Softing's PROFINET software helps control steel plant

  • June 20, 2013
  • Softing Inc.
  • Case Study

June 20, 2013 - SSAB, a leading producer of high strength steel, standardized on Softing's PROFINET protocol software for use with its PC-based Proview control system. The industrial communication solution was successfully deployed in a new steel plant that was built in Mobile, Alabama. Today, ten Proview controllers successfully operate at the Mobile steelworks using PROFINET. Together they control more than 650 field devices. Some of the larger networks consist of up to 150 field devices, including a number of drives. These large networks achieve very fast cycle times of 8 to 32 milliseconds, without fully exploiting the optimization potential. The Proview platform utilizes a computer with x86 architecture, a 2.16 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM and an Ethernet controller on the mainboard. The current operating system is Linux in kernel version with real-time capabilities.   Proview was originally developed by SSAB and Mandator as a control system based on standard computer architecture. Today, Proview is an Open Source Process Control System. It is a modern, powerful, and universal control system that includes all features necessary for successful sequential control, adjustment, data acquisition, communication, supervision, etc. In the past, SSAB successfully integrated PROFIBUS DP with Proview using Softing's industry-hardened interface boards. However, the data exchange between field devices is more and more shifting to Industrial Ethernet. For this reason SSAB saw the need to extend its Proview system with an Ethernet-based industrial protocol. After evaluating multiple options, SSAB's team of engineers selected PROFINET as the preferred industrial protocol and Softing's PROFINET protocol implementation as the most viable technology for the job. Engineering teams from Softing and SSAB worked together to port the protocol software within a day to the target environment. Initial tests revealed a high network load during network start-up. This unusual network load was based on the large number of networked devices that flooded the network with Multicast and Broadcast messages during the start-up procedure. To mitigate the initial network load and to transition the field devices quickly into data exchange the engineering teams successfully modified Softing's PROFINET controller stack to actively manage the start-up behavior.     SSAB views the Industrial Ethernet project as a great success. "Softing's PROFINET stack meets all our requirements", explained Robert Karlsson, head of development at SSAB. "The cooperation with Softing was very good, and thanks to Softing's short response times we were able to quickly make all the necessary adaptations to the runtime environment as we went along." Robert Karlsson says he is "convinced that the foundation for the future use of Proview on the shop floor has been laid with the PROFINET implementation." About SSAB SSAB is a leading producer of high strength steel. The company has a 6 million tonne capacity for crude steel. The company's sale of niche products – the high strength steels – amounts to approximately 38% of its total sales. SSAB has production plants in Sweden and the USA. In Sweden, production is integrated in a blast furnace process. In the U.S., it is scrap-based production in electric arc furnaces. SSAB employs approximately 9,000 people in 45 countries. In 2012, SSAB sales amounted to almost SEK 38.9 billion (38,923,000 ,000 Swedish krona).

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