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Optimizing old belt furnace equipment

Optimizing old belt furnace equipment

Optimizing old belt furnace equipment

Can a computer PC system be installed onto a belt furnace for temperature control and profiling? How much work/cost would that take?

Sorry for the broad question, still in the early planning stages.

Thanks in advance!

RE: Optimizing old belt furnace equipment

A computer system for a belt furnace usually consists of not just the PC but communication modules (to communicate between the PC and the temperature controllers) and software. The PC needs to have certain ports available, RS232/USB. While it is technically feasible to use your regular PC (and save a few hundred dollars), you may run into problems due to the software configuration.
The computer is specially interfaced and programmed to communicate with various furnace protocols. This includes channels to communicate with the PID and ASIC controllers, thermocouples, belt conveyor system, furnace atmosphere etc. which requires extra circuitry . In addition, the computer you use should be dust/oil tight and plenty of other things as you'll find out for yourself. You should save yourself the trouble and get a furnace with one installed already.

BTW, they are now available for internet remote purpose.

Nick Zhou
Torrey Hills Technologies, LLC.

RE: Optimizing old belt furnace equipment

The question not quite asked is:
"Can roaching a PC onto an old machine make it better than it was, hopefully as good as a new machine but for less money?"

The general answer is "no". ... but a lot of money has been burned, trying.

As has been pointed out, generic cheap PCs are not well suited to industrial environments. Bulletproofing them costs a lot of money. Bulletproofing them slowly, as you learn, costs more.

If the fundamental machine is sound, you can perhaps add capability by replacing old simple industrial control modules with new ones having extra capability. For temperature control in particular, newer modules can be had with network connections that allow monitoring and/or control by PCs located in a benign environment. But do not underestimate the cost of software to do that. Start small and limited, and don't try to do anything with custom software.

If the fundamental machine is worn out, call a scrap dealer to haul it away, and buy a new one.

One sort-of exception is very old, very big, very heavy machine tools. Nobody builds 'em heavy anymore, so rebuilding and retrofitting CNC and such can give you a machine that you couldn't buy new for any amount of money. You still need to bring your wallet.

*** If you haven't done something like this before, don't start with a unit that will put the company out of business for as long as it's down. Start with some offline process that isn't a bottleneck.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Optimizing old belt furnace equipment

>Can a computer PC system be installed onto a belt furnace for temperature control and profiling?

Well, it can, but those of us who have seen the attempts snicker and think of how applicable that 1986 American movie "Moneypit",
is. Think sinkhole.

A PC in the office is suitable for looking at the temperature data and storing it, and printing it out if need be. But not for control. The first hot summer day, particularly if the furnace has a flame curtain, the PC will overheat die. I've seen it. You really didn't have to make that shipment on time, like you promised, did you?

>How much work/cost would that take?

Let me ask what's wrong with industrial controls designed to do what you're asking? Either a PAC (process automation controller), a PLC (programmable logic controller), or whatever number of stand alone PID temp controllers. There are industrial boxes called "Setpoint programmers" designed to run a choice of SP profiles. One master can feed several 'slaves', one in each zone. And they're built for the environment.

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