Published in Glass International 2010
As a supplier of process control solutions, IOM/Eurotherm is well aware of the glass industry's plight resulting from the global economic downturn, particularly, notes René Meuleman*, since the last edition of Glasstec in 2008. With the slow process of recovery underwày, the supplier is prepared for Glasstec 2O1O with its latest developments.
The glass world will meet again at Glasstec 2010 and these last two years were not exactly the ones we expected them to be in 2008. Shortly after the show, the global economy went down and perhaps the only positive thought was that glass was not the only industry that suffered.
As a glass solutions provider, IOM/Eurotherm, experienced the same effects of the economical downturn. Having recognised the situation early, it continued to support its customers, while looking to the future by developing new ideas.
As we head for Glasstec 2010, it seems that business is starting to come back. During the last Magdeburg symposium, some of the speakers mentioned the need for the glass industry to save energy by 2oo/o in the next 10 years. This may be a harsh reality for the glass industry, as oil prices are likely to rise as soon as the economy has started to recover. The oil disaster, which took place near US shores, will no doubt adversely affect global oil pricing and energy saving politics.
EPower, the SCR controller line that IOM/Eurotherm introduced at Glasstec 2008, has been well-received by its glass customers, its predictive load management function benefitting many applications.
The company has improved the system by adding new power control strategies to the controller. It is now capable of controlling power in a four taps dynamic load tap changing mode, as weli in phase angle mode as in burst firing mode. At Glasstec 2010 the supplier will display the full EPower range at its stand. Visitors will be able to experirnent with 'ioad tap changing' and find out the benefits of this kind of power control.
Over the last two years, the company has also installed a number of Foxboro PAC process control systems. The product is different from PLC-based process control systems as it ls a fullblown distributed control system.
One of the latest installations for a container glass furnace and forehearth system involves 22 redundant central processing units (CPUs) and all the layers in the system are fault-tolerant down to the input/output modules. This gives a high ievel of granularity in a fulty transparent programming environment. The 22 CPUs are bound together in one environment, communicating peer-to-peer to keep network load low and ensure an extremely low failure rate. Each CPU is able to 'store and forward' important process data at its own standalone level.
This function was developed to comply with the strict pharmaceutical regulations, 21 CRF part 11. It enables the distributed control system, in case of communication or data server problems, to store important process data at the basic input/output rack level. As soon as the data server functionality returns, the stored data is forwarded, therefore invaluable data such as CO, and NOx trading figures are not lost.
IOM/Eurotherm now introduces its latest Foxboro PAC process control hardware platform, which maximises input/output density and has increased memory and CPU capacity.
Based on this hardware, further complex control strategies can be implemented at an overall reduced system footprint. This improved platform opens up possibilities to implement furnace reversal, as well as furnace temperature and forehearth control strategies.
Based on its Connoisseur MPC (model-based control) software, IOM/Eurotherm can now provide automatic furnace and forehearth control with the Foxboro PAC system. This software comes with fuzzy logic and neural network capabilities, which renders it suitable for glass furnace and forehearth control. Connoisseur ensures tighter control, improving quality by reducing the standard deviation of key process parameters and providing a more stable process which, in turn, relates to higher efficiency.
Corporate energy management
To help glass plants make the most of incoming energy streams and operate with maximum efficiency, IOM/Eurotherm has developed a tool to achieve these energy efficiency targets. CEM (corporate energy management) refers to sets of actions that move accountability for energv outcomes to upper levels of the company. In fact, CEM programmes are designed to involve a variety of areas within the business, such as accounting, marketing and other departments that are not traditionally associated with energy. By bringing corporate-level attention and management into the picture, glass companies can ensure that wider opportunites are explored.
Glasstec 2008 perhaps revealed the first signs that the glass manufacturing industry would have to change. At the time, not many of us could foresee the severity of the economic downturn that lay ahead of us. We hope that Glasstec 2010 may represent a turning point and an indication that the glass industry should be confident in its future. However, things can never be the same and new challenges are to be faced.
According to Porter, "there are no low-tech industries, only low-tech firms". With this in mind, IOM/Eurotherm will continue striving to develop better solutions for the glass industry.
*René Meuleman, Global Glass Industry Technical
Leader, Eurotherm, The Nethertands.