Unity Boiler House Control – A Customer’s Perspective

Tangerine Confectionery recently purchased a Yorkshireman steam boiler from Byworth to replace their 90 year old Lancashire boiler.

 

Name: Robert Overton     Role: Engineering Manager
Business: Tangerine Confectionery

Company Background

Tangerine Confectionery are a leading UK independent manufacturer of sugar confectionery and branded popcorn. The business is a home-grown success story, having increased its turnover from less than £40m to over £170m in seven years. The reasons behind the success include commitment to excellence, innovation, product quality, dedication to the customer and a determination to protect and promote traditional skills in UK manufacturing. Tangerine is also actively looking for new opportunities to invest in growth, maximising on its unique capabilities in order to manufacture a complete range of sweets and products to the UK, to the highest quality standards.

Tangerine produces the famous Butterkist brand

Tangerine produces the famous Butterkist brand

Rob Overton, Engineering Manager, explains:

“We were increasing our capacity of the factory which meant building some new stoves to cure the product. The boiler we had was from 1925 and had in the past only been working  single shifts whereas now it was going to be working 24hours a day. It was going to cost money whatever we did so we thought now’s the time to get a new boiler for the extra capacity we needed and have something we could leave unattended for long periods.” 

steam boiler for food, drink, brewing, distilling, pharmaceutical, chemical, animal feed industries

Evaluating the Options

Rob, while researching possible suppliers, saw Byworth were relatively close. Then when he started speaking to other people, he found that “other manufacturers don’t necessarily do all the manufacture in this country – particularly the shell, the most critical part of the entire boiler. I wanted everything from a well-regulated country like Britain.”

Believing in Byworth

Byworth invited Rob and Tangerine’s Project Engineer Ian Simmons to their factory in Keighley, West Yorkshire. From the initial tour of the factory through to examining the award-winning Unity panel, Rob was sold on becoming a Byworth customer. He revealed, “being from a technical background and seeing all that Unity encompasses instead of lots of different little controllers, I thought why isn’t everybody doing that?” He continued, “I could just see the benefits with the fact you’ve got a platform that even if you don’t do a lot with it to start off with, you can plug stuff in and out of it relatively easily to try and make your boiler work with your process and steam demand.”

The Benefits and Beyond

One of the real benefits Rob has already identified was the automatic closing of valves, and linking the extensive scheduling options to what their stoves are doing over the weekend (when he doesn’t have many people in the factory) and the steam demand profile is different. Rob can envisage opportunities in the future whereby the stoves could tell the boiler when to start. Unity, while significantly ahead of its competitors, remains in continual development. With each Unity customer, Byworth gains new insight into how they can develop the platform further, adding yet more value to the end-user.

steam boiler control

Above: Unity screenshots, demonstrating its extensive functionality. –Click image for larger version

Service – A long-term support

Unity’s remote accessibility options add a whole new dimension to service support. The shift from a largely mechanical system to a fully digital system offering a wealth of new information could be daunting but with remote access, Byworth’s engineers can see exactly what the site personnel are seeing and offer much more meaningful phone support. The year-round remote monitoring means that Byworth are aware of problems at the same time as the engineers on-site, and with the trending of data, there has actually been a couple of occasions that Byworth have been able to give advice that avoided significant downtime. Rob Overton made the point that with Unity, it is much more likely that we can foresee the events that would lead to a problem and stop it before the problem transpires.

Technological Advantages

Unity can be used on multiple devices to ensure optimum operation and visibility of your process. Rob Overton is logged into Unity via his smartphone: “It means that if something’s happening over the weekend or if there’s a few people in the factory, I can just look at it to see what it’s doing or if there is a problem I receive an email alert.” Unity can be connected remotely either by LAN, WAN or via a 3G M2M connection. Machine to machine (M2M) devices exchange information and perform actions without manual intervention as an integral part of the ‘Internet of Things.’

Summary

Unity supports the rapid development and worldwide adoption of the Internet of Things as well as the continued growth of M2M technology offering a more meaningful service visit through predictive maintenance and pre-accessing problems as they develop, avoiding costly unplanned downtime or abnormal running conditions. Unity offers unprecedented levels of visibility and fingertip control of every aspect of boiler house technology. Explaining the thought processes that drove its development, Jason Atkinson commented,

Current integrated systems are simply not using the data they collect in an effective manner. With Unity, we’ve thought about how all of these discrete signals can be brought together and made to work in a user-friendly system that is far greater than the sum of its parts. What we’re offering is a boiler house that makes intelligent decisions based on multiple pieces of information.”

From a central user interface, a built-in touch screen, or remotely via PC, tablet or smartphone, Unity operators can view processed boiler house data and trends relating to numerous values including:

  • Boiler and Manifold Pressures
  • Boiler Water Levels and Conductivity
  • Hotwell Levels and Temperature
  • Blowdown Temperature
  • Flue Temperature and Gas Analysis
  • Plus several more ancillary values depending upon boiler configuration

All alarms and tests conducted are logged and can be exported to a network printer if required; whilst a straightforward ‘traffic light’ warning system keeps users up-to-date with any changes in plant conditions and draws focus to areas requiring attention or adjustment. This comprehensive, ‘joined up’ approach to the management of multiple processes gives Unity its unique advantage over other control systems, which typically employ third party applications to control each aspect of the boiler house.