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Automated hydraulics for machine builder

25th August 2016

Posted By Paul Boughton


Case study examines the highly regulated nature of the aerospace industry and the importance of flexible and secure data handling for the sector

Traceability, data logging and graphical displays are in high demand in the modern hydraulics environment. As customers’ requirements become more complex, the hydraulic control experts at machine builder Pressure Design focus on increasing their automated solutions offering, with the support of COPA-DATA’s HMI/SCADA software, zenon.

Pressure Design offer a bespoke, fully inclusive service, satisfying all fluid power requirements, from the factory floor to the HMI. The company serves the hydraulic requirements of a wide range of primary and secondary manufacturing facilities. As manufacturers have begun to adjust in order to meet today’s highly automated, intelligent and connected landscape, the requirements of hydraulic projects are changing.

Reaching new heights for aerospace

Pressure Design’s initial full HMI/SCADA project was undertaken on behalf of a customer who supplies fundamental parts to the aerospace industry.

In the highly regulated and data-heavy aerospace industry, it’s a requirement that parts manufactured for use in aerospace applications have an accurate production data trail and an easily accessible data archive in case of product failure.

Compatible and adaptable

Pressure Design was originally commissioned to fix a small fault on the ring mill for the aerospace manufacturer. As the ring mill had no previous data management system, the hydraulics specialist suggested adding a computer to the network to record and store production data in a more efficient way.

The customer needed a company-wide solution to its data handling issues and, although HMI/SCADA software was the obvious answer, finding a fully flexible software solution compatible with the company’s infrastructure and varying models of PLCs was no simple task.

Formerly, the HMI software or basic controls in place varied as the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) often provided a basic propriety solution, with limited functionality. zenon has more than 300 native drivers and communication protocols and thus, its hardware independency meant the solution is fully compatible with the existing PLCs on site.

Pressure Design set out to provide a simple way to accurately record data and to keep this data securely on file for upwards of ten years. Adding value and functionality to existing and new infrastructure, zenon played a crucial role in providing this complete solution to the customer.

Bespoke features

zenon’s advanced visualization capabilities proved very usual for Pressure Design when getting hydraulic projects commissioned, especially when it comes to off-site fault finding. zenon provides the complete status of a particular piece of equipment and can pinpoint and identify prospective problems that may occur.

zenon’s chronological events list (CEL) has proved to be more than just a safety feature for Pressure Design. Generally, the CEL allows operators to log on and see who has done what, when and where, providing a reliable trail of investigation, should a problem be encountered on the factory floor.

For testing, this feature not only highlights the cause of the problem, but also enables the end customers to find out why a problem has occurred and rectify the issue more quickly and efficiently. 

Saving money, saving time

Since collaborating with COPA-DATA, Pressure Design has reaped the rewards of a more knowledgeable workforce. Prior to working with zenon, James Penty, a Pressure Design Engineer, had limited experience in automation, with zenon this is not a problem.

“If anything, my confidence with zenon is a testament to its usability,” explained Penty, who attended a zenon training course and has since received a personal certification of completion. “The beauty of zenon is that even with limited programming experience and just three days of basic zenon training, I have been able to complete full-scale projects confidently.

“I’ve been impressed with the simple format of zenon, particularly the ability to view archives, display graphs and whole trends, all by using tick boxes. zenon installation has proved to be a quick and simple procedure, ultimately, saving time for ourselves and money for our customers.”







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