System Integration & Control Systems Design


Rockwell Automation's optimised compressor solution

July 2011 System Integration & Control Systems Design

Rockwell Automation won the tender to upgrade the compressor systems at Harmony Gold Mining’s (Harmony) number 7 and 8 shafts in Evander in mid-2010. The upgrade was the result of the mine’s optimisation strategy and its drive to do so in the most energy-efficient way possible.

According to Riccardo Fachin, Rockwell Automation’s systems and solutions business project manager, saving energy with compressors is not an often utilised solution in industry and this was a unique opportunity to showcase its possibilities. “We held discussions with Harmony’s electrical personnel on what extra equipment should be installed with a view to measuring and reporting energy usage and eventually, savings,” he explains.

The number 1 compressor, a 1987 Demag VK 32C with a discharge pressure of 6,7 bar and an inlet of 35 000 cubic metres per hour and synchronous motor (2900 kW 6,6 kV), needed an upgrade on the electrical MV switchgear as well as the control system. “The mechanical upgrade consisted essentially of new electrically controlled inlet and outlet vane valves for surge control. The electrical upgrade consisted of new 6,6 kV switchgear, while we re-used the oil cooled reactor starter,” says Fachin.

“Automatic solid-state DC excitation was accomplished on the existing synchronous motor with the use of a DC control and power monitoring system from Rockwell Automation, a system that proved its reliability when the power factor was held at unity under all load conditions. However, the real test was not only to prove energy saving, but also provide an accurate model of the much needed surge control when there was no information available on the existing system.”

Rockwell Automation engineers installed a new Allen-Bradley ControlLogix PAC complete with GEM standard ICS-Triplex compressor control software into the new MCC ready for connection to the instrumentation. The compressor control software allowed engineers to calculate and implement the most appropriate surge control for the number 1 compressor, and also two of the others. Control of the inlet vane through the surge algorithm provided a considerable saving of energy.

To collect all relevant information such as pressure, temperature, power factor, power usage, airflow, trips and alarms, the FactoryTalk View scada system was installed. During the first month of operation, the energy saving from compressor number 1 was significant and Harmony was particularly impressed with the newly installed control software.

“Plans are afoot to upgrade other compressors working on the same manifold,” says Fachin. “The ICS-Triplex software and Allen-Bradley ControlLogix will allow for proper load sharing and shifting between compressors, allowing even more substantial energy saving in the future.”

For more information contact Tommy Maritz, Rockwell Automation, +27 (0)11 654 9700, tmaritz@ra.rockwell.com, www.rockwellautomation.co.za



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