System Integration & Control Systems Design

Saryx helps Transnet achieve ROI through scada modernisation

November 2019 System Integration & Control Systems Design

Saryx Engineering has set the bar high in terms of scada modernisation and standardisation. So much so that the company won ‘Best Control & Information Implementation’ in recognition of a project with client Transnet Freight Rail in Saldanha, earlier this year at the IS3 X-Change Conference.

Left to right: Steven Jeffery (IS3), Roland Verwey (Saryx Engineering), Phillip Nel (Transnet Freight and Rail) and Mandhla Matshazi (IS3) at the awards ceremony.

The task: to replace Transnet’s GE iFix system in parallel with System Platform without introducing downtime or interfering with operational performance.

To put things into perspective, the Saldanha-Sishen Railway is 861 km in length, seeing approximately 38 trains per week. The length of each train is 3,9 km, with 342 wagons, and five to eight locomotives, making them among the longest freight trains in the world.

With the enormity of such a loading operation, one of the main requirements for this project was to achieve zero downtime while the upgrade project took place. In addition, the learning curve from the old system to the new needed to be minimal in terms of operator training.

Key aspects of the project included:

• Move from RS-232 serial technology to Modbus TCP.

• Replace current desktop PC with industrial server technology.

• Move all scada views to terminal server technology.

• Achieve high system availability.

How did System Platform assist?

• Moved to object-based design for standardisation of graphics and tags.

• ISA 95 was implemented to the system which manages the object configuration and alarming resolution.

• Wonderware Insight implementation improved data analysis for engineering staff.

• System Platform is virtual server compliant.

The most significant advantage established from the object-oriented design was that it exposed inconsistent or irregular field values, which varied from site to site. This was very difficult to pick up in the old tag-based system design.

The old system had reached end of life

The old system shared the same computer as the CS90 system. The issue was that the CS90 had the capability to upgrade to a newer Windows version, but the iFix did not. The iFix had operational interference on the CS90 system, and vice versa, because they shared the same client computers with multiple screen cards. In-house support and system knowledge had been lost due to staff retiring.

Saryx installed a temporary Motorola interface to mirror the data to both old and new system. With this, Saryx could compare the old and new status to ensure all signals were correct. The iFix system could now be decommissioned without causing downtime. A rollback option was available if required to minimise operational impact and the operational staff had a sneak preview of the system before it went live. To their surprise, not much had changed in terms of screen navigation. Because of this, the engineering staff developed confidence in the new system while it is working in parallel with the old.

Network design was simple as follows:

• Control network with redundant terminal and data acquisition servers.

• Scada network linked to the terminal client.

• Motorola network separate from the scada network to ensure the least amount of collision domains.

• Insight installed.

• Skelta BPM for automation of data to CASDAM system for Transnet.

• Alarm Advisor which assists the maintenance staff with the alarms.

Prior to the upgrade, the systems had a generator overview, loop status, generator status, and an operator overview. Post upgrade, in addition to the above, a template was used to get standards across all screens in the HMI. The object graphics are embedded instead of redrawn, and grid snapping ensures that all graphics align correctly.

Operators and managers can now interrogate the alarms and events from the scada, while managers have an overview into the system performance. Wonderware Insight gives managers the ability to ‘google’ for the tags they need analytics on, instead of using the filter and navigating options in the query and trend tools. After adding the historians, easy clicks transform how the data is viewed. In addition, the scada now offers ‘Flight of Sight’ graphics, which is important for operational staff.

For more information contact Saryx Engineering Group, 086 099 5105,,


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

SCiBOTRON’s quality culture the key to success
May 2020 , System Integration & Control Systems Design
The company was founded on lean principles and quickly grew into a QSE (Qualifying Small Enterprise). Ricardo Paddy, managing director and founding member, attributes one of the reasons for the company’s ...

Improved production capacity and efficiency
September 2020, Omron Electronics , System Integration & Control Systems Design
BOLÇİ Bolu Chocolate (Bolci) was formed in 1992. It now has over 300 employees and produces over 800 different products. The company produces over 200 tons of chocolate items each month in a factory that ...

PC-based control monitors road tunnel with flexible scalability
September 2020, Beckhoff Automation , System Integration & Control Systems Design
With more than 200 Industrial PCs in operation, the Kaisermühlen Tunnel in Vienna shows that scalable PC-based control technology from Beckhoff is an optimum automation platform in this environment.

EtherCAT I/O for conveyor control
September 2020, Beckhoff Automation , System Integration & Control Systems Design
Integrated compact motor controller reduces cabling effort and increases diagnostic capabilities for roller conveyor systems.

Robots could solve the social distancing problem
September 2020 , System Integration & Control Systems Design
While South Africa has seen a significant uptake in robotic technology, there are signs it will grow in the years to come as businesses make provision for these types of advancements.

Fully automated CIP system upgrade at a food factory
September 2020, Hybrid Automation , System Integration & Control Systems Design
Hybrid automation was recently approached to upgrade the CIP system at a food production plant based on the East Rand of Johannesburg.

Machine upgrade at Rostberg
August 2020, Ana-Digi Systems , System Integration & Control Systems Design
Ana-Digi Systems designs and delivers a state-of-the-art, reliable machine upgrade to match its client’s requirements of easy setup and low maintenance.

HMIs improve operations and maintenance collaboration
June 2020, Emerson Automation Solutions , System Integration & Control Systems Design
It is essential that operators and maintenance engineers work together to resolve issues quickly, before they affect plant performance. However, coordinating actions between these departments can be challenging.  ...

SLE5 series label sensor
June 2020, Turck Banner , System Integration & Control Systems Design
The small infrared light spot of Banner’s new SLE5 can quickly detect the gap between opaque labels on clear or opaque backing. The 5 mm slot width and 50 mm slot depth allow precise detection of a wide ...

Safety starts with people
May 2020, Saryx Engineering Group , IT in Manufacturing
Saryx Engineering’s HSEC Online has always based its business model on the safety of people; putting people first by using innovative technology to track document compliance. Now, as we move into the ...