Control system upgrade increases efficiency over the weekend


Process Control

Upgrading and automating a management control system has increased efficiency, maintainability, and reliability at this large coal export terminal.

Columbus, OH —Upgrading an aging, coal stockpile management control system led to increased operational efficiency for Kinder Morgan ’s Pier IX Terminal in Newport News, VA. With the help of River Consulting , a management, consulting, and engineering company, the facility installed the new system in a weekend. Benefits include more automated functions, improved alarming, enhanced displays with faster identification of and recovery from faults, and better blending and loadout controls.
The terminal is a major U.S. coal export facility that can handle 12 million tons annually with design transfer rates of 8,000 tons per hr for shipping and 5,000 tons per hr for receiving from rail cars. The original control system, installed in 1982, was becoming obsolete. The upgrade was accomplished with the addition of a new processor and HMI. Existing I/O equipment was retained.
The project consisted of replacing the control system processor and pushbutton control panel with a new processor and PC-based HMI terminals. As a result, interface screens could be developed to provide more control, monitoring, and diagnostic ability for operators. Re-use of existing field I/O equipment eliminated the need for system rewiring. By re-using existing I/O devices and networks, and performing a full system simulation and factory acceptance test on the software prior to field installation, the equipment could be installed in the short time frame.
Operators can now see all system I/O devices and equipment status on screen. Troubleshooting and diagnostics are simpler. The new PLC program is more powerful, and automated blending logic allows for more accurate control of blending operations. The addition of an Ethernet communications module lets operational data be viewed from management offices and transferred to data storage for additional analysis.

—Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jeanine Katzel, senior editor,

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