The Plant Automation Design and Implementation Process

by | EPIC Industrial Automation

How to get turnkey plant automation solutions implemented at your facility.

Many manufacturers can capitalize on automation in their plants, but actually implementing it can be a tricky process. Since 1995, we at EPIC have helped producers worldwide implement long-lasting automation solutions. That experience – combined with the first-hand in-plant knowledge our employees gained on the client site before coming to EPIC – has helped us develop our proven method for developing custom automation solutions for a wide range of industrial environments.

Our proven concept-to-commissioning process guides you through the key steps to maximize the return of your automation investment. The primary steps of this proven method are:

Process System Automation

1. Automation Controls Design and Strategic Project Planning

A strong project starts with a clear project scope and well-defined success metrics. Work collaboratively with your automation to:

  • Define your automation and manufacturing goals
  • Prove financial justification and designate an achievable ROI
  • Set the project budget and timeline
  • Create preliminary designs and identify all required hardware and equipment
  • Establish any plant-specific criteria, such as labeling standards or wiring colors unique to your plant environment

Learn more about control design

2. Control Engineering & Programming

Following project design, it’s time to start developing the programming and physical control panels required for your system. Broad categories of programming include:

  • DCS Programming
  • Logic Programming
  • PC-Based Programming
  • PLC Programming
  • Operator Interface Programming

Often, this step involves EPIC strategically designing programming based on information from line-operators to upper management to understand how people at various levels will interact with our final solution. A fancy automation system with a million options and hard to navigate interface doesn’t help plant operators run a line or upper management plan resources.

We want our solutions to stand out not for their complexity, but for their fit to everyday practical applications, smooth startup, and longevity.

3. Fabrication, Testing, and Shipment

With the project planned, system designed and programming set up, you’ll need a panel fabrication and assembly team to build various system components. We handle this in-house and the same project manager developing your controls oversees:

  • Control cabinets
  • Hardware
  • Wiring

All automation hardware is fully built and tested for the proper area classification, GMP standards, and client specific standards. Our state-of-the-art fabrication shop offers a controlled environment, expert craftsmen, and a dedicated quality assurance team.

Learn more about panel fabrication and assembly services.

4. Installation

The onsite installation process entails:

  • Installing any pre-fabricated and tested control panels
  • Installing all programming and software upgrades
  • Linking in-feed and out-feed equipment
  • Adjusting power distribution and making site modifications as required
  • Integrating new controls with existing plant systems (for proper communication)

The key to installation is to keep downtime to a minimum —every hour of downtime costs thousands or even tens of thousands depending on the plant. Coordinate the installation with your automation partner(s) to minimally impact your existing operations, and ensure they pre-test all control panels before shipment to deliver a rapid startup.

Learn more about EPIC’s installation process on our control system installation page.

5. Startup & Integration

The last phase is to ensure all systems are:

  • Fully installed
  • Functioning properly
  • Successfully handed off to your team

Your automation partner(s) should provide you with a comprehensive handoff, complete with:

  • Operations manuals
  • Staff training on how to use your new systems
  • Recommended spare parts lists
  • Full documentation
  • Continuing support post-handoff

See what a 100% spec checkout process looks like.

Any Questions? Just Ask the Automation Veterans.

At EPIC, we bring several decades of experience in automation design and implementation for manufacturing plants. Our team is well versed in the latest process technologies and certified across a range of process equipment manufacturers and protocols.

Move your plant automation project forward by contacting our expert automation team at 314-858-5564 or here on our website.

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