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Process Control Systems

What Is a Process Control System?

At Bay State Scale & Systems, Inc. a “system” is any product that goes out our doors that includes more than just the scale itself. Usually there is peripheral equipment involved such as printers, scanners, or keyboards. Sometimes the system involves a weighing or counting indicator with special programming to perform a specific function. In every case the idea is to provide functionality that gives the customer a more complete solution than a simple scale alone.

How Does The System Get Specified?
Usually we meet with the customer to discuss his/her particular situation. Then we detail a solution in proposal form and “fine tune” it prior to the customer signing off. We strongly suggest that the people who will be using the new system be involved prior to implementation.

There are several reasons for this. Often these users give valuable feedback as to why the system will not work as presently specified, or give feedback as to how better to accomplish management’s requirements. Sometimes they don’t buy into the changes either because they see it as more work or they are afraid of job security.

It is best that management understand these obstacles prior to implementation and deal with them as early as possible. I remember one system we assembled in which more effort was required of a specific worker to attain the necessary results, but several other workers’ lives were made much easier. We came up with a way that the other more fortunate workers would help the unlucky one, so that there would be a net gain for everyone involved. Without management taking this initiative, the one overworked person would have doomed the new system.

How Does A New System Get Implemented?
Once the system gets specified we purchase the components, interface the components, write any custom application, and test it in our facility with are own employees. This way we try to find, before installation, any weaknesses or deficiencies. We purposely try to think of ways a user might misuse the system to make sure that they are dealt with appropriately. If the system is complex, we might set up a prototype so that the customer can get the feel of it and critique it prior to final installation. We want to know that once it is installed, it will work as intended.

What Credentials Does Bay State Scale Have So That Their Customers Know That They Can Do A Competent Job?
We have staff that has been to various training sessions held be the manufacturers we represent. We have personnel who have passed advance training at GSE on programming their 60 series indicators macro language. These indicators can support databases, inputs, outputs, analog outputs, device net, profibus, operator prompting, timers, set points, vibratory feeders, proximity sensors, variable print formats, can interpret serial inputs, have various built-in parameters such as peek gross or net, rate of fall, rate of flow, average piece weight, and variables that can programmed for almost anything you can imagine.

The GSE macro language supports nested if, then, else loops so we can do some really sophisticated things. We also are fluent in Setra’s SDL (Setra Dialog Language). “Another Counting Example” application, Although not as powerful as GSE’s 60 series macro language, Setra’s SDL does excel at writing simple applications on the fly to prompt an operator through a sequence of steps. Look below at some of the applications we have solved. You might get some ideas for your own weighing needs.

Here are some areas where systems can help you. Contact us about your application needs. Contact Us or call 1-800-696-8282 then press 1.

Print some information on a printer. Most indicators today can print gross, tare (container weight), net, time, and date. Many can print one or more ID fields. More sophisticated units can print bar codes, and give us the capability to add control codes that a printer might need to print different font sizes or to feed a certain amount of paper through. Most GSE indicators can be fit with a keyboard adapter so that a normal computer keyboard can be used to enter ID fields.

The Setra Super II has a keyboard port for this purpose. Both Setras and GSEs have the ability to prompt the operator for ID information. The GSEs are particularly good at displaying lots of information or providing detailed prompts. Some GSE units have 40 column X 16 row displays for this purpose. Examples below show screen shots of these displays. Printers can be of several different types.

Batching. This can be an off-the-shelf indicator. The operator presses a button and the unit might “TARE,” energize a relay, and shutoff just under the set point. Then the system waits until the operator presses “TARE” again. Why does it shut off under the set point? This is because there is typically material in transition. For example, when you turn off the water in your sink, the valve in the faucet closes, but there is water in the faucet as well as water falling from the faucet into the sink.

If we did not account for this additional water, then our controller would shut off too late and too much material would be batched. This extra material is called “preact”. Many of our controllers make automatic adjustments for preact from cycle to cycle. We would do a custom program in applications where the system cannot start until an input is “made” such as when an eye that shows that the container is in place, or where a mixer has to come on at a prescribed time and/or weight.

One system had the requirement of cycling a mixer at prescribed time intervals for a give period of time, day and night. This is easy to do with the more advanced GSE indicators. Databases can be used to save weigh data, to retrieve set point data, and to store recipes.

Data Acquisition. This involves saving data to a database. Many of our weight indicators support multiple databases. If you are currently hand writing weights with perhaps time and date, and identification, a database can help by storing the transactions without hard to read handwriting or transcription errors. The macro program forces the operator to enter the correct information, might verify it against acceptable alternatives, and then saves it. We can do reports straight from the indicator or send the data in an ASCII delimited text file format to your computer. We can even fill spreadsheets directly. See the “truck scale program” for more information.

Counting. Systems here often involve average piece weight retrieval. Sometimes we pull information from a database built into the scale. Other times we use labels that have the average piece weight, as well as ID information, perhaps tare weight and time and date.

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