GB Innomech is an industrial automation systems integrator that has put its skills to good use in its own premises by installing a CC-Link control network for environmental control.
GB Innomech, based near Ely in Cambridgeshire, is an automation company specialising in solving difficult manufacturing problems. The company prides itself on its ability to cross-fertilise technologies and techniques between the different sectors of industry it serves, a procedure that has often resulted in significant innovation and success. So when building its new corporate headquarters, it felt natural to install an environmental control system that was tailored to suit the building's requirements.
Keith Reeds of GB Innomech takes up the story: "In our everyday work we are constantly assessing and specifying industrial control equipment, so we had some idea of how much the environmental controls should cost and what sort of performance we could expect. When the proposed system fell short of our expectations we did some calculations of our own and decided that industrial grade automation equipment would give far better control and performance at much lower cost."
The system that GB Innomech designed is based on a PLC (programmable logic controller), an HMI (human machine interface) and distributed networked local control nodes.
One of the decisions was to integrate as many functions as possible into one central control system that could constantly optimise the entire building for energy performance. A total of 150 digital and 50 analogue inputs monitor the building's environmental conditions. Actuators control heat, light and ventilation to 15 offices and meeting rooms, 10 communal rooms and 300m2 of workshops.
Central control is provided by a single PLC connected on a distributed control network so as to reduce wiring. CC-Link was chosen as the operating protocol as it is an open system that can communicate with a wide variety of field hardware.
Touchscreen HMIs enable users to set preferences for each room and display the current status and historical trends of monitored and controlled devices. The control system also anticipates building heat demand using real-time clock triggers sent from the HMI to the PLC.
The HMI is linked to GB Innomech's IT network for archiving of trend data and generating alarm and status reports. Additionally both the control system and the building have been designed to allow for growth, so the company can treble in size without too much difficulty.
For more information about GB Innomech go to www.innomech.co.uk.