When machinery runs out of sync, there are consequences. Similar to slipped transmission in a motor vehicle, a disharmonious production line can burden the system and reduce productivity. This is why system integration is important to processing facilities, such as food processing plants. Speed and efficiency are prized, so you need system integration to streamline processes and get your machinery working together as an assembly line.
What is System Integration?
First off, let’s discuss the basics of system integration. From an engineering standpoint, system integration is the process of bringing together subsystems, such as separate machinery, and making each subsystem work in harmony as a single unit. The end result is cohesive automation that can handle a number of tasks seamlessly.
About Industrial Control System Integration
System integration can be used in a number of applications, including Information Technology (IT) and alongside the Internet of Things (IoT). However, what is most important for industrial businesses, including pharmaceutical and food production, is system integration that allows for control of a system, as well as processing and monitoring capabilities.
A well-known example of system integration is SCADA, or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. SCADA enables companies to monitor and control a variety of processes both locally and remotely.
In order for system integration to be successful, electrical control panels equipped with components like PLCs have to be implemented within the facility.
Types of System Integration
There are many ways to achieve system integration, depending on your industry and desired outcomes. That said, if you have machinery that needs to work in unison, then you would benefit from system integration.
Here are some of the most common methods of system integration:
- HMI & SCADA Integration
- Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)
- Automation Components
- Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)
Let’s look at each of these types in more detail.
HMI & SCADA Integration
Operators are needed to monitor the automation systems, but they should also be able to interact with the system without needing extensive engineering knowledge. This is where HMIs, or Human-Machine Interfaces, come into play. HMIs are a programmable monitor that allows operators to interact with input devices, such as PLCs, and other machinery.
Through SCADA integration, users gain access to trends, reports, analyses, and alarms. Need a customized solution for your business? EZSoft can create specialized computer software packages to suit your needs.
You can consider the PLC, or a programmable logic controller, the brains behind the operation. PLCs are designed to communicate with sensors and equipment, process information, and then provides an output based on how it was programmed. The output then controls automated actions along the production line.
Consider an analog pressure sensor in an air supply line. The sensor will send a signal to the PLC, which is then interpreted by the PLC. The PLC has been programmed to convert the signal into a pressure reading, which it then compares to the minimum set pressure. If the pressure reading is lower than what the PLC knows to be the minimum, it will automatically turn on a pump.
In the food industry, PLCs can be used for checking the quality of cookies, for instance, against reference photos. They can also be used to control humidity levels, batch oven temperature, automatic filling systems, packaging and labeling, and much more.
Do you want to automate certain elements of machinery, such as the start/stop operations and motor speed? That can be done by installing a customizable control panel. These panels communicate with PLCs and SCADA systems, as well.
Automation components may also include safety and feedback sensors, such as:
- Sensors, operator buttons, switches, and input devices that inform a PLC on the positioning and status of equipment
- Fencing, gates, emergency stop buttons, light curtains, and other safety implements that exist to keep individuals safe in the work area
- Lights, displays, valves, motors, actuators, and similar output devices
Within an automation line, there are a variety of components that have to either be installed or configured (or reconfigured). There are many instances where sensors and machinery come from multiple manufacturers and need to be synchronized. Electrical engineers can assist, as well as custom-built control panels, like those from EZSoft.
Although these are most commonly found in water pump systems, VFDs are excellent for monitoring things like pressure and maintaining the optimal functioning of various systems. For example, VFDs reduce the wear and tear on machinery, thereby reducing maintenance costs.
The Benefits of System Integration For Your Business
As you may have already guessed from how system integration works, there are benefits to the overall workflow within your business. System integration brings harmonic operation to manufacturing and production systems, resulting in higher efficiency and productivity.
By allowing your machinery to communicate, you can also navigate issues that arise more deftly. Using a PLC system increases visibility and traceability within your business—from the beginning of the process to storage and beyond—and it makes it easier for operators to do their job. Similarly, because operators can work remotely, there are less liabilities within the facility.
So if you have been wondering about why system integration is important for your business, you now know the answer: You can exponentially increase product output, increase quality control, and get products to your sellers or consumers faster, because you face less issues overall.
Get Quality System Integration From EZSoft
By implementing PLCs, HMI, and SCADA system integration within your business, you can truly optimize your operations. If you want to maximize efficiency and outstrip the competition, you need to consider system integration and automation. EZSoft can help. We assist our customers by automating their facilities with customizable integrated solutions.
If you would like to learn more about what we do, give us a call at (484) 568-5040 or fill out the contact form.