph highlights Optima Control Solutions securing of a multi-Million pound contract to supply a lithographic coating line to Jeil C&P Ltd., a printing plate manufacturer based in Daegu, South Korea.

With the assistance of NatWest Bank and UKTI, Optima managed to win the highest value contract ever secured by the company in 20 years of successful trading.

Individually, the contract value equals Optima’s par turn-over figure for recent years. It’s successful acquisition and delivery demonstrates Optima’s continued evolution as a key player in the manufacturing sector.

Michael Hill MD of Optima, Simon Watson, of NatWest, Ian Harrison, of NatWest and Steve Cowles

Michael Hill MD of Optima, Simon Watson, of NatWest, Ian Harrison, of NatWest and Steve Cowles


Amidst stiff competition from China, where the labour cost base is significantly lower than in the UK, Optima’s track record of supplying high quality engineered solutions won out.

Michael Hill said “My hope is that further UK and overseas opportunities will arise and we can continue to broaden Optima’s project portfolio and contribute further to the UK manufacturing sector”.

Click here to read the full article on the Lancashire Telegraph website.

Optima beef-up a Charity Goulash Stall

Earlier this month, on the 5th of December, the 25th edition of the Victorian-themed Whalley Pickwick Festival was held. This year some of the festival’s activities such as live pipe and brass music, children’s entertainment and a giant’s ferris wheel could not be set up as planned due to the severe weather conditions. Nevertheless, most fundraising activities at the festival were successful and well-supported by all visitors.

Optima got involved in one such activity – a charity stall selling delicious goulash and small traditional Christmas Gifts. The stall’s organiser, HCPT Group 72, aimed to attract funding for a week’s holiday at Easter time for a group of disabled and disadvantaged children.



(Above: The team of volunteers at the HCPT stall before and after the festival opened)

HCPT provides respite holidays for these children to the pilgrimage site of Lourdes. Group 72 is a Blackburn-based charity and joins with the hundreds of other groups from all over the world to meet up at Easter. The group takes around 12 children from the local area each year but over 1,300 children in total make the trip to Lourdes from all groups worldwide. Dr Michael Strode first took 5 wheelchair-bound boys to Lourdes back in 1954 – he wanted to give them a happy fun filled holiday. They stayed in Hotel accommodation, rather than in the institutional hospital dormitories. All of the religious aspects of Lourdes were experienced along with a trip to the PyreneanMountains to create for these children a unique experience where faith, great care and a foreign holiday all came together.


(Left: Optima’s Mark Lane preparing surprises for the stall’s visitors)

At the Whalley Pickwick Festival, Optima supported HCPT’s stall in two ways. The company covered the cost of the beef used to prepare the tasty goulash. More important, however, was the wholehearted involvement of Optima’s sales engineer – Mark Lane. Mark, along with his merry group of volunteers helped the stall to sell out and raise more than £300. Mark explained that the activity‘s success exceeded his expectations, given the tough start on that day: “The day started badly with over 80mph gusts of wind threatening to close the event but it did eventually calm down just before we set the stall up. The evening was a great success, with over £300 raised for our charity. On behalf of HCPT, I would sincerely like to thank Optima for their support, family and friends who volunteered on the day and all the members of the general public who bought portions of our 100% British Beef Goulash on the night. We’ll be back again next year!”


Optima Control Solutions Introduces Machine Vision to its Services Portfolio

In March 2013, Optima Control Solutions announced the addition of machine vision to its services. Michael Hill, Managing Director of Optima, explained:

“Broadening our portfolio to include vision is an exciting strategic step for Optima. We forecast strong growth in the adoption of vision technologies as the leading manufacturers continue to introduce new products to the market and meet wider and more demanding applications.

Vision technology offers the obvious advantage of reliability in repetitive manual inspection tasks; the applications skills for vision are complex and highly specialist. By possessing the skills to apply the technology expertly coupled with our acknowledged control system engineering ability means Optima can offer clients a single-source solution provider with an impressive breadth of application knowledge.”

Machine vision utilises high-quality imaging methods and has a broad scope of applications for manufacturers such as defects elimination and assembly verification. Optima has already hired two engineers with 20 years of combined experience in vision solutions.

Mr. Hill commented: “As Optima continues to grow vision will play an integral part in our business development. By opening up new markets with new applications we will strengthen our position in the field of systems integration.”

Read more about our machine vision services here


Outsourcing industrial automation: The essential considerations

Automated control systems are a critical component in the backbone of modern manufacturing. It is virtually impossible to imagine conceiving a manufacturing process without the help of specialized digital control systems. Their subsequent maintenance is even harder to imagine. Today’s plant managers are faced with the dilemma of either hiring in-house engineering resource or outsourcing the service completely. Often a mix of both is considered the ideal solution. Below we suggest several key issues to consider if faced with forming such a strategy.

1. How big is your manufacturing operation? – Hiring full-time in-house engineers can prove costly if they cannot be fully utilised. Often companies find that once a specific project is completed and the system is “bedded in”, the control system reliability improves reducing any ongoing maintenance needs. Outsourcing the control system design and maintenance resource offers the flexibility and on-demand service sought by smaller companies at a more economic cost.

2. Do you require specialised skills and expertise only for a specific project? – As control system technologies evolve, it is necessary to maintain a company’s in-house engineers awareness and skill levels. This must be a considered investment. Extensive training is often needed which attracts additional cost to your company. Outsourced engineers need to stay at the forefront of engineering technologies to ensure their own sustained income and spread the cost annually across multiple projects.

3. How complex is the project and what risk does it carry? – Modern, high-feature control equipment cannot be upgraded using traditional methods. To attempt to do so without the specialist knowledge required may result in higher costs and running over budgeted times. Outsourced system integrators have a wealth of experience providing better guarantees on the methods used to update equipment and thus will lower the overall risk.

4. Health & safety and risk mitigation – Only the control equipment designed to meet a company’s health and safety obligations match the complexity of today’s regulations. The ability to engineer a compliant system is a legal requirement and not to be underestimated.

5. Project time-scales – It goes without saying that control system upgrades require machine downtime to accommodate installation and commissioning activities. Automation companies have the benefit of project teams that can effectively reduce machine downtimes significantly.

6. Collaboration is key – Ideally, as mentioned above, a combination of an internal project engineer or team working closely with the outsourced project design and delivery company works better for a successful delivery and ownership of a project. Making sure both teams cooperate closely and trust each other is essential. Information flow, clarity of objectives and clear design principles are three pre-requisites that will ensure good project management and mutual understanding.

7. Does the integrator understand your business? – A steep learning curve  should be expected at the start of every project for any external engineering team whilst acquiring detailed knowledge of the application. Establishing long standing business relationships, based on performance and trust gained over numerous collaborative projects will promote a better understanding of the clients’ processes for the integrator. This understanding will bring real time and cost savings together with a level of trust that makes working together more natural.

Optima report remarkably low number of breakdown call-outs for 2012

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.