Inductive Automation
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News / March 01, 2007

Integrator Highlight: Industrial Control Integration

Industrial Control Integration is a full service integration house in Orange, CA that specializes in process controls for the food processing industry. In this issue we interview owner Jeff Taylor about his first experience with Inductive Automation products.

IA: What does Industrial Control Integration offer?

Jeff: PLC programming, HMI programming, control system design, electrical installation, and equipment troubleshooting. My company is based on reputation and taking care of the customer. The relationship doesn't end when the contract is complete; customer service is vital. I'm able to focus on smaller jobs and deliver a good product for any size project.

IA: Please describe your first project with the Inductive Automation software.

Jeff: My first project was to retrofit a refrigeration control system for Del Real foods in Mira Loma, CA. They are a food processor specializing in Mexican food that has cold storage rooms, processing rooms, and shipping and receiving docks, all of which need to maintain specific temperatures. The system is a PLC based control that monitors and controls room temperatures, handles defrost cycles for the air coil units in each room, controls building ventilation and monitors the ammonia refrigerant equipment in the engine room. The job was to replace a competitors HMI package.

IA: What made Del Real decide to replace their existing HMI?

Jeff: They are expanding their production capabilities. They also wanted better access to their data. The licensing structure of their existing package was cost prohibitive to get the system to do what they wanted. The bottom line was that it got really expensive way too quickly.

IA: What specific goals did Del Real have in terms of data access?

Jeff: The first was being able to get to their data without paying additional license fees. Different departments from within their company needed access to historical temperature data for reporting and troubleshooting purposes. Their QA department needs access to historical temperature data for reporting to government agencies. Their maintenance department needs access to historical data on the various equipment for maintenance, troubleshooting and failure analysis. Further out, they are looking to tie in their production machinery and actual production data into the system.

Their existing HMI had some trending capabilities, but couldn't get the data out to spreadsheets or SQL databases without additional licensing.

IA: Have you been able to satisfy your customer’s data access requirements?

Jeff: At this point, yes. They're now able to access their data history, both temperatures and equipment downtime, from anywhere within the organization. Maintenance has better tools to analyze historical data on the machinery, allowing them to quickly find the root of the problem. QA can now access the data as far back as they need to, from any computer. I think as they see the power of this package, their requirements are going to expand even further. I feel extremely confident that I will be able to deliver solid solutions with your software suite.

IA: What's next for Del Real?

Jeff: I see the FactoryPMI Reporting Plugin as the next phase of this project. The first phase was to functionally have the package working like the existing HMI. With the reporting Plugin I will help the QA department get to their data and create and structure their reports. I think the email notification capability within FactorySQL will be expanded as well. After that, they are looking at monitoring and data logging at some of their remote facilities on their retail side.

IA: How did you find IA?

Jeff: The customer asked their IT department and me to investigate alternative HMI options. One of their IT guys found you on the Internet and asked me to evaluate FactorySQL and FactoryPMI.

IA: What was your experience like getting started with FactorySQL and FactoryPMI?

Jeff: Surprising right out of the gate. I called and immediately reached a human being. I wasn't sure who I needed to talk to, so I was put in touch with Travis from tech support. I gave him a quick overview of what I was trying to achieve. His response was very positive. I expected a 10 minutes overview of the software, then putting me in contact with a salesman - that seems to be everyone else's standard. Instead he spent the next 3 1/2 hours walking me through the system. His enthusiasm for and knowledge of the products were readily apparent. At that point, even without having any hands on experience with the software, I decided to sign on as an integrator.

IA: How would you describe the learning curve with FSQL/PMI?

Jeff: Initially it was steep. I was somewhat intimidated. However, the IA team was always a phone call away and always took the time to get me through the learning process, helping with specific tasks that I needed to do. Knowing now that you were going through a major version upgrade leaves me even more impressed. I never felt that any of the guys in tech support were just trying to get me taken care of and out of their hair. It was apparent that they wanted to make sure that I understood the technical issue before letting me go.

IA: What do you think about the SQL database centric model?

Jeff: Well, there was the wheel, sliced bread, and then this. It allows so much flexibility - and I don't even know all the intricacies. The more I've learned about the software the more I see in terms of capability. This is where everyone else wants to be. I haven't seen any false claims or vaporware. This actually works!

IA: What about the web deployed model?

Jeff: I think it's great! We're no longer tied to one machine in a room somewhere. It's really handy for remote support and remote monitoring. The maintenance guy is extremely happy that he can look at the system from home and determine the nature of the problem. After receiving an alarm he can more accurately assess the problem, and in a quicker timeframe. This is especially true on weekends.

IA: Do you have any other plans with IA software?

Jeff: This will be my first choice for any complete control system that I install. I plan on showing this to customers as a way to collect the data and better monitoring and control of their remote facilities. This fits perfectly as an economical solution for smaller processes that can still benefit from a full scale SCADA system, all with complete confidence that it's going to work. The database centric model is somewhat new to me - I wish this would have been around 10 years ago.

IA: Is there anything else you would like to say regarding your experience with IA software?

Jeff: The way you guys take care of integrators is phenomenal. I look forward to working with you in the future.