How Unitronics PLCs, VFDs, and UniCloud Revolutionized CAMS Plant Control & Management

Summary:

Location, telemetry, remote access, the ability to identify the current machine owner/operator, and then to collect, analyze, and sort data according to owner/operator all led CAMS to embed UniCloud IIoT into all product lines of their mobile crushing and recycling plants.

Mobile machine applications must be able to determine current machine location, identify the current machine owner/operator, and then collect, analyze, and sort data according to owner/operator – all while enabling secure Remote Access.

CAMS s.r.l. is an Italian company, specializing in the design and manufacture of mobile crushing and recycling plants.  CAMS mobile plants can crush, shred, separate, and screen aggregates, asphalt, construction, and demolition rubble as well as a range of other waste materials. With hundreds of installations in Italy and across the globe, CAMS recently faced new challenges – and met them successfully, using UniStream controllers integrated with UniCloud, Unitronics’ end-to-end IIoT cloud platform.

UniCloud was an excellent fit for their business model. 

First of all, CAMS recycling plants are mobile, constantly being moved from worksite to worksite; they therefore need to identify the current location of any given plant. In addition, a single company or organization can rent or purchase CAMS plants, and then rent them out to its own customers. This means that CAMS needs to identify who is currently renting or operating each plant, as well as its current location. In order to allow authorized users to monitor and log plant data and safely access the controller for trouble-shooting purposes, CAMS also needs to be able to provide its customers with customized dashboards to access information.

UniCloud provides all of that functionality and more.

Do-it-Yourself IIoT designed for Machine Builders

At the beginning of 2022, CAMS began embedding UniCloud into all of its mobile plants. This was easy to do because CAMS automates its plants with UniStream PLC + HMI All-in-One devices. No modification of the existing Control, HMI, or Motion application was required; a few simple clicks is all that is needed to enable UniStream controllers to connect directly with UniCloud.

Since UniCloud is a simple, no-code, do-it-yourself IIoT platform, CAMS can link customers to specific machines – called Assets in cloud lingo – without relying on programmers and IT professionals. The platform provides a global overview of the location of all plants and their ‘health’ status.

UniCloud enables CAMS and its customers to do the following:

  • Acquire the exact location of each plant at any given time via the GPS PLC unit which sends the plant’s location to UniCloud and displays it on the Dashboard.
  • Track and display a plant’s telemetric data, including working hours and material production.
  • Easily view, log, and control fuel intake.
  • Automate reporting: UniCloud can generate reports and send them via email or SMS, according to schedule or event trigger.
  • Maintain machine ‘health’: enables preventive maintenance methods by providing information and alerts that minimize downtime and avoids breakdowns.
  • Remotely access plants to implement preventive maintenance and fix errors as they occur.
  • Enable CAMS customers to improve productivity and accuracy, by allowing them to prepare precise invoices for their own clients, based on the exact number of hours a plant has been running.

With the UniCloud No-Code platform, CAMS easily created customized dashboards for different purposes.

The next image shows CAMS’ GeoLocation dashboard.  The user can click an Asset either on the map or in the table to directly access a specific machine and view its detailed dashboards.

Once the Asset is selected, UniCloud jumps to that Asset’s main detailed dashboard. CAMS main dashboard shows the current status of the Asset, with big clear “menu” buttons that the dashboard user can use to perform actions and view status.
In addition to viewing the basic working hours, the weighing system dashboard shows the total and daily material produced as well as the production trend.
The information tracked by UniCloud enables CAMS to generate accurate, detailed reports for billing purposes.

Cost Reduction, Efficiency, & Boosting ROI

Cost reduction and efficiency are interrelated.

CAMS is able to reduce costs by using Unitronics’ end-to-end automation solution, which fully integrates Unitronics hardware, software, and its IIoT cloud platform, UniCloud. 

A major benefit is UniCloud’s powerful Remote-Control capability. This allows CAMS technicians to remotely access the HMI program and service plants via a secure VNC connection, enabling them to avoid traveling to customer sites – eliminating the time and expenses of on-site service calls, especially to foreign locations.

Another source of cost reduction is the flexible, free programming software. UniLogic®, UniStream’s All-in-One automation software, enables users to develop the PLC, HMI, and Motion applications in the same simple environment, cutting down programming time.

In addition to drastically reducing the time needed to program control, communications, and HMI, the software enabled the team to use a single VFD to control two motors via programming. The team solved this issue by using a single Unitronics VFD to control two motors. This was possible because the motors do not work simultaneously. The PLC stores the parameters required by each motor, and the program transfers the parameters to the active motor when the motor starts.

In addition, UniCloud is a do-it-yourself IoT platform that covers all aspects from machine to cloud and back. CAMS did not need to hire any outside professional help to build their dashboards, or to maintain and add onto their system—any questions they had were quickly answered by the Unitronics support team, provided at no additional charge.

Raising efficiency, for example fuel usage, by effectively analyzing and using data is a CAMS objective.

Air Pollution: Control, Monitor, Report

CAMS recycling plants use diesel fuel, which generates air pollutants, specifically NOx emissions. The Unitronics PLC program controls the application of DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid, also referred to as AUS 32 or ADBLUE) into the system, which converts NOx into non-polluting water and nitrogen. UniCloud continuously collects DEF data and displays it on the dashboard dedicated to that purpose, enabling staff to visually monitor DEF status. Any deviation from set levels is not only recorded: the deviation event can automatically generate an alarm and a report, which can be sent to designated staff via SMS or email.

Automatic reporting and alerts provide a major added value for machine builders and OEMs—these features boost both work and communication efficiency. Growing concern for the environment and climate change greatly increases the need to comply with ESG standards, as well as multiple local and often international regulations. UniCloud’s ability to automate data harvesting and provide accurate, transparent, repeated, and detailed reports can help with compliance.

CAMS Speaks

Marco Venturi, CAMS Senior Technical Director, prefers Unitronics easy to use, high-performance, hardware, supported by powerful, free software—this is one of the reasons CAMS has used Unitronics control products for over a decade.

Mr. Venturi describes the benefits of using Unitronics: “Having reliable hardware is a must for our applications. Good technical support is essential, and Unitronics has always been ready to answer to our needs with both remote and on-site technical assistance. UniCloud gives our solutions added value, gaining the advantages of IIoT technology that benefit our business”

CAMS now has a comprehensive, global overview of all their plants, regardless of location, all on one dashboard. According to CAMS, a major benefit of connecting all their machines to UniCloud is being alerted—in real time–to any special conditions or events that require attention. This greatly shortens service response times and avoids machine downtime.

CAMS—thanks to UniCloud—can now implement a proactive approach to machine service, one based on real data instead of, or in addition, to planned periodic service regardless of the machine’s real-time status.

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