Case Study: Award-Winning PLC Upgrade

I S Systems delivery of a large-scale S5-to-S7 PLC upgrade with no loss of production won us the 2007 Pace Zenith Award

The Goal

The GEMCO manganese processing plant on Groote Eylandt in Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory consisted of 3500 I O distributed in 8 interdependent legacy PLC’s networked around the site. The PLC’s and communication network had become increasingly unreliable with sporadic failures. Spares were no longer available, to the point where the plant would no longer be supportable, even in the short term. Given this, the remote location of the site and the technological advantages that an up-to-date PLC offered, it was decided to replace the PLC’s in their entirety. GEMCO envisaged in their request for tender that the PLC change over would take 4 weeks and planned accordingly, making allowance for the loss of production. 

The Solution

The project presented I S Systems with unique challenges due to the scope and time frame for the replacement. 8 PLC’s and wiring for 3500 IO had to be installed and commissioned in a very short time span. Not only that but the existing SCADA of 7000 tags and 30 individual Citect stations around the plant had to be considered and converted as well. Non time critical aspects of the job such as software engineering and communication networks (which could all be undertaken separately without the plant having to be shut) would have to be guaranteed to be absolutely correct. These difficulties had to be addressed at both an engineering and project management level.

I S Systems completed the site installation testing, site verification and commissioning in 2 normal plant maintenance shutdowns of 24 hours each with the commissioned changeover taking place in just 100 hrs. Plant startup with the new PLC’s was seamless with no loss of production.

Image of a large conveyor leading away from stacker, as an example of MVD applications
Conveyors at the center of the award winning s5 to s7 PLC upgrade

It was a pleasure working with I S Systems on this project and I look forward to working with you again in the future.

Please pass on my thanks to (the team) for their efforts.

Mathew Craig
Electrical Engineer, GEMCO

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