PLCs, DCSs & Controllers


MCCs for local and international markets

November 2023 PLCs, DCSs & Controllers

With a history of delivering large engineering projects globally, Iritron has over 20 years’ experience in designing motor control centres (MCCs) built to the highest international specifications. Iritron CEO, Alwyn Rautenbach explains that the company is driven by quality standards, and has ISO 9001:2015 quality management system accreditation. Its concern for the wellbeing of the environment and its staff, customers and contractors is borne out by its ISO 14001: 2015 and

ISO 45001:2018 accreditation. The company’s panels also carry the SABS mark. “We always engineer solutions that contribute to the effectiveness of operations according to the client’s specifications. Return on investment needs to be justified, and this is where Iritron excels,” he says.

As members of the Electrical Switchgear Association of South Africa (ESASA), Iritron is a custom panel and MCC manufacturer, with a manufacturing facility in Gauteng. As a level 7 Engineering and Procurement (EP) with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDP), it also provides construction installation management. “While our professionalism and quality compliance allow us to execute faceted projects successfully, nothing beats word of mouth,” continues Rautenbach. Internationally, the company has completed a number of complex control and automation projects that include the design and manufacture of custom panels and MCCs. They include the following notable projects.

Multi-million rand cross-border project

Iritron recently completed an expansion project for a manganese mine in Gabon. The mine is the world’s second largest high-grade manganese producer. Iritron has a history of delivering large engineering projects globally, and this project is no different. The company has more than 20 years’ experience in the manganese mining market, having started in South Africa and expanded into the rest of Africa and abroad.

Designed by a global multidisciplinary EPCM consultancy, the project tasked Iritron with delivering a solution that comprised multiple engineering disciplines with tight deadlines. Electrical MCCs, a control system, CCTV and network cabinets formed part of the delivery. The project was awarded to Iritron because of its proven engineering expertise and experience in this type of delivery.

“A project of this magnitude included some unique challenges. The company was impacted by worldwide semiconductor shortages that created logistical challenges due to supply chain disruptions and capacity shortages. The ongoing pandemic and port congestion did not alleviate the problem either. This required the Iritron team to turn its operations ‘upside down’ to keep to timelines,” he explains. This meant that the team started work on the MCCs in reverse – activities usually scheduled for the end of a build were completed first.

“This was a testament to the ingenuity of the engineering team, as no time was wasted waiting for equipment to arrive. The team got ahead as a result of its technical expertise and proven design methodologies, to ultimately reduce the overall project risks posed by the supply chain bottleneck. Iritron successfully delivered the project on time and within budget, and in the process secured additional larger projects.

Make-over for packaged goods plant

The estimated R7,5 million project for a major South African packaged goods company required refurbishing and upgrading a plant with the latest optimised control systems. The scope of work revolved around replacing the PLCs in 11 wheat mills with one Siemens S7-1500 PLC. The PLC panels were replaced by remote I/O panels. The old PLC programs were reverse-engineered and reprogrammed into the new Siemens PLC.

The plant comprised more than 4000 instruments that were all connected to the control system. Iritron was responsible for replacing all the panels, switchgear and PLCs connecting to the original scada system. New communication cables and power cables were supplied and installed.

Redundant PLCs and other equipment were replaced with modern equipment, ensuring a modern plant control system with available spares. This new equipment will reduce unplanned downtime due to control equipment failure, thus increasing plant reliability and throughput. It will also ensure a reduction over the long term in control equipment, potential points of failure, and maintenance.

For example, new technology was implemented in the roller mill electrical works, with a new MCC, which was designed, manufactured, fitted, supplied and installed by Iritron. The MCC was equipped with switchgear and free issue OEM-supplied variable speed drives (VSDs) from the automation company, ABB. It was equipped with 45&bsp;direct online starters and 26 VSD starters.


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