What is the Real Cost of a Process Controller?

Advice on what to look for when buying products for Temperature Control

The purchase price is only a small part of the cost of owning and maintaining a temperature / process controller.

In today's highly competitive business economy, manufacturers must find production solutions that maximise the operational efficiency of their people, their processes and their applications.

How can you effectively compete if your process equipment is too time consuming, or too complex?

How can you simplify local control applications, speed up implementation and configuration, and minimize the time your staff spends on maintaining your process equipment?

These challenges apply just as much to control system components as to large enterprise-wide solutions.

Eurotherm knows the not-so-visible costs associated with owning process controllers, and Eurotherm temperature / process controllers are designed specifically to save time and money. They get right to the heart of the matter by simplifying the operator interface, simplifying the configuration, increasing diagnostics and providing operator features such as text messaging. They do this through a number of unique,specially developed features.

Saving Time With Quick Codes

When a Eurotherm controller is switched on for the first time, it will start up in ‘Quick Configuration Mode’. This time-saving approach allows you to enter a unique 'quick code' which will enable you to accurately specify every operational parameter, including input sensors, temperature range, control characteristics, output signals, alarms, etc. This not only allows you to configure the controller to match the process in record time, but also to change its functionality by simply entering a new code when a change is required. In a typical application where 5 or 6 controllers are used per machine,and there are several machines, the time (and $) savings could be considerable.

This advanced feature can greatly reduce the need for technical support. With a traditional typeof controller, if a user wants to change the sensor type on a controller in his plant, he calls his tech support person. Sometimes, the technical person needs to call the controller manufacturer for assistance. They walk him through the menu structure attempting to determine how the controller is configured and how the user wants it configured. He then needs to be told how to make the necessary changes. With quick codes, the user only needs to look up the code for that sensor and change the code. If he does decide to call tech support, they can give him the code in 10 seconds rather than walk him through the menu structure.

Consider these familiar scenarios ...

  • What is the real time taken to configure new instruments within your process? How much effort does it really take to get a new controller operating correctly?
  • What happens when a fault occurs? When a controller needs to be replaced, what level of effort is required to reproduce the configuration? And have you noticed that this type of problem usually occurs on the third shift? What is the true cost in terms of down time, personnel time and dollars while you are configuring a replacement?

If, for example, you have controllers with 5 different configurations in your plant, how much money can be saved by having one spare and a list of quick codes for each instrument configuration, against keeping 5 spare controllers on the shelf?

Making Life Simpler With Text Scrolling

The unique scrolling text display of Eurotherm control products is another clear cost reducer. It provides operators with a clear, fully customizable 'message center', which shows the exact name and function of any parameter being set in plain language, making an instant saving on commissioning time. The built-in 'Auto-Help' facility associated with every parameter means that a printed manual is simply not required. Just scroll down to any parameter and wait for a few seconds, and the description of that parameter will scroll across the display in the language of choice. Four different easily downloadable language drivers, for English, French, German or Italian make these controllers suitable for use in almost any part of the world.

Simplifying the way information is displayed and amended is a key to operator efficiency. For instance:

  • If the user needs to change the value of say Alarm 1 in a conventional controller he must find this parameter in a list of abbreviations. For example, Alarm 1 may be noted as “al 1”. With a Eurotherm controller, he can simply scroll down the parameter list The controller will tell him/her, in plain text, when he reaches Alarm 1 set point.
  • Each alarm can display a description of what the alarm is, such as 'Over Temperature', inplace of 'Alarm 1'. This communication between the controller and the operator will make the job easier – and quicker.
  • In the same way, the display can be used as a real-time Human Machine Interface (HMI),presenting information and allowing a response. For instance, a process contact input could signal an operator that something has happened within the process, in plain language.

Communications and Networks

Eurotherm controllers feature a digital (Ethernet) communications capability as a standard option which allows connection to other Eurotherm products, supervisory PCs, PLCs, remote networks or Internet links. These instruments can therefore communicate fully within plant- and enterprise-wide information systems.

Summary

Although Eurotherm controllers use the latest in control and display technology it strongest value point is it’s the low cost of ownership. These controllers are:

  • Easy to configure with quick codes
  • Easy to operate
  • Easy to maintain
  • Display can be used as an HMI
  • Communications functions built-In
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