Automation trend sees increased demand for Delta solutions from EM

Delta is one EM’s fastest-growing product ranges, as industry strives to contain costs and increase productivity, EM Automation engineer Cecil Rogers comments. Key system automation products in the Delta range are programmable logic controllers (PLCs), AC motor drives (variable-frequency drives), and servo and motion controllers.

“These technologies are machine-control components that enable production lines, conveyors, plants, and any other type of electrical system to become fully automated,” Rogers explains. The biggest applications at present are the manufacturing, processing, and packaging sectors.

Delta PLCs, for example, are ideal for bottling lines, plastic-bag making machines, filling machines, injection moulding, and other control processes where there is no human interface. Delta Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) can be used to operate system components such as pumps, fans, and air compressors. In addition, Delta has dedicated drives for elevator control, with EM carrying a wide range of drives for high-end applications for standard escalators and conveyor belts.

EM Automation engineer, Luke Chandata, highlights that EM has carried the Delta brand for over 20 years. The past 18 months has seen it introduce a new range of Delta products. These include the AS300 series PLC, the 3G DX cloud router, and the DOP-100 human machine interface (HMI). Latest products from Delta are the MS 300 drive range and CIU Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.

The AS300 is a compact modular mid-range PLC that provides for a high-performance multi-purpose controller designed for many types of automated equipment. Features include a 32-bit SoC CPU for enhanced execution speed (40 000 steps/ms), and support for up to 32 extension modules, or up to 1 024 inputs/outputs. It is used in automated equipment such as electronics manufacturing, labelling, food packaging, and textile machines.

The MS300 is the next-generation of high-performance and standard compact vector drives with superior drive technology, providing a compact drive that is 40% smaller in size than previous iterations. Features include PLC capacity for simple programming needs, communication slots for various communication cards, and a USB port to make data uploads and downloads quick and easy.

The 3G DX cloud router is Delta’s answer to the development of the internet of things (IoT), ensuring remote site access to individual machines and entire factories for data acquisition and even email retrieval. This allows plant owners to deal with any breakdown situations proactively and cost-effectively. The router supports Modbus TCP, Modbus ASCII/RTU, and MC protocols.

By using UMTS/HSPA and 3G technology, it is able to support a wide band range (800/850, 900, AWS 1700, 1900, 2 100 MHz), and is also downward-compatible with the GSM/GPRS/EDGE 2G network. Other features include automatic APN parameter matching and connection redial and built-in real-time clock (RTC) and network time protocol (NTP) time synchronisation over a network.

The DOP-100 adopts the latest Cortex-A8 high-speed processor and display panel with high brightness, contrast, and colour. With the advent of ‘smart’ manufacturing, cloud applications are becoming more popular. For customers new to the cloud, the DOP-100 series features built-in ethernet and other applicable network functions.

The CIU SCADA system is an industrial-data visualisation software for ‘smart’ management of factory equipment and production processes. The system uses automated management functions, including real-time system monitoring, data acquisition and analytics to assist users to collect data throughout the plant, as well as constructing a management interface for production-line visualisation. “This aids in creating remote monitoring, system management, and plant digitisation, thus enhancing overall factory production efficiency,” Rogers concludes.

Effective disaster management must include building design

As defined in SANS 10400 Part T: 2011, all SA buildings must comply with the requirements of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, 1977 (Act No 103 of 1977), Fire Protection. Robust fire safety solutions incorporate the building’s construction and dimensions, its construction materials, population and the storage of objects. These criteria comprise the prescriptive requirements described in SANS 10400-T.

Any diversion from these prescriptions needs a rational design, completed according to the fire engineering methodology framework of requirements of BS 7974: “The Application of Fire Safety Engineering Principles to the Design of Buildings”.

A rational design is the performance-based design of fire safety and prevention mechanisms and strategies in a building in order to provide the same or better fire safety levels of the National Building Regulations, where the prescriptive requirements cannot be applied. This process is not elective, in that only certain parts of the framework may be used, or that the results of the process are subjective or optional.

A rational design commences with a fire risk consultant visiting the premises, or reviewing a set of new building plans, to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of all areas of the property to inspect all areas of fire safety and risk in detail.

Correct and proper fire engineering principles are applied to ensure that the design complies with the life, building, fire behavioural, and environmental fire-safety objectives required by law. According to ASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk, the three main causes of fire are electrical, arson and heating equipment.

“In the event of a major fire that results in immense damage and the possible death of occupants, the fire engineer will be held liable. Rational design takes into account the behaviour of a building during a fire, meaning the structure must be designed accordingly, thereby minimising any potentially devastating impact.”

Fires can be dealt with through three main actions. The first is controlling the growth of the fire to prevent it from spreading. The next is suppression, which involves cooling the fire rapidly. Finally, extinguishing the fire means that there is no heated substance remaining. Evacuation should also be safe and easy, while allowing unrestricted access for emergency services. The installed fire detection system must be able to detect the fire as soon as possible, warn occupants, and allow them to escape in time.

The qualitative review under rational design includes an architectural review, fire safety objectives, fire hazards and risks, trial fire safety designs, and worst case fire scenarios for analysis. For example, consultants often ignore the building roof’s geometry, and the required substitute rectangular volume used in smoke fill formulae.

The next step is quantitative analysis according to BS7974. Here the main focus is on the development of fire within the enclosure of origin, the spread of smoke, structural response and fire spread beyond the enclosure of origin, detection of fire and activation of fire protection systems, fire services intervention, and evacuation of occupants.

Assessment against criteria is the final step, where the fire safety designs developed during the engineering analysis are assessed to ensure that the objectives established at the beginning of the process are, in fact, met.

Upon the completion of the fire risk assessment and drafting the rational design report, the assessor provides the client with practical actions to implement. The report comprises a detailed and documented objective fire risk assessment, as well as fire engineering calculations and analysis where required, covering all aspects of fire risk and safety.