UL698A Clarification

Posted on by P.J. Kortens


Standard 698A – Standard for Industrial Control Panels Relating to Hazardous (Classified) Locations

These requirements cover industrial control panels intended for general industrial use and installation in unclassified locations with intrinsically safe circuit extensions into the following hazardous (classified) locations in accordance with the National Electrical Code (NEC), NFPA 70:

a)    Class I, Division 1;

b)    Class I, Zone 0 and Zone 1;

c)    Class II, Division 1;

d)    Class III, Division 1; and

e)    Zone 20 and Zone 21.



Control System Goes Wireless

Posted on by P.J. Kortens


We have a municipal customer that wanted to go wireless with cellular interface for all of their remote pump stations.


PJ Kortens put together a system with Cradlepoint cellular adapters and Allen Bradley Compact Logix processors.  With this system they get full local and remote system monitoring and control.

Information is linked back through a firewall to the city servers.   Their system uses Wonderware Intouch and Historian.  Operators can easily run reports and look at historical information about their pump systems to help them with maintenance planning and troubleshooting.

We also integrated 2 IPads with cellular links.  Operators can now carry  control  stations with them  wherever they are when problems arise.

As an end result,  the customer has a reliable control system with cellular links giving them remote access from anywhere.

Paint Line ROI

Posted on by P.J. Kortens


Late in 2015 a paint line production company in Wisconsin came to us with a problem.

They had an automated paint line with ineffective paint flow controls.  The existing system wore out prematurely and was very expensive to repair.


We sat down with the customer and listened to their problem.  Together we drew up a solution and put in motion a timely R&D project.

Within weeks, we were able to put it all together and prove the solution in our test lab.



– Existing paint line controls had worn out positive displacement pumps regulating paint flow.  Control was almost non-existent.

– Existing system had large paint volume to flush out between color changes.  Some components needed to be removed and manually cleaned between colors.

– Replacement part costs for the old system was near $200,000 and there was a track record of poor performance.


Eliminate the positive displacement pumps and the associated control system.

Install Siemens mass flow meters and pressure regulators on the paint lines.

Use flush-able pressure transmitters to monitor paint pressures at the nozzle.

Used an existing Allen Bradley Logix controller and configured a self populating data table to act as a high speed look-up for control variables.  This minimized response time of for set point changes.


An estimated 90 day ROI for overall project.

Overall cost around $120,000.  That’s 40% less than repairing the old system!

Paint usage dropped around 50%.  Cleaning solution dropped approximately 30%.

Lower cost replacement parts compared to the original pain flow controls.

We were able to reduce the volume and time of flushes between colors by approximately 75%.  Everything now flushed in line without being removed.

Accurate and fast control action improved quality of topcoat finishes.




Go Wireless

Posted on by P.J. Kortens

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We put together secure remote access  solutions for our customers.


Shown here is one of our recent applications.

The Village of Grand Chute wanted the ability to see their water distribution system through portable tablets.

We worked with them to come up with an affordable and secure solution.

The village purchased several tablets with data plans and we worked with their IT department to get them what they needed.

The village can now monitor the system as well as acknowledge alarms from anywhere in the village.

Call us to day to see what we can do for you!

PLC Upgrades

Posted on by P.J. Kortens

Rockwell announced the discontinuation of the PLC-5® Control System.

We have assisted many of our customers with their upgrade planning and conversions.

Our experienced automation team provides a customized migration plan based on your budget and requirements.


Solution to High Bacteria Counts

Posted on by P.J. Kortens


Cheese and dairy products customer was having problems with valves not cleaning properly.


Mixproof valves and drain valves did not seem to be getting cleaned properly and customer did not know what the pulsing sequence needed to be or when they needed to be pulsed.


We coordinated with the chemical supply company to step through each CIP circuit step-by-step on each of the customers 12 CIP systems and verify if the valves were pulsing properly and for sufficient durations to clean the valve body properly. Corrections were made to the pulsing sequences and verified that there is enough flow to clean the entire area of the valve. Also with this we created CIP pin charts to document the sequences.


Many of the valves in the customers system were not pulsing or not pulsing long enough to clean the valve body properly. The customer realized a dramatic drop in bacteria counts after the changes.  The chemical usage and CIP times were also reduced or left un-changed.

Kelly Treml  – Project Coordinator/ Master Electrician

Solution- Radio Telemetry: A test of time

Posted on by P.J. Kortens

Case Study:  Radio telemetry, a test of time Customer:

Iron Mt, Mi Water Dept

Radio Type:   900 MHz MDS INET Series unlicensed radios.

