System Integration & Control Systems Design

Cube Technologies assists with boiler control

December 2011 System Integration & Control Systems Design

A successful Cube Technologies Australian project is now a client reference site.

Australian Country Choice (ACC) is a vertically integrated supply chain organisation dedicated to the supply of high quality beef and veal products to Coles Supermarkets and other export customers, and maintains a ‘plate to paddock’ philosophy. ACC’s central processing facility is located in Brisbane and incorporates beef and veal primary processing, further processing and retail ready meat packaging operations for delivery of shelf ready fresh meat products. Weekly production capacities include the processing of 5000 yearling, veal and Certified Organic beef carcasses.

In September 2010 ACC approached Cube Technologies to assist with the problems being experienced with the Bailey Network90 system which controls the boilers in the plant. Issues raised were the unacceptable failure of the system and the loss of I/O cards for the control system on the plant’s two fluidised bed boilers, refrigeration plant and coal conveying system.

“Cube Technologies was selected due to its extensive experience in boiler control systems. ACC’s original requirement was for the possible repair of the Bailey system. However, we determined that the resultant additional cost to ACC for running on diesel for 26 weeks would have been $2,34 million (R18,8 million). In consultation with ACC we agreed that they required a state-of-the-art process control automation,” says Dirk Swart, general manager at Cube Technologies in Australia.

The client’s original intention was the simplification of its existing control strategy without compromising performance and functionality. This entailed allowing operators to easily view and control the boilers, coal conveying, hot water and refrigeration operations; and to have fully integrated alarm management and trend displays. In addition it had to make all known faults and waiting times visible to operator and reduce the fault finding time.

“In the initial discussion stages we needed to convince management that the replacement of the old system was necessary from both a time and cost saving perspective in the short and long term,” says Swart. “In addition, decisions between the choice of a PLC or DCS as the control system were debated but because of the cost implications we agreed on the implementation of a Siemens PCS7 distributed control system,” says Swart.

Cube Technologies project managed the new system and was responsible for the detailed design (in collaboration with ACC on site), drawings, panel manufacturing, commissioning (via Pac Technologies) and commissioning. “The project was quite challenging in terms of the lack of documentation. We were therefore forced to extract and interrogate the Bailey programs from the existing controllers. In addition, we had to physically trace all existing field wiring by hand,” Swart explains.

Cube Technologies overcame communications issues by setting specific goals at the outset and holding weekly progress meetings and project schedule updates with ACC. “We issued monthly reports to manage and control cost variations. All software and procedures were tested via simulation before implementing and all plant operators were trained to ensure their thorough familiarity with this completely new system,” says Swart.

Future plans for the boiler plant automation upgrade include automation of the steam delivery control; investigation of hot water rendering return storage; investigation of turning excess energy into usable electricity; optimising coal combustion; investigation of steam and water wastage; and investigation of diesel usage and losses.

The project was delivered on schedule (six months from conception to commissioning) and on budget, without a major commissioning shutdown or impact on existing operations. “ACC says that this is the best major project implemented by any external company they have experienced. Due to its successful implementation, the ACC project has been opened as a reference site to potential Cube clients on many occasions,” Swart concludes.

For more information contact Vinesh Maharaj, Cube Technologies, +27 (0)31 764 6081,,

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