BCl introduces latest cooking extrusion automation control system

Bachelor Controls Inc. (BCI) reports that it recently introduced the latest evolution in cooking extrusion automation systems. The company adds that BCI Autipilot, version 2.0, offers extrusion operators the power of the original, including tight moisture control, operator consistency, advanced diagnostics, and excellent return on investment (ROI).

By Control Engineering Staff December 4, 2003

Bachelor Controls Inc . (BCI) reports that it recently introduced the latest evolution in cooking extrusion automation systems. The company adds that BCI Autipilot, version 2.0, offers extrusion operators the power of the original, including tight moisture control, operator consistency, advanced diagnostics, and excellent return on investment (ROI). However, version 2.0 has increased data management performance; improved operator flexibility with more scalability, new warm start-up and barrel pre-warm modes; and an easier user-interface with improved look and feel.

BCI has also reduced the overall cost of expanding Autopilot to handle multiple extrusion lines and auxiliary equipment, such as dryers, coolers, coating, and product transfer equipment. BCI adds that Autopilot is the industry’s first automated cooking extrusion control system, and that it’s built on a flexible platform and is capable of automating most brands and models of extruders.

“The growth and reception of BCI Autopilot in the industry has been tremendous,” says Ray Bachelor, BCI’s president. “Integrating valuable customer feedback with state-of-the-art technology has allowed us to take the most advanced offering in the marketplace, and improve it even further.”

Autopilot uses Rockwell Software’s RSView Supervisory Edition and Microsoft’s SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE), and BCI adds that Version 2.0 offers the latest control and database technology. RSView Supervisory Edition offers an integrated, scalable architecture to accommodate the needs of traditional, standalone human-machine interface (HMI)/programmable logic controller (PLC) systems and highly distributed industrial automation systems. BCI programmers used MSDE’s data engine, built on core SQL Server technology, for improved data management performance and reliability.

One of the most popular improvements is Autopilot’s new overview screen. Designed to serve as the “cockpit,” this screen contains information the operator needs to monitor the entire extrusion process. Operators also enjoy more efficiency with fewer screens to navigate, and refined graphics that show more detail. The barrel “pre-warm” mode allows the operator to begin warming up the barrel during extruder set-up, and the “warm start-up” mode starts the extruder more quickly when the equipment is warm and ready to go.

“We strive for continual improvement,” adds Bachelor. “Based on experience and feedback in the field, BCI Autopilot 2.0 is engineered with an updated set of best practices and standardized on new control models. Customers trust us to provide the leadership necessary to guide them through the risk associated with automating their systems and processes.”

BCI provides control and systems integration solutions to manufacturers with focused experience in the food processing, petfood, pharmaceutical, plastics, specialty chemicals, and feed and grain industries. The firm’s specialties include high-end batching systems, cooking extrusion, modified starch processes, bulk material transport and material handling. BCI has also developed specialty skills in machine vision inspection, data collection, and material tracking systems. The company uses its top-floor-to-plant-floor understanding to provide expertise in manufacturing execution systems (MES) solutions, integrating process control systems with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, to give customers near real-time information they can use to make critical business decisions.

—Jim Montague, news editor, Control Engineering, jmontague@reedbusiness.com