In the drive to remain competitive, companies are increasingly looking to bolster process efficiency to improve productivity and, ultimately, their bottom line. Nidec Control Techniques is helping South African companies on this journey, offering high performance drives suitable for a variety of applications.
Recently, Control Techniques’ M400 and M701 drives were used for a new bulk fertilizer material handling facility in the Maydon Wharf precinct in Durban. The end-user, C. Steinweg Bridge, can now operate with less handling and better controls, less degradation of product, and more tons per square metre, offering a superior product to the market and enabling efficiencies for end-users down the line.
The client’s premises in the coastal city of Durban operates custom bonded warehouses, empty and full container yard. At their facility, the company offers handling of bulk agricultural products, break bulk and general cargo, as well as the containerisation of minerals and metals. With years of experience in the industry, the company’s client understands that bulk materials handling can come with a variety of tricks and challenges, depending on the material and its purpose.
The Bridge Port dedicated bulk fertiliser handling facility is a C. Steinweg Bridge facility, offering warehousing and distribution of fertiliser which eventually reaches farmers around the country. However, the facility’s previous handling system was inefficient, and caused product degradation due to high contact of the fertiliser with machinery. This crushed the material, creating fine dust particles which decreased the value of the product while also causing problems for farmers down the line.
After a massive fire in the Durban precinct in 2017, the company decided to rebuild their facility to provide better controls over the end product, aiming to give the client a higher quality product which is more profitable and more beneficial to the end-user.
C. Steinweg Bridge developed a new 60 000 m2 facility, purpose-built to cater for the needs of fertiliser handling, making use of fewer touch points and automation. The new system makes use of tipping points outside the facility. Conveyer belts then carry the material to a height and distribute the material evenly into stockpiles. “This means no machine is required to push the material to create the stockpiles, as was done previously,” explains Roger Hogg, the company’s managing director.
“The use of Nidec Control Techniques equipment has been instrumental in the efficiency of this new facility,” says Hogg. The Unidrive M400 has been used for the motors on the conveyors, crushers and chutes. The drive provides maximum stability and control of induction motors at all powers, improving throughput with advanced open loop motor control algorithms. The drives are rated for heavy duty and boast two Safe Torque Off terminals and an onboard PLC as standard.
The M701 has been applied as the PLC control master, supporting a wide range of feedback technologies and supplying advanced motor control. Additionally, for superior machine control, the MCi210 automation module has been used. This module executes comprehensive programs that can control multiple drives and motors simultaneously across real-time networks. The MCi210 ensures higher performance by delivering two additional Ethernet ports with an internal switch; offering support for standard Ethernet protocols; and a faster exchange thanks to a parallel interface with drive processor.
To automate the system, Nidec Control Technique’s Machine Control Studio was used, offering a flexible and intuitive environment for programming the Unidrive M series’ new automation and motion control features. The programming environment is fully IEC 61131-3 compliant, meaning that it was familiar and therefore fast and easy to use for the facility’s control engineers.
The new C. Steinweg Bridge terminal’s dedicated bulk fertiliser handling facility operates faster, with a higher quality product. This ultimately results in much improved efficiencies for the company, as well as their end users down the line. “Not only does the new facility layout cater for reduced congestion and higher throughput, the technology from Nidec Control Techniques enables us to keep a close eye on our delivery, giving us data on tons per second,” explains Hogg. “We are now achieving more tons per square metre than any other facility known to us, with larger trucks moving more product, faster.”
While the facility has not been operating for long as yet, Hogg and his team look forward to gaining a wealth of data as they move forward. “The SCADA system and data on what, when, and where things are happening at the facility will be instrumental in our business decision-making down the line. The information we gain from this digitalised system will be invaluable to us and our clients from a cost and efficiency perspective," Hogg concludes.
Contact Jacqui Gradwell, Control Techniques, Tel 011 462-1740, firstname.lastname@example.org