In comedy they say that timing is everything. As a result of being in the right place at the right time Athenry Electrical have found themselves as The Winner of the 2013 ECANZ Excellence Awards NHP Industrial Automation Category held in August.

Getting to this stage has certainly been no laughing matter though. The fact that the project for the customer involved a Backend Machine and Plant Control System Upgrade which was commissioned a day prior to the shortened deadline, (a deadline which initially was a whole week longer) is testimony to the hard work and effort put in by all parties.

OEM installation technicians were onsite from the UK to help with commissioning but the electrical install of the machine fell to Athenry on top of the initial assignment to build and install the Main Control Panel and relocate the Power Panel and run cables to the cabinets.

To add to this in the early stages of the first week of the 3-week shut, the customer had some new production demands placed upon them which meant the 3-week shut was reduced to 2 weeks!"

As part of a business development process Athenry Electrical approached the Engineering Manager back in 2011 with an offer of electrical services. The contract couldn't have been better timed as they were looking to upgrade their entire plant process control and automation infrastructure. The older PLC systems were to be replaced as part of this upgrade.

Athenry Electrical set about putting together a totally orchestrated upgrade of the plant that included the electrical engineering design and manufacture of a new Main Control Panel MCP. This meant providing full process and line control automation capability, motor control and general distribution.

The MCP was designed to incorporate the latest and most advanced Allen Bradley Control Logic PLC which was utilised to maximize its networking capabilities.

The Ethernet network communicated with the AS-I, HMI (Human Machine Interface) and new machine interface systems.

A legacy Allan Bradley multi drop proprietary network "RIO" card in the PLC communicated with old PLC 5 racks. Finally, a device net card communicated with the old and new variable speed drives. The powerful processor allowed for the multiple standalone PLC's to be unified into one programme. This centralisation of control benefited Visy with quicker commissioning and ease of maintenance into the future.

"In the beginning the scope was to design and build a new MCP, relocate the Power Panel (PP) that conflicted with the position of the new neck-forming machine, a multi-stage die machine capable of producing cans at speeds of up to 3400 cans per minute. We also knew we had to upgrade and install new sub main supply for additional compressor systems and with the relocation of PP meant upgrading the neutral to comply with latest regulations," says Dave Harris.

With the Visy building structure having a roof span of approx. 10-15 metres there was a large volume of overhead ladder tray to install which accommodated all relocated and additional sub main and control cabling.

The customer provided some mini production shut times leading up to the main install which provided Athenry preliminary preparation and installation of the ladder tray and the relocation of PP. However at this time the team at Athenry was unaware of the requirement to provide the install of the new Neck-Forming Machine with all the associated control wiring.

With the completion of the Backend Machine and Plant Control System Upgrade Athenry Electrical has been able to demonstrate its competency on a number of levels including having the personnel to deliver a comprehensive support package designed specifically to meet the needs of the customers plant. Also as a result of systems put in place it now has the capability to react to situations that might arise in an effective and efficient manner.

"At Athenry Electrical we pride ourselves on our level of Health and Safety competency which includes, but not limited to, all trades staff being certificated in height work, elevated work platforms, confined space, hazard I.D and dairy permit receiving," say Dave Harris. This training is done to ensure our staff is equipped to complete projects safely and to give our clients confidence in the competence levels of the people doing work."

Not only has the entire upgrade been a success but also the understanding shown by Athenry Electrical on health and safety issues throughout the plant exceeded the customers requirements.

Other Awards

2010 Finalist - Winstone Pit Dewatering read more

2007 Award Winner - Power Base Automation Upgrade Award - read more

2005 Award Winner - The Powerbase Industrial Upgrade Automation Award for an industrial or automation upgrade read more

Athenry Electrical provides specialised electrical engineering design and services for the manufacturing, production and energy industries. For further information about Athenry Electrical call 09 273 7325 or email

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