Erema was also quick to recognise the growing importance of the digitalisation trend of the past few years. One of the partners it works closely with is Copa-Data, an independent software provider founded in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria that has developed a software platform known as zenon. This software was deployed on the Erema recycling machines with the aim of boosting efficiency in engineering and operations through data visualisation and visual control. The zenon software platform provides one integrated environment that combines data recording, machine operation, and business intelligence. Easy to use, it enables the engineering and automated operation of manufacturing and infrastructure equipment, thus supporting its users’ transition to a digital manufacturing environment.
Erema uses programmable logic controllers (PLCs) from a leading European manufacturer to control the individual machines and subsystems.
"Due to their complexity, a higher-level solution is required for controlling, operating, and monitoring the entire machine," said Erema automation engineer Siegfried Blaslbauer.
"In order to map the various system complexities, the solution must be easy to operate and scalable without onerous engineering effort."
Equipment visualization with zenon
Erema began using zenon for machine visualization in 1999. At that time, zenon was not the standard solution but was being offered as an option. Siegfried Blaslbauer, who by then had been working at the recycling machine manufacturer for more than a decade explained that zenon's ability to archive production and operating data was one of the main reasons for choosing the software platform. Other SCADA systems, he said, could not offer the same scope, speed or quality at the time.
“It was important for us to be able to use standard modules in engineering without adding complex programming and we wanted to be able to create visualization projects simply by setting parameters," Blaslbauer explained. "As well as enabling this, zenon makes the task even easier with the option of mapping different machine configurations using recipes.”
One system for every requirement
The software’s ease of use, in addition to the fact that it can be flexibly extended and adapted, very quickly led to its becoming the standard for visualisation on Erema machines. The automation engineers at the company make use of the varied functionalities of the software platform, including batch tracking and energy monitoring. As an open platform, zenon supports easy integration into the value chain.
“In addition to the simple integration of the PLC systems, one of the things that speaks in favour of zenon is that it makes it easy to use solutions from many industries,” said Blaslbauer. “These integrated solution packages help us to make running our machines particularly operationally efficient and energy efficient.”
Today, Erema uses zenon to cover all of the visualization needs of its machines and systems, including comprehensive higher-level control of large, complex systems. The software is equally suitable for connecting MES systems, for example, to integrate shift or maintenance plans.
The automation specialists at Erema rely on zenon's automation in their engineering. They use Smart Objects found in zenon libraries for creating screens, functions, and combinations. They can be called up anywhere in a zenon project and thus reused as often as necessary.
"Engineering with zenon doesn’t replace thinking, but automation with Smart Objects has saved us a lot of time with the current generation of machines," noted Martin Kienbauer, head of automation at Erema.
Some 200 actuators and sensors are used in Erema's latest machines, and their functions are controlled by the PLC. The company’s automation specialists have created a Smart Object for each of these functions. “This ensures that the function inside the machine matches the behaviour in the visualization, which enables us to exclude software incompatibilities as a potential source of an error,” said Kienbauer. “Our investment has been quickly repaid because zenon reduces the time and expense of testing and commissioning at site by 20 to 30 percent.”