Control System Update

Longbeach Export Terminal


Industrial Systems designed and commissioned a control system for Koch Mineral’s bulk handling facility at the Port of Long Beach California. The facility uses a series of conveyor belts and belt feeders to receive and ship bulk material. Material is received via truck, stored in silos, and finally loaded onto vessels via a shiploader. At the time of this project the terminal was loading approximately 50 vessels per year. Extended down time due to a system failure would have been very costly in terms of dollars and the ability to meet customer commitments.

The purpose of the project was to improve reliability. The old system had run for over 25 years, largely untouched, utilizing Allen Bradley PLC-5 hardware and a custom made graphical interface system. The graphics would often freeze and cause delays in operation. Many control and monitoring functions either did not work or were inaccurate. After a site evaluation it was agreed upon that the best path forward would be to replace the PLC and HMI system while still utilizing existing electrical equipment and instrumentation.

Allen Bradley ControlLogix platform was selected for the PLC hardware. Allen Bradley FactoryTalk View Site Edition was selected for the HMI system. A fiber optic network was installed across the plant to interconnect remote PLCs and HMIs. The general approach to operating the plant was maintained but modified to be more intuitive for operators and to include additional monitoring, inventory tracking, alarming and reporting. Remote access to the control system was also installed to allow the facility faster and less expensive support.

Minimizing down time during installation of the new control system was very important. Rather than relying on a window of shutdown time an alternative approach was required. The new control system was installed side by side with the existing one. Periodically there would be a day or two where the facility did not need to run – this is when parallel wiring between the systems was installed. Field equipment, wiring and programming were all tested and monitored well before the new system assumed control. Operators were also trained ahead of time. This approach allowed all the unknowns to be flushed out while the facility was still running. The old system was powered off when the facility had a two day break in operations. The transition between control systems ended up being seamless and did not require a planned shutdown.


Longbeach, CA