Problem: A municipal water customer in Iron Mountain, MI requested a solution for cost savings with their data telemetry system.  Rising dedicated phone line expenses between the master and 6 remote sites were currently more than $600/month. These phone line charges recently increased 40% and were expected to increase in the future.

Observation: Radio Site survey was performed before project, to determine if any interference issues were present in the area.   A total of 7 sites were using dedicated phone line for communication between sites.  

Solution: Upgraded the old phone modems to MDS 900 MHz unlicensed radio’s with Wireless IP/ Ethernet.   After the radios were proven to work in the area, Omni 7 db antennas were installed at each of the two access points and the remote Well sites had 9 db Yagi antennas installed.  The following week the telemetry system was switched from the dedicated phone line to the MDS Radio communication. One week later, the dedicated phone line was abandon and service cancelled.  Iron Mt water is now on its own telemetry control system with no leased line charges.  No communication issues as they had with the phone lines.  

Results: Monthly phone charges eliminated with a savings annually of $ 7,560.  The cities call-in overtime cost also decreased with no comm. Fails.  No communication failures have been reported for over ten years of continuous operation. Bob Guetzkow

Solution – Remote Access

Posted on by P.J. Kortens

Telemetry Network Greenville


Grenville sanitary district requires remote monitoring of operation from smart phones and or Tablets. Operators need to be able to view system, acknowledge alarms, change settings remotely.


Current Control systems includes 2 RsView SE Site edition computers for operation control, Win-911 software for alarm monitoring and notification, Allen Bradley PLC’s, and MDS Ethernet radios for communication between sites.  Fig(1)

Proposed Changes:

 Current Rockwell software RsView SE SCADA computer could be place onto the internet, firewalled and allowed access for monitoring using third party software like LogMeIn, Teamviewer, or GoToMyPC.


Placed user rights and securities onto the SCADA computers application.

Configured 2 IPAD’ s and SCADA Computer with LogMeIn software to gain remote Access.

Added new router to separate the control network and office networks.

Added separator ethernet adapter to be place on the SCADA computer to gain access to the Internet. Setup LogMeIn account, setup link on each IPAD and tested operation.


Operator can now securely access SCADA computer anywhere internet access is available or through IPAD or smartphone with good Cellular service. Remote monitoring can be accomplished when on the road, at a remote location.  Operators can also remotely monitor and acknowledge alarms.

C. Torbenson 6-15

Solution – Wastewater Lift Station Energy Cost Reduction

Posted on by P.J. Kortens

Case Study:  Lift Station Pump High Energy Costs

Customer:  Greenville Sanitary District

PLC Type:   SLC 5/04

Drive Type:  Powerflex 750

Problem:  Customer was having trouble with frequent starts on a lift station pump causing high energy costs.  The customer requested that we look at the call to run for the pump to find a solution to reduce the number of starts, which would cut energy costs.

Observations:  The pump would ramp up to speed and run at that speed for the entire time it was running.  This was causing the increased amount of starts because it pumped the station down so quickly.

Solution:  The PLC at the customer site was hard wired into the VFD.  It had the ability to control the speed of the pump but this ability was not currently in use.  We tested the system for a minimum frequency we could run the pump at without back pressure stopping it and set the minimum frequency on the VFD at this number.  Then we tested the system for the maximum frequency we could run the pump at without the current running out of the service factor of the pump.  This was set as the VFD’s maximum frequency number.   The pump was then placed under a speed control based upon the level of the lift station.

Results:  The customer reported a dramatic decrease in the number of starts on the pump and expressed their interest in surveying other parts of the Water/ Wastewater system to cut more costs.

J.Schrubbe 6/15

Solutions – Conductivity

Posted on by P.J. Kortens

Problem:  Dairy customer was having issues with Liquisys conductivity probes.  They found that the material used could not handle the extreme temperature swings of the CIP system, over time the plastic became brittle and would crack. 

 Observations:  Customer had to replace the probe twice in a 6 month period, while the probes were covered under warranty, the time spent pulling the probe & cable frustrated the customer to the point of looking for a different unit (2 maintenance guys for 2 hours).

 Solution:  Recommended changing to the Anderson ILM-2 conductivity meter.  This meter is better suited for the application, plus the analyzer & probe are all 1 unit. The customer no longer needs 2 maintenance people to pull the cable.  We worked with Vendor to get special pricing to keep the solution within budget.

 Results:  Customer has not had a problem with the this installation since.  He is now going through the rest of the plant and changing over to Anderson ILM-2 analyzers.


J Schmidt 6/5/15