The distributed control system (DCS) is the brain of any manufacturing plant, providing the intricate knowledge and responsiveness needed to keep production running smoothly. For many plants, the decision to upgrade a DCS is often made well beyond the life of the system, when operations are starting to fail or falling behind current technology.
So how do plant managers know when it’s time to upgrade?
Check out the article, DCS Upgrade Detailed, written by our very own Jason Hurst. This article is featured in Ethanol Producer’s October 2018 issue.
Trident Automation has been featured in an article by AutomationWorld Magazine.
Learn how Trident found a solution for ways to limit downtime during a control system migration for our customers in the continuous process industries.
Stay on top of the ethanol industry with networking and best practices at the Team M3 conference! Join Trident to learn from industry insiders about how to improve your ethanol operations. The association of ethanol maintenance professionals meets twice a year for networking; breakout sessions, presentations and a vendor exposition. Trident will be on hand to share the most updated solutions to plant efficiency.
“This is a remarkable open forum between ethanol producers where plants share ideas and best practices to problem solve challenges,” said Jason Hurst, Trident’s CEO.
Trident representatives will be on hand to review the latest hardware and software to maximize DCS functionality. Top for the industry, replacing APACS systems by 2020 with upgrades and other DCS solutions. According to Hurst, Trident will continue to service the APACS product indefinitely, but system upgrades are in high demand. “Because we’re a Siemens Solution Partner, we actually have the experience to maintain the product instead of just selling parts,” Hurst said. “However we have several Siemens certified engineers that can replace an aging APACS DCS with the latest Siemens platform,” he said.
Trident has also experienced increase demand for the BMS First Out system—a module that identifies alarms and allows operators to quickly identify the source of an alarm, solve the issue, and get production back up and running.
Join Trident Automation at the annual Siemens Summit, June 25-18 at Marco Island, Florida. Leaders from Trident will present case studies pulled from real-life experiences showing how the latest control system technology at work. Trident will host two of 50 user-led presentations—we are a Siemens Solution Partner and have designed and integrated Siemens products for a wide range of customers.
SIMIT: Factory acceptance test, change management and training tool
Jeff Meneau, Controls Designer II
Jeff Meneau, Trident Automation Controls Designer II and certified PCS 7 engineer, will present a case study on how Trident used SMIT to reduce risk and increase efficiency. Trident projects often involve a full rip-and-replace of the legacy IO to PCS 7, new configuration, and subsequent training. In all situations, customers need to minimize production outage time, so SMIT has been used to test the system during factory acceptance testing, onboarding operators to the new system, and speeding up system commissioning.
“By running these sequences in a virtual ethanol plant environment, we are able to simulate flow, valve and pump operations, and test the system without ever leaving Trident’s offices,” Meneau said.
SIMIT has also been used as a troubleshooting tool. Learn how one customer called with a question about interlocks/sequencing, assuming they had a configuration error. By using SIMIT, Trident teams were able to show the configuration logic was working and, instead, isolated a problem in the field.
Design Considerations When Migrating to PCS 7 V9 with ET200SPHA
Nathan Nutter, Controls Designer II
Nathan Nutter, Trident Automation Controls Designer II and certified PCS 7 engineer, will present a case study on the design considerations, configuration approach and migrating a Trident customer from APACS+ to PCS 7 V9 with a distributed ET 200SP HA PROFINET architecture.
We will share best practices on our approach to the new IO series, IO card selection, termination and cabinetry design. We will also discuss the PROFINET network that includes both copper and fiber segments utilizing Scalance Switches for network communications.
“Newer doesn’t always mean better, but in the world of control system technology, even a few years of innovation can provide enhancements and improvements for plant operation,” Trident CEO Jason Hurst said.
During this session, Trident will discuss the role of the service bridge, considerations for network security, the use of software tools such as SIMATIC Topology Editor for the PROFINET network, and SIMIT for testing the configuration to help reduce project risk.
In addition to learning from Trident, attendees at the Siemens Summit will also be able to consult with Siemens representatives, technical experts, access free training, and review the latest products in the control systems marketplace. For more information, please visit https://www.industry.usa.siemens.com/automation/us/en/summit/pages/summit.aspx
Constant innovation—it’s the hallmark of working with Trident. The latest innovation for Trident customers is the result of perfecting a solution to a problem faced in many DCS environments—ripping out an old system and replacing it with a new one in a short timeframe. The challenges of moving thousands of field wires to the new DCS is a painstaking process.
Jerry Wenzel, Founder
“We are always looking for more ways to optimize a rip and replace,” said Jerry Wenzel, Chief Knowledge Officer, Trident automation. “I wanted to streamline the process of re-landing field wiring to the new DCS along with providing additional features and on-going value for the customer.
“We strive to use existing solutions when they exist and create solid, easily supportable solutions where none exist. I believe this termination system has more features that any other termination system in the world.”
We’ve all been there: after a meeting with a vendor, you don’t remember a thing because you didn’t understand the layers of technology. If that ever happens here at Trident, we have failed. Our primary goal is to build a control system our customers understand—a system that is easy to maintain and grow with each business.
Our three founders grew up in the controls industry and have seen your business from the inside out. Our customers trust our boots on the ground approach to keep their plants running. 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, and to customize solutions for each plant.
It all starts at the top and we’d like to share the philosophy that keeps our customers happy.
