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Automotive Industry

Johnson Controls

Modernization of the control technology of a recycling plant for batteries with PCS7

The company

Johnson Controls (JCI for short) is a global company with a broad range of products and services for the building and automotive industries. More than 168,000 employees worldwide produce high-quality products to optimize the energy efficiency of vehicles and buildings. As early as 1885, Warren Johnson founded the company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, initially under the name "Johnson Electric Service Company", as a result of his invention of the first electric room thermostat, and was already committed to sustainability at that time. The company is now divided into three business segments. Spread over 500 branches in more than 150 countries, the "Building Efficiency" division offers products, services and solutions in the fields of heating, air conditioning, ventilation, cooling and safety technology for buildings. The "Automotive Experience" division manufactures car seats, headliner systems, door panels, instrument panels and electronics for vehicle interiors. More than 250 sites in 125 countries are part of this division. "Power Solutions", as the third business area, develops and produces lead-acid vehicle batteries as well as innovative batteries for vehicles with start-stop function, hybrid and electric vehicles.

Task and solution

Lead-acid vehicle batteries are recycled at the site in Krautscheid. For the already running plant, a modernization of the automation system was to be carried out and this was to be extended by some additional functions. Furthermore, the task was to provide a solution that is both flexible and modular, as well as highly available. In terms of the process flow, the batteries to be recycled are first placed in a shredder so that the acid can be separated from the rest of the battery. The crushed batteries are mixed in a certain ratio with coke, among other things, and together they form the feed material for the shaft furnace.

Here the lead of the battery is melted out. The molten lead is then cast into ingots and refined in the further course of the process. The remaining components are then burned off via thermal post-combustion and the gases are purified via filter systems. Various control circuits keep the exhaust gas temperature at a constant level via air and water cooling. The gases are then discharged cleanly to the outside. As control technology, focus used SIMATIC PCS7 with a high-availability SIMATIC 416-5H controller, which is redundant and therefore fail-safe. The control system couples to ten ET200M modules via a likewise redundant Profibus system. For the connection with another PLC for the burner control and the filter system, an Ethernet with ring topology was established.

A SIMATIC SCALANCE X216 controls the communication in the ring and ensures that the bus remains in operation even if one station fails. The servers and operator stations for the visualization of the plant are also located in this ring. For user administration and logon to the PCS7 operator stations, focus built a central solution that allows operators to log on to the control system operator stations using the company's own RFID cards. The solution uses SIMATIC LOGON in conjunction with a modular add-on that manages the assignment of operators to RFID cards. JCI required a separation of the office IT and the process