Trident attends Rockwell summit

Stacy Ackerman, Controls Engineer

Stacy Mancl, Controls Engineer

You can take all the YouTube videos and online tutorials you want, but nothing beats old-fashioned, hands-on experience. That’s why Trident Automation recently attended Rockwell Automation on the Move in Green Bay, Wisconsin and why Stacy Mancl, controls engineer, looked forward to the interactive sessions. “I found the labs were the most useful because they gave me a chance to play with things I’ve never played with before,” she said. The event included a trade show, technical sessions and labs.

In her role at Trident, Stacy is called on to design and implement control solutions for customers. She has a degree in mechanical engineering and has been on the Trident team since 2013, but hands-on experimentation is a direct benefit for her customers. “This time, I focused more on Rockwell’s safety technology,” Stacy said. “We’re developing some new products in this area, so this helps me offer our customers the latest and greatest on the market.” Trident Automation is a Systems Integrator for Rockwell.

Demo labs were set up using the physical equipment and systems to mirror a customer’s environment where Stacy could create a safety hazard and shut it off, then learn how Rockwell provided solutions. She gave what might be the highest praise for a tech/computer/systems geek: “It was COOL stuff.”

Ethanol plant maintenance managers to learn safety limits

Posted on by Trident
Jerry Wenzel, Founder

Jerry Wenzel, Founder

Trident founder Jerry Wenzel will be presenting at the T.E.A.M. M3 Conference & Expo, August 1-3 at the Embassy Suites Downtown in Des Moines, Iowa. The Meeting is sponsored by Louis Dreyfus Commodities.  The duo will present a talk entitled “How not to go BOOM.” The presentation is about Trident’s Burner Management and Combustion Control products.

Undetected changes or faults in combustion air or gas flow can allow a dangerous fuel rich condition to occur – often causing explosions. Trident’s cross limiting controls with O2 Trim function, continuously monitor and adjust the actual gas and air flows to maintain the desired air/fuel ratio during normal operation. Our burner management system gives you a robust tool to ensure safe operation of burners—with easy-to-understand trip and diagnostic information.


If you’re responsible for plant safety, find out how Trident products can help with better troubleshooting tools, increased visibility, high-impact graphics and a safety rated PLC and safety rated components.

For information on attending the conference, please contact Tom Boeckman, LDC at

How Windows 98 and 20-year old technology kept one company in production

Posted on by Trident

(note: Due to confidentiality agreements, we cannot reveal the name of the customer in this case study.)


What happens when you depend on your legacy system for critical production and you don’t have the budget to replace it? You call Trident Automation.

One of our customers was in that exact situation. Their operating system reported an outage on a critical boiler system completely shutting down production in that boiler. Plan A was to fix the boiler. Plan B was to re-program and re-engineer the entire boiler, which would have been weeks of work, lost production, and unbudgeted costs. The system in use was a Siemens 353 single loop controller system with LonWorks remote I/O modules—a legacy system that was unsupported by the factory.

Plant engineers knew Trident Founder Don Jolly had experience with a system of the same vintage, so he got the call.

Don Jolly, Founder

Don Jolly, Founder

“I’m close to that guy who never throws anything away,” Don said.

In one day, he found what he needed in the Trident parts inventory. He scrounged up an old 353 controller with a LonWorks board, Metra Vision software he needed, an adaptor to allow the system to talk to a PC, and his mother-in-law’s old computer. “She was throwing it out so I picked it,” Don said. “I know there are systems that are still running DOS, but when when they break you never know when you’ll need a PC that still runs Windows 98.”

According to Don, the first order on site was to get the controller to integrate with the software so he made a call to Siemens. “It had been 19 years since I worked on this system, so I got on the phone to Siemens and the guy I worked with 19 years ago still worked there,” Don said. “He even had notes from the job!” One small piece of software was needed to make the system function with Metra Vision, and it unlocked the communications channels.

Next up: configure the I/O nodes. Only two of three nodes would work, so Don called an old contact in Canada who was able to convert a needed file and send it via email to unlock the final I/O. After replacing a computer board with extra parts Don had saved for 20+ years, engineers were able to get the boiler back on line. Three days after answering the call, the legacy system was up and running and the plant was back in production.

While complete system upgrades are an ideal, most manufacturers are operating with some sort of a legacy system. “I’d say half the companies out there have some outdated legacy system that has the potential for problems and failures,” Don said. “It’s the responsibility of the control engineer to go through the plant to make sure systems are updated, but in many environments, there are so many systems, it’s a challenge to stay updated on everyone.”

In this case, experience with integrating legacy systems into today’s DCS environments and a healthy respect for “heirloom” technology were the missing links to getting a plant back into production.

For more information on how to integrate legacy systems into updated DCS environments, or to discuss migration solutions, contact Trident Automation at

Trident Automation to present at Siemens Automation Summit, June 26-29, 2017

Posted on by Trident

Jason Hurst, CEO

In a few weeks, the global ethanol industry will gather at the annual Siemens Automation in Boca Raton, FL. The annual Automation Summit is a user conference for manufacturing professionals who use Siemens automation technologies.   Trident Automation will be among Siemens Solution Partners sharing its experiences  with latest technical developments in DCS design and installation. As part of the three-day event, Trident CEO Jason Hurst will present a case study on how Trident did a total system replacement in under 60 hours.