Owner Jerry Wenzel founded Trident Automation in 2002 after working in a variety of engineering positions. He is a degreed engineer and a recognized expert in distributed control systems, process design, configuration, and startup. Here’s what he has to say about building transparency into our control systems:
Owner Jason Hurst joined Jerry as the second partner in Trident. While working with Moore Products, he integrated DCS products into more than 40 companies and has a thorough understanding of working with our customers. Listen to what he says about creating a culture of customer service:
Owner Don Jolly is retired, but his impact on Trident is still active. He joined Jerry and Jason as a partner after a career as a process controls and instrumentation engineer. Under his leadership, Trident team members developed a high level of expertise to solve problems for our customers. Here’s what he says about innovation:
As you consider upgrading or replacing your control system, contact us to learn more about how Trident can solve your control system problems.
No, it’s not a self-help course; it’s what team members at Trident Automation say is great about working for the company. The systems integrator employs 41 engineers, technical staff, and support staff that service customers across the nation. Trident supports multiple industries, and customers depend on them to keep plants and production running smoothly.
Dave McCabe, Controls Engineer
“I like the fact that I get to work directly with system operators, engineering teams, and plant managers at our customer locations,” said Dave McCabe, controls engineer at Trident. “Having direct access to the decision-makers and end-users makes it easier to do my job to design systems that meet the plants’ needs.”
McCabe has been working at Trident for six years and bypassed the big company experience in favor of a more entrepreneurial environment. “The experience I receive on the job is fast-tracked here. I’m not in some corporate training department or sitting in a cube. At Trident I’m on the job learning every day.”
That sentiment is echoed by Angy Millan, a project coordinator who has been working at Trident for two years. “I come from big corporate America, I worked for the same company for 17 years,” she said. “I look at growth in in a different way now; it’s not about being on a two-year management track. At Trident it’s about developmental growth and learning as much as you can.” In her role as a project coordinator, Millan says she’s the “air traffic controller” for the engineering teams.
Angy Millan, Project Coordinator
“I love that no day is ever the same,” Millan said. “For me there is always a new challenge or a new customer situation—I feel empowered, appreciated, and work with great people who help you be the best person you can be.”
That sentiment is echoed by Whitney Washington who joined Trident in June of 2017. She served four years in the Marines in the aviation electronics field where she discovered her technical aptitude. Following military service, she enrolled at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College where a friend told her about working at Trident. Even before she graduated as a controls designer, she was employed by Trident.
Whitney Washington, Controls Designer I
She is proud to be a woman working in a male-dominated technical field and encourages more women to follow this career path. “It’s challenging in a way that I haven’t been challenged before.” Washington said. “It’s huge to me that I work for people that respect your ability to learn and have opportunity for advancement without a four-year degree.”
For her, the ability to have direct customer contact and become a member of a true team was important. “I’ve never had a job where they cared about my feelings the way they do here,” she said. “If I raise a concern, I’m encouraged to bring it to the team leaders’ attention.”
Although control engineers and designers have technical degrees, Trident employs team members in support roles of administration, finance, marketing, purchasing, and human resources. Still, employees proudly assert their tech pedigrees. As Angy Millan says, “I think you have to be a little bit of a nerd to work with a bunch of nerds. And that is nothing to be ashamed of!”
Trident is always accepting resumes for our controls engineer and controls designer positions. Please send resumes and cover letters to [email protected]
You’ve heard it before: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of E-Energy Adams, a routine check uncovered a problem that could have crippled production had it gone undiagnosed.
E-Energy Adams is a 50 million gallon dry mill ethanol plant located in southeast Nebraska. The plant has a DCS Support Agreement in place that provides for a block of remote engineering support hours at a discounted rate, quarterly reports, a site visit, and priority access to Trident’s technical team.
While going through a standard site visit checklist at E-Energy, Dallas Pitzen, controls engineer, discovered one of their IEMs was down. “They were not on a redundant system, so if the other IEM shut down they would have lost all production,” Pitzen said.
Dallas Pitzen, Controls Engineer
The IEMs are the gateway between the control system and operator interface. For E-Energy, losing this connection could have put their ethanol process out of tolerance and the plant operator would not be able to adjust tolerances. “The plant could have gone for months without a problem, but it’s pretty risky to operate without redundancy,” Pitzen said.
Pitzen talked to the plant maintenance manager, Trident sent a part overnight and the plant was up to full redundancy by the next day. Had Pitzen not been on site performing scheduled service, the issue would have gone undetected.
“I always say it’s better to fix your car before you go on a 3,000 mile road trip,” Pitzen said.
Trident has more than 50 DCS Support Agreement customers in place. Ken Wirtz is the plant manager at Commonwealth Agri-Energy near Nashville and has operated under a support agreement for five years. “We need to know if we need to get a hold of someone in the middle of the night, someone will answer,” Wirtz said. “It’s money well spent.”
DCS Support Agreements vary by customer, but all include a discount on labor rates. “This is where our customers really see the benefit,” said Trident CEO Jason Hurst. “The savings applies to all time, even after hours. And, it applies to any new projects initiated during the terms of the support agreement.” He adds that pre-paid hours under a support agreement require less administrative time because they don’t need individual purchase orders each time service is needed.
For more information on Support agreements, contact Megan Sjoberg at [email protected].
Trident will be headlining this year’s Ethanol Plant Managers Meeting hosted by Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy (SIRE), from Jan. 22-25, 2018 at the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This annual meeting spotlights innovative technologies that help improve operating systems, increase efficiency, and eventually increase profits for ethanol plants.
This year, Trident will provide case studies and real-life examples of how we have helped ethanol plants upgrade or replace operating systems resulting in operations that are easier to use and more efficient. You can find out more about:
Migrating operating systems from legacy DCS environments to the latest platforms in 3 days or less,
Writing sequences to reliably control system processes,
Combustion control technologies that enhance plant safety,
Burner management systems and much more.
Trident has served more ethanol plants than any system integrator in the business surpassing 5,000 individual projects completed for the ethanol industry. Our control solutions are specific to this industry and designed to provide customized products and services for producers. 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.