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Boulting: built to last

28th November

Boulting Electrical Systems has launched an initiative to find the oldest Boulting Control Panels still in use today. To kick start proceedings we take a look at a system that was originally installed in 1986 and then replaced in 2009.

Boulting began building control panels in the early 1960s and since then the Electrical Systems team have built more than 20,000 - many of which are still in use today.

The Boulting reputation for quality and reliability continues and when a system dating back to 1986 needed upgrading Boulting where the people to do it.

In December 2009 Boulting Electrical Systems were commissioned to upgrade a Batch Control System, originally installed by Boulting Engineers in 1985, at the Alloa glassworks in Scotland - now owned by Owens of Illinois (O-I).

The original batching system

The original system consisted of four Honeywell 620 PLCs, a bespoke batch computer, and a PCIM SCADA. Together these controlled the critical mix of ingredients fed into the furnace and melted at high temperature to make glass.

However, as the system difficult to maintain and support, due to a lack of availability of spare parts, and an upgrade became necessary.

Time for an upgrade

The original batching system was used almost continuously throughout its life. In September 2009 Boulting received the go-ahead to

Time for an upgrade

replace the batch control system with four new Siemens S7 PLCs and a Siemens WinCC SCADA. The new equipment would be fitted into the original panels allowing the existing field cabling to remain undisturbed.

Starting with a detailed survey of the existing equipment, Boulting worked together with the O-I team in order to fully understand the current system. Andy Marshall, Boulting Lead Engineer, commented: "We worked closely with Tom Wilson and his colleagues at O-I, they had a huge amount of experience of how the existing system worked and fitted together".

"The existing batch computer was effectively a black box, we had to recreate its functionality in the new system where it was split between the PLCs and the WinCC Scada. We had to watch the system and ask lots of questions to make sure we understood the current operation so that we could accurately reproduce it in the new system" continued Andy.

Design and Installation

Once the survey was completed a detailed Functional Design Specification covering:

  • All aspects of the existing system
  • Operation of the new system
  • Testing
  • Installation

By late November the new systems were being bench tested in

Design and Installation

the Boulting Stafford office, starting with basic functions and finishing with a complete system test. Tom Wilson and colleagues witnessed the final tests two weeks before Christmas.

Installation commenced fifteen weeks after kick-off and was completed by New Year. Changing one system at a time, existing PLC, IO and IO wiring were removed and pre-wired harnesses from each of the new IO racks were connected to the panel side of the field termination rail. Andy Downs and Ben Moore (Boulting's panel wiring team) did some exceptional work under considerable time pressure

Tom Wilson, Systems Development Engineer at O-I, commented: "We are very happy with the results and the batch plant system is running well. The Boulting team did an excellent job"

Do you have a Boulting system dating back to 1986 or further??? Get in touch and let us know: info@boulting.co.uk


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