System Integration & Control Systems Design


July 2011 System Integration & Control Systems Design

Overcoming physical distance to implement successful installation.

Despite separation by a distance of over 16 000 km and a time difference of nine hours, Iritron has beaten the odds on a project to provide the electrical, instrumentation and control system design with collaborators Outotec at Oregon Resources Corporation’s (ORC) New Mineral Sands plant near Coos Bay in Oregon, USA.

The new ORC plant in Oregon
The new ORC plant in Oregon

ORC has done extensive exploration in the Coos Bay region since 1989 and found heavy mineral deposits containing chromite, garnet, zircon, ilmenite, magnetite, kyanite and staurolite. The deposits were of such an extent that the decision was taken to build a 1,2 million tpa plant in the region.

Iritron was top of mind for both Outotec and ORC due to the fact that it has successfully completed similar projects in the USA and has an extensive track record in the fields of plant automation, simulation, optimisation and information systems in mineral processing and related industries. “Iritron has an in-depth understanding of the domains and cultures of its clients and has proved its ability to manage projects efficiently while producing high quality results,” says Iritron MD Alwyn Rautenbach.

The initial contract was awarded in 2007, but, due to the economic downturn, was only resuscitated in January 2010. “This delay was our first challenge since we had already purchased some of the equipment and we were forced to keep it in stock during the intervening period,” says Rautenbach.

Iritron was responsible for the supply of the 460 VAC motor control centres (MCCs), schematics, cabling, 3D racking and routing, lighting and small power, instrumentation, control valves, PLC, scada and information systems. The company built all the MCCs and field I/O panels for the project in South Africa: “We sourced the control valves and instrumentation from various other countries and then shipped everything to Oregon,” says Rautenbach. “The instrumentation design was done on Dessoft’s engineering software and based on remote I/O distribution in the field and cabled to I/O collection points in the MCCs.”

A cost-effective PLC/Scada solution was offered that leverages the latest features of Rockwell Automation’s process and bus technology, as well as Wonderware’s InTouch 10.1, Historian 10.0 and Information Server 4.0 software. The PLC hardware comprises an Allen-Bradley ControlLogix Processor with Allen-Bradley FlexLogix remote I/O for the MCC equipment and the field instrumentation. An Allen-Bradley ControlNet network is installed from the ControLogix PLC to the remote I/O panels situated in the mining plant, the wet plant and the dry plant. Communication between the ControlLogix Processor and the scada system is via an industrial Ethernet control network.

The scada system comprises a dual screen InTouch application with two view nodes and an InSQL (Wonderware) plant historian. Wonderware’s Historian provides the required historical logging, trending and reporting functionality. “Its Information Server 4.0 is a Web portal that allows management and other data clients to view the plant mimics remotely and keep an eye on continuously updated production reports. The reports relay real-time and accumulated production throughput and capacity utilisation on a per-shift and daily basis,” explains Rautenbach.

At the specific request of ORC, Iritron’s operations director Andre Roeloffze was appointed as the commissioning manager for the new plant. “Eight Iritron employees were involved in the design and during the commissioning stage, which started in March 2011, we seconded Andre together with two control engineers, two instrumentation engineers and two electrical engineers to the site,” says Rautenbach.

He adds that the Iritron team had to comply with USA standards and regulations, but with their past experience in project completion in the USA this was undertaken easily and successfully.

“For future projects in the US we will negotiate more involvement in the supervision of the construction and installation of the electrical, instrumentation and control systems. We found that skills come at a premium in the States and thus they have fewer people on site and the construction therefore takes longer than we would normally schedule and plan for in South Africa. Despite this minor hiccup, the management of ORC has reported its satisfaction with the work we undertook for them. They have given us the big thumbs up,” concludes Rautenbach.

Iritron’s company profile can be viewed at:

For more information contact Alwyn Rautenbach, Iritron, +27 (0)12 349 2919,,


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