Marquis Energy is the largest dry-mill ethanol facility in the United States with a production capacity of about one million gallons of fuel grade ethanol per day. Marquis Energy contracted Trident Automation to completely replace the APACS+ system with PCS 7, implement smart fieldbus technology, leverage the PCS 7 APL configuration library; all while utilizing a SiVaaS virtualized system architecture.

“The lessons learned in a DCS migration of this size can apply to smaller ethanol plants as well,” Hurst said. “In the 15 years we’ve been supporting the ethanol industry, we’ve learned that every project is highly customized to that plant’s systems and needs.” In order to upgrade the system in just over one weekend, Trident teams collaborated with Marquis Energy to design the system specifically to the plant’s needs and to plan the installation to reduce production downtime.

Since the system upgrade, the plant has added five PCS 7 4x4x1 MPC blocks and continued improvements around alarm management. For information on attending this presentation and others, please visit

Trident Automation: we’re #1 in ethanol

Posted on by Trident

With more than 5,000 ethanol projects under our belt, Trident is the top DCS designer and integrator for the ethanol industry. Before you believe everything you hear or read, consider the facts:

  • We have served more than 50% of the ethanol market with innovative technology solutions designed to keep their plants running.
  • We have 40 team members at our headquarters.
  • Our team has four PCS 7 certified engineers—only possible with a factory direct solutions partner.
  • Trident Automation has been serving the ethanol industry since 2003 and our founding partners worked in the industry for years prior to starting the company.
  • We’ve earned the trust of the nation’s largest ethanol producer, Marquis energy. Learn more about how we’ve helped this plant grow by viewing a short video on our website.


Before you believe everything out there online, find the facts from the ethanol industry’s most trusted systems integrator. And, if you’d like to learn more, plan to visit with us at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop June 19-21 in Minneapolis where we’ll be sharing the best practices for our ethanol customers.

Posted in General | Comments Off on Trident Automation: we’re #1 in ethanol

Direct factory relationships matter: Siemens Solution Partner

Posted on by Trident

All the bright ideas in the world don’t matter if you can’t get your hands on the technology. That’s why Trident Automation has developed and maintained deep relationships with the world’s top DCS manufacturers. We do this so our customers depend on fast turn around and access to the latest technology.


Trident Automation is one of only 11 companies in the United States recognized as a Siemens Solution Partner. Systems integrators that demonstrate specialized market expertise in a specific industry sector with significant regional, national or global support capabilities only earn this designation. To earn this ranking, our team had to demonstrate recurring technical application, including having PCS7 Certified engineers on staff, and designing engineering competence; we also had to make the grade in project management.


We are proud to represent Siemens and also proud that we have close relationships with other suppliers such as Rockwell, Foxboro, Delta V, and Honeywell.


Supplier access makes a difference to our customers. Kenny Wirtz is the plant manager at Commonwealth Ethanol near Nashville and he wanted a systems integrator with the resources and connections to support his business. “We needed to know if we had to get a hold of someone in the middle of the night, they’ll answer,” Wirtz said. In 30 minutes we solved his problem and it was largely a result of the relationships we have with our suppliers.


Learn more about how collaboration with Siemens kept the lights on for Marquette Board of Light and Power. And find out what we can do for your company at this link.


Also, visit with us and Siemens at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop at June 19-21 in Minneapolis where we’ll be sharing the best practices for our ethanol customers.

Ethanol experience matters

Posted on by Trident

Trident Automation serves more ethanol producers than any other systems integrator

We started designing and installing operating systems for ethanol plants in 2003 and we have surpassed 5,000 individual projects done for ethanol producers. We serve about 50% of the ethanol market and provide control solutions specific to this industry. We are proud to have served ethanol producers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho, California, Arizona, Texas, and Tennessee.

Trident engineers and owners have hands-on experience at ethanol plants.

Our customers trust our boots on the ground approach to keep their plants running. We routinely dispatch teams to work on-site to design systems that provide the maximum efficiency for their teams. This means we get to know each individual ethanol customer and the quirks with every operating system. Our goal is to integrate the best products on the market, but to customize solutions for each plant.

Trident can execute installs in hours or days—whatever meets ethanol production needs.

Our teams have installed an entire operating system in four hours (read the case study about Louis Dreyfus Commodities on our website). Or read about how we installed a system upgrade in 60 hours at the nation’s largest ethanol plant. Tight time frames require innovative design and pre-planning and our crews specialize in both.

Here’s what one of our customers, Jason Marquis, COO of Marquis Energy has to say about our teams: “If you look culturally at the people they bring out here to do work for us, these are people I trust. When they’re out here they’re working and working hard. More importantly they’re very reliable—if something they do doesn’t work, they fix it.”

