When a local Sydney-based division of Hanson decided to relocate their pre-cast facilities to Mulgrave, they approached us for a potential rewrite of the PLC and SCADA software.
Hanson produces pre-cast wall structures out of concrete by creating the casting forms on big metal plates that get rolled from station to station for all the manual operations required by various personnel.
The plate with the casted products then gets transported in to six level racking systems for final curing.
The reason for Hanson considering a rewrite was that the existing controls and operator interface were cumbersome and unintuitive for operators to use, as well as being quite unreliable and often behaving inconsistently.
For five years since the plant’s inception, operators had complained about the repeated failure of the software control system to perform reliably, forcing them to call in technicians to recover from software “hung” scenarios.
Mostly, personnel had simply resorted to running the system in manual in order to get product out the door. As you well know, manual processes are riddled with OH&S issues and implications.
Later, we also learned that the OEM had spent a period of over two years travelling between their country and the Sydney site again and again to accommodate the shortcomings of the controls. So, needless to say, Hanson was concerned about another would-be “expert” attempting to write new software and promising all the same whistle and bangs.
However, after some persuasion and demonstration of past successes in re-writing software, they gained some confidence in us.
At the end, they ended up spending about $80,000 in total for the software re-write.
Having pre-tested the system in full simulation rigorously in-house (built-in features in our methodology), we ended up spending the 10 working days we estimated for the commissioning. The same mechanical system that once caused so much pain now operated smoothly in its new location.
Is $80,000 expensive in a complete relocation project of well past $2 million?
Compared to what?
This is what the project manager had to say at the completion of the project:
“The software bench testing was a huge benefit and greatly reduced the time in the field. I was very impressed with the results and look forward to working with Torben again in the future.”