The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is very proud to present a glimpse into the quite remarkable work being undertaken by our students completing the Master of Engineering in Industrial Automation.
These students, who are studying alongside their work in industry, are deep into the research for the thesis component of the degree. They have delivered the first of two progress presentations and it is clear that their projects will have academic applications, but more profoundly, will benefit and improve the engineering communities they serve.
Wherever the students are based in the world EIT’s innovative, live online education enables them to ‘meet’ and ‘interact’ with their globally-based lecturers and student cohort. They are all immersed in their workplaces, but also have access to EIT’s remote laboratories and simulation software; these practical applications underpin the theory in the degree.
The nature of the degree has inevitably focused the students’ thesis topics on the growing industrial automation industry. The relevance and significance of the research projects, however, can be attributed to the fact that they themselves are inspired and driven by the work they do in industry.
The following is a summary of the intentions behind the Master projects. It does not adequately illustrate the progress being made by these scholars, but it does hint at the pertinence of the research being undertaken for and with industry.
Bryan Crump is an Automation Engineer who is developing a strategy for the optimization of 2D matrix Barcode reading and part placement machinery. His thesis focuses on where the system places objects on a conveyor belt. He is aiming to create a strategy which optimises the placement of objects on the belt to allow the 2D barcode matrix to be scanned by a camera.
He hopes it will be implemented in the pharmaceutical and biological industries. He said: “The objective of this thesis is to define the optimum configuration of the equipment to ensure consistent part placement (within a pre-defined tolerance) whilst minimizing station cycle time and using readily available off the shelf products.”
Kannan Periyaiya is a senior engineer who has proposed an online monitoring platform suitable for machinery protection applications. The monitoring system will utilize the General Electric Bently Nevada 3500 monitoring system. According to General Electric, the system is the “industry’s most extensive selection of machinery measurement parameters combined with software configuration for virtually all monitor options.”
Periyaiya explains that all high-criticality equipment at gas plants is moving to completely online condition monitoring strategies in the future. Thus, the target of his project is to “scope the requirements of connecting these Bently Nevada racks to the existing System 1 Framework to enable continuous vibration monitoring and analysis of all Bently Nevada modules.”
System 1 is a software framework that connects all the vibration measurement hardware at a gas plant and allows the measuring and monitoring of those vibrations. Periyaiya will be implementing his expertise at his current employer, Santos GLNG.
Tom Davies, is an asset and sewerage manager. He is working on the implementation of a lower budget online monitoring system for a rural wastewater/sewerage scheme. He is focusing very specifically on the reliability of such a scheme, and how dynamic the system may be for highly regulated public utilities.
He explains, “At full potential, I see this type of work augmenting works of Professor Duncan Mara at Leeds University in the simplification, increased understanding and effectiveness of a limited budget sewerage scheme. The technology that I am looking at would sit on top of those schemes making effective and reliable wastewater management possible for all rural, and regional economic zones.”
The scheme Davies is proposing would be the first implementation of its kind in the industry. The Shire of Moora, Australia, is supporting the strides he is making and will benefit from the scheme he is proposing.
James Croft is a Control Systems Engineering Support practitioner for a large coal exporter in the Bowen Basin in Queensland, Australia. He has tested and documented state-of-the-art solutions for the Process Control Systems at the BMA Caval Ridge Mine Project. These systems increase the reliability of coal handling. He is also targeting methods which will increase the efficiency of the processing systems in order to attain higher production targets.
Mike Calvert is a metallurgical engineer. He will present his findings on a new control parameter for reflux classifiers on fine coal recovery. He explains that, “The final submission will include a literature review of previous laboratory studies which have progressed to pilot scale tests and then through to early models at full plant scale. The study involves conducting trials at full plant scale, varying the proposed new control parameter and collecting and analyzing samples. It will include a discussion on the new potential for use in a control system to maximize resource recovery.”
Muhammad Naveed-Ul-Hassan works in a nickel smelter providing engineering support in control systems. Many automated initiatives are designed to improve safety (among other benefits), and so it is with this project. The skimming cabins are located next to the converters, exposing the operator to radiating heat and light from molten metal. It is the operator’s job to assess the colour difference between Slag and Matt – a manual process. Muhammad aims to automate this skimming process utilizing state of the art thermal and high resolution IP cameras which will be monitored from a remote cabin. In fact his overall plan involves automating three converters all supervised from a central control room.