Calling All Coal-Carrying Ships to Port

Transportation infrastructure near coal power plants is vitally important, especially to those that are somewhat geographically isolated. Most cities in Chile are west of the vast Andes mountain range. Chile, unlike Venezuela and other countries in South America, is not a large producer of coal. This means most of its coal has to be imported, making ports essential.

A new coal power plant was built in Chile a few years ago. Before ships carrying coal could be called to port in in the nearby city, a system had to be installed for this purpose from the ground, or sea level up.

The port had the challenge of building a five-conveyor system to transfer coal from the incoming ships over a large swath of ocean.  Each conveyor had either a ControlLogix® or CompactLogix™ PAC with Siemens® drives. Cranes would grab loads of coal off ships and place the coal onto the conveyors.

The challenge: Operate the process as robustly as possible and allow each family of automation equipment to communicate despite being from different vendors.

EISER, the systems integrator, decided to utilize a communication network over fiber optic Ethernet at the PAC level to carry all the process information to the SCADA system. ProSoft Technology’s PROFIBUS modules were chosen as the in-chassis modules used for the respective PACs to communicate with and collect information from the Siemens drives.

This allowed the port to collect information and command the motors that move the conveyor belts in a completely integrated system.

“As a Rockwell Automation® system integrator, we decided to use ProSoft Technology solutions because of the local support in the region, available documentation and good experiences in similar applications we’ve implemented,” an EISER engineer said.

The engineer explained that there weren’t any problems implementing the ProSoft Technology PROFIBUS modules. Installation was simple.

“The technical documentation was accurate,” he said. “Thanks to the simplified configuration of the ProSoft Technology modules using ProSoft Configuration Builder software, the start-up of the PROFIBUS DP network and control system in general was very simple and fast.”

With the addition of the ProSoft Technology PROFIBUS modules, the port has a robust and reliable PROFIBUS communication link between the PACs and the Siemens drives that control each of the conveyors. 

Learn more about ProSoft Technology’s solutions for Rockwell Automation platforms here.