Before you believe everything out there online, find the facts from the ethanol industry’s most trusted systems integrator. And, if you’d like to learn more, plan to visit with us at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop at booth numbers 627 & 726 June 19-21 in Minneapolis where we’ll be sharing the best practices for our ethanol customers.

Trident Automation announces business merger

Posted on by Trident
 Appleton, Wis., January 3, 2017–Trident Automation announces it has reached an agreement to merge with Trident Intech, LLC. Details of the merger were finalized  on December 31, 2016. Trident Intech is a software development company partially owned by Shane Seif and the founders of Trident Automation. Under the new agreement, Seif will be leading the new software development/R&D initiatives for  Trident Automation and will develop all proprietary software products for the company.

Trident Intech has developed products including the Workbench Suite of products that is a data collection and reporting module; the KPI System that automatically collects key performance indicators; and the Lab Data Module that presents data in easy-to-read graphics.

Trident Automation, Inc. was founded in 2002 by Jerry Wenzel, Don Jolly and Jason Hurst, all of whom continue to own the firm. The company designs and implements process control systems for manufacturers across North America and is headquartered in Kimberly, Wisconsin. It employs 19 engineers, programmers, and support personnel.

Please contact for future inquires and work requests.

TridentAutomation_one line_RGB

Support Agreements keep plants running

Posted on by Trident

And the survey says…

We just competed a survey of customers who are covered by a Trident Support Agreement and responses indicate ongoing support has its advantages. According to feedback from our customers:

  • 96% of our customers rank Trident service courtesy good or excellent
  • 84% of our customers ranked Trident good or excellent to work with
  • 86% of our customers rank Trident’s after hours support good or excellent247SupportHome

One feature of our support agreements is 24-hour support, which is often the difference between keeping a plant on line and lost production. For Commonwealth Agri-Energy in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, one phone call on a weekend solved a potential problem. “We were without trending capabilities and one call to Trident in the middle of the night saved us,” said Kenny Wirts, plant manager. “Ethanol is a 24/7, 365-day a year business and we need partners with the same mind set.”

Support Agreements are customized to each specific customer’s needs but typically include

  • 20 hours of remote support from our technical team via a secure internet connection
  • One three (3) day onsite visit for preventative maintenance of the controls system
  • Reduced engineering rates on all work performed under contract
  • Reduced minimums on after hours, Sunday, and Holiday call ins
  • Reduced tuition for DCS training provided by Trident Automation
  • DCS Backups
  • Quarterly Reports of services performed
  • Same day response from a Trident team member

According to John Madajewski of CertainTeed, “We have highly customized operating systems and Trident has been a key part of our team, because they spent time to learn our process and focus on making the plant successful.”

Find out how an ongoing Support Agreement can help your business by or

Posted in General | Comments Off on Support Agreements keep plants running

Case Study: Total DCS migration in under 60 hours

Posted on by Trident

When you’re one of the largest ethanol plants in the United States, a system upgrade could present a serious production problem in terms of losing thousands of dollars a day in income. But Marquis Energy trusted Trident Automation to do just that—amazingly, in only 60 hours.

Marquis Energy, located in Hennepin, Illinois, is the largest dry-mill ethanol facility in the country with a production capacity exceeding 300 million gallons per year. The plant was constructing a second 100+ million gallon unit and owners wanted to have both units on the same, most advanced system.

The plant was operating on a Siemens APACS DCS legacy system with Wonderware HMI, but needed to modernize the plant and leverage the advanced control strategies newer systems offer. Owners opted to install a Siemens PCS 7 solution, and Trident needed to execute a complete migration installation during a planned 60-hour shutdown over a weekend. “Their HMI was showing it’s age,” said Jason Hurst, founder of Trident. “Our expertise in PCS 7, integrated products, and KPI modules along with our trend interface and interlock visualization, met with Marquis’s high level of standards and requirements,” Hurst said.DSC_0021

Marquis Energy had been working with Trident since 2008. “We were looking for a short turnaround time,” said Jason Marquis, COO of Marquis Energy. “I thought on a project of this size there would be growing pains, so I’d rather do the project with someone we could trust.”

Over twelve weeks, Trident teams rewrote code, reconfigured logic, created new graphics, pre-assembled and tested thousands of connections, cables and components offsite at their headquarters. Pre-labeling I/O, organizing connections, and utilizing our innovative cabling solution helped the teams eliminate days of downtime. “Marquis opted for a Siemens solution because they knew it lent itself to speed and advanced control,” Hurst said.

When it was all done, Trident completed the rip and replace ahead of schedule with no production downtime.

“When Trident is here they’re working and working hard,” Jason Marquis said. “More importantly if something doesn’t work, they fix it. It’s about them getting you running and having our facility work well.”

According to Marquis, plant operators like the updated HMI and functionality and Trident is available if additional training is needed. “We’re happy to have an updated system with a useful life ahead of us,” Jason Marquis said.

Posted in General | Comments Off on Case Study: Total DCS migration in under 60 hours

Our Partners

Siemens OpX Control Rockwell Automation Wonderware CSIA