Cotton ginning firm invests with APAG

Australia’s largest cotton ginning company has chosen new industry alliance, Atlantic Pacific Automation Group (APAG), to upgrade its safety and motion control systems. Steven Rossito writes.

Namoi Cotton Commodities (NCC), Australia’s largest cotton ginning company, has selected Atlantic Pacific Automation Group (APAG), a first-of-its kind alliance providing safety and motion control solutions, to design, develop and commission a turnkey automation grain handling system.

The APAG strategic alliance involves: CT Oceania (Brisbane), Authorised Australian supplier of the new CTI 2500 Series PLC platform (replacing SIMATIC 505 and SIMATIC 500 TI PLCs); Pilz Safe Automation (Melbourne), the internationally-recognised safe automation technology provider; and Parker Hannifin (Sydney), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of motion and control technologies.

When finished, the grain handling facility will be fully-automated, managing grain distribution to the appropriate storage silos, with an integrated batching process for blending and mixing various grains according to the customer’s requirements. The system will also provide direct loading to bulk haulage for immediate transport.

The project will utilise Parker Hannifin’s XPR web-based HMI panels. All conveyor systems will be controlled by 30 Parker SSD VSD (Variable Speed Drives), and the CTI 2500 Series PLC will be utilised for the process control. Pilz’s PNOZmulti system will provide safety control of plant and equipment. Plant safety was NCC’s primary objective, with the added ability to visualise plant operation and productivity remotely.

The system has been designed and certified to meet Category 4 (in accordance to EN 954-1, AS 4024-1 Standard) for operation and electrical safety to protect plant equipment and personnel.

“APAG’s innovative products and engineering solutions will help improve our plant productivity, providing lower operating costs and minimise plant complexity utilising their automated solution,” said a spokesperson from NCC.

“Incorporating safety into the plant’s design is a step in the right direction for us, as it addresses any potential hazardous or issues up-front so the right equipment can be used to eliminate any impact on productivity and performance. APAG provides an attractive integrated package with on-going support and consultancy services to help us deliver product on time to our customers “

Parker Hannifin’s national electromechanical product sales manager, Ole Halverson, said: “This project provided Parker with a unique challenge and resulted in an innovate solution of truly integrated web enabled HMI’s interfacing directly to the CTI 2500 processors and SSD drives. It’s the first of its kind in Australia.”

According to Pilz managing director, Frank Schrever, the APAG partnership will help market and implement turnkey safety automation and process control systems into the Australian industrial market.

“This strategic partnership provides Pilz a competitive edge, especially with the support of Parker Hannifin, offering engineering expertise spanning nine core technology platforms and over 70 years in the business together with CT Oceania who have built this alliance with their process control expertise and CTI 2500 Series core product offering,” he said.

APAG’s key objective to market is to provide turnkey automation and process control solutions utilising innovative technology, comprehensive services and engineering excellence.

[Steven Rossitto is the APAG business development manager.]