Altus’ technology applied on polyvalent solution for concrete and fertilizer plants
Flexibility and versatility are two of Nexto Xpress programmable controller main highlights. Due to its wide diversity of embedded features, Altus’ compact PLC ensures performance and high connectivity to system control in different segments. Recently, this polyvalence was exercised in a solution capable of being applied in concrete plants as much as in the fertilizer industry.
Developed by one of Altus partners in Brazil, the solution is used for the production of blocks and precast, in the case of concrete plants, as well as NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) fertilizers. Responsible for controlling the dosing processes, handling and mixing of raw materials, the solution controls the scales, humidity sensors, motor drives, conveyors, gates, cylinders and electro-pneumatic valves used in the system.
High connectivity and IoT features delivered by Xpress PLC
The application uses XP340 PLC, the most complete model of the Nexto Xpress line, as main controller with a PLC XP300 acting as an I/O expansion, increasing the number of communication points available and allowing the PLC to interact with more devices. In the applied architecture, the expansion between the PLCs is achieved via CANopen, while the communication with the field devices is carried out through the RS-485 serial port and the MODBUS RTU protocol. In some cases, the solution also counts on a HMI from X2 Series for recipe entry and production control.
In addition to the equipment operating in the field, the solution also has a cloud platform for storage and process data and a SCADA system for supervising the production process. In order to pass the operation data to the cloud platform, the Nexto Xpress PLC uses the MQTT communication protocol, while the communication with the supervisor is done using OPC DA. On the other hand, the supervisory can also send queries to the cloud database using the MQTT.
A full Altus experience
In addition to the usual fast and dynamic service from our sales and technical support teams, another distinctive characteristic that made Altus the technology provider chosen for this project was the excellent connectivity and cost-effectiveness of Xpress PLCs. Designed to meet the demands of highly connected environments, the solution counts on a variety of communication interfaces and support for different protocols, allowing it to interact with a wide range of devices. The family controllers can also communicate directly to the most relevant cloud services available, such as Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, Google One and Amazon AWS.
The new architecture delivered additional precision to the process of mixing raw materials and speed to the communication between the PLC and other field devices, increasing the agility in the decision-making of the management team. The solution applied also helped to reduce operating costs, both in the concrete manufacturing process and in fertilizers and fertilizers.
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