A SCADA-enabled control system can give users the ability to look at more than one piece of equipment at a time and drill down as necessary to find information on individual machines.

“Just as the Internet has revolutionized how people communicate and learn,” says Bob Criswell, manager electrical engineering at Conair, “the Internet of Things — or IoT — is changing dramatically how machines communicate and exchange data with each other and with the people who use them. Most of today’s control systems are designed for Ethernet connectivity, and through industrial networks and the Internet they can connect and communicate with almost any other device. We can use that technology to significantly reduce costs and increase ease of use, maintenance and integration.”

The Cranberry Township, Pa.-based company suggests its ControlWorks system can serve as a portal to the process. From one PC interface, the control system makes it possible for plastics processors to monitor the operation of blenders, loaders, dryers, heat-transfer units and other equipment and make changes to primary process set points. The SCADA-enabled system is self-loading: it recognizes when a new auxiliary is added to the processor’s network.

Conair also has added a tablet-based system that can replace the human-machine interface (HMI) panels that are found on almost all equipment. A single tablet computer can address the controls on multiple pieces of equipment so that it becomes the HMI for each of them. Supervisors and other employees authorized to perform setup and maintenance carry a tablet with them and connect to any equipment that requires attention.