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While other process technologies have made great strides thanks to the increased computing power of PC-based controls and software, many batch applications have been stuck with the same measurement and control methods for 30 years. No longer.
|FIGURE 1: WHIPPING UP A BATCH|
Q.batch “matroller” batch material controllers can run in automatic, semi-automatic or manual modes.
To reduce operator touches and provide faster and more accurate feeds and batches, Mettler Toledo is launching its Q.bATCH and Q.bATCHcompact stand-alone, configurable batch controllers. These pre-engineered, off-the-shelf manufacturing tools don’t require added PCs or PLCs, can connect to scales or flowmeters, and are designed for small- to-medium batch process applications, including filling, formulation, blending and batching.
Q.bATCH batch controllers are based on Mettler Toledo’s Q.iMPACT material feed controller or “matroller” that must be purchased separately. These matrollers grew out of the company’s long working relationship with Procter & Gamble (P&G), and their multi-year effort to meet batching’s traditional needs for low-cost, easy-to-use, flexible high-production-rate batching without resorting to tradeoffs.
“In the past, this problem was solved by constricting the process and throttling the application to death to reduce variability. However, this slows the process and production, and creates the usual trade-off between production speed and cost,” says Roger Jeffrey, Mettler Toledo’s global business development manager. “Now, instead of basing decisions on the previous batch or a recirculating loop in a material supply in dribble mode, for example, we’re using model-predictive, real-time, feed-forward control, and making dynamic-spill calculations every second with algorithms that determine two constants, so the application can calculate material as it comes towards it. This allows Q.iMPACT to reduce flow before cutoff, and so accuracy depends on the flow rate.”
Q.bATCH controllers use the Q.iMPACT material transfer controller to execute material transfer phase types, including gain-in-weight, loss-in-weight, dump-to-empty, and hand-adds. They’re available with traditional, multi-speed feed, historical pre-act adaptive control, or advanced, single-speed feed, predictive-adaptive control.
To aid smaller applications, Q.bATCH controllers also have a Wago PLC-based batch executive software program, an industrial Ethernet programmable controller and associated input and output devices. Q.bATCH has its batch executive embedded in the PLC controller, while Q.bATCHcompact’s JagBasic batch executive is embedded in the weighing indicator instrument controller.
Q.bATCH can run batches in automatic, semi-automatic or manual modes. Its batch reports provide details of each ingredient used in the batch, while consumption reports provide a running total of raw materials consumed, and production reports provides a running total of product produced per recipe. All reports output on RS232 serial port.
Meanwhile, Q.bATCH’s outputs can be configured for 24 VDC or up to 240 VAC at 5 amps, while each phase output has an independent common with circuit breaker protection. There are 20 maximum outputs, with an expansion to 50 upon special request, and any output can be configured to be a material feed, timer or an event.
The HMI consists of 8-, 12- or 15-in. color touchscreen monitors with supervisor configuration, operator control, and messages, such as operator prompts, batch status information, alarms and diagnostics, and other reports.
Q.bATCH measures 30Hx24Wx10D, and it can operate at -10 °C to 45 °C (14 °F to 113 °F) in 10%-95% humidity, non-condensing. The controller operates at 85 VAC to 264 VAC, 47-63 Hz, auto-sensing. It’s designed to Type 4X standards (front panel) in stainless steel. Finally, its measurement and control instrumentation allows a maximum of eight measurement devices, including a maximum of four scales or eight flowmeters.
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