Project Description

It is not luck nor coincidence for panel after panel to be installed and running within hours.  How can The Industrial Controls Company, Inc. (ICC) ensure this worry-free operation? With quality standards and metrics unheard of in the control panel industry.

Background

“Our main job is to help protect Lake Michigan.”

This single line is set apart from everything else in the Who We Are section of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District website.

MMSD provides water reclamation and flood management services for approximately 1.1 million people in 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee Area.

One of the threats to Lake Michigan is equipment failure, a potential problem in which MMSD is proactively managing by replacing 23 aging pump drive panels.  The new units have to be not only functionally identical (at a minimum) than existing units but also fit within tight physical constraints due to existing wiring conditions and modifications.

However, a great control design was only half the battle. With the unpredictability of weather in Wisconsin, it was imperative for MMSD to maintain as much plant capacity as possible. Each panel to be replaced would have to be carefully scheduled in production and startup flawlessly to ensure as little down time as possible.

Solution

Relentless Quality

The standard process for every control panel that ICC ships includes a 63 point inspection checklist with full power up testing of every component. Once our quality control inspector is satisfied, they put their own name, alongside the wireman’s name, on the panel. This is how you know our solutions are “built with pride.”

Above and beyond the rigorous standard procedure, many control panels also undergo a functional test at the factory where field conditions are simulated.  The demand for minimal downtime made these pump control panels a great candidate for this additional testing.

The functional test procedure was written by Donny Lavrenz of ICC by analyzing the functional specification line by line, then testing every portion of it. The result was a 37 step procedure which tests every variable the unit could potentially experience in the field. We went so far as to preload VFD parameters and test the panels with an actual pump and analog input signals. In the end, we can be completely confident that every unit that ships from the factory will be 100% functional.

Project Management

When priorities for the end user shift, they shift for us as well.

Due to heavy rains and varying levels of capacity at different stages in the pumping process, a need for certain drive/pump control panels was much higher than originally planned. Even though component and production schedules were already set, we found creative solutions to fit in the new “urgent” panels. Working closely with Werner Electric Supply Company, we were able to expedite components to start additional units early. Extra assembly and QC labor was then devoted to the project to finish pushing the timeframe forward in the face of changing designs and priorities.

Proactive Design

The strict design limitations on physical size and existing conductor lengths required collaboration before designs could even be started. At the very outset of the project, we collaborated with the installing contractor, Staff Electric Company for a walkthrough and brainstorm of how to attack this design challenge.

In order to accommodate these conditions, the large power conductors needed to be placed very close to their existing locations. In addition, the control wiring terminals were installed to be adjustable.  This customization allowed the inputs and outputs of the panel to be moved wherever the control wiring terminated which varied due to plant changes over the years.

Additional features to these units were included that extended beyond the scope of the specification, but we believed were best practices that should be incorporated. For instance, a component in these panels had the ability to sense a high temperature issue inside the control panel. Logic was added to alert the operator of the high temperature state, send a signal to an external PLC, and engage protective measures inside the panel.  While this was not a requirement, it is what we would expect from a true partner.

Outcome

The result are complex, multi-bay control panels that power up and, without exception, pass the onsite Functional Acceptance Testing within hours. This is the expectation for all 23 units; and it is the reality as well.

The factory functional test caught everything from broken timing relays to incorrectly scaled analog values. With full confidence that everything is in perfect working order when shipping from the factory, all that needs to be done at startup is ensure the motor is attached correctly and the PLC communicates with the unit.  It truly is that simple for our customer.

The ICC team brings this attention to detail and foresight to all of its projects and partners.

As Rob Tutkowski of Staff Electric Company, Inc. stated;

“The Industrial Controls Company, Inc. has provided us with exceptional design assistance and manufacturing of 23 drive panels for installation in two Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District locations, encompassing five different buildings. It was imperative they fit into the existing infrastructure as well as function properly in an environment they can get pretty warm. We looked to ICC to help solve these design challenges with creative thinking and they delivered.”

Also, as the resident engineer on the project stated;

“This is the smoothest startup I’ve been a part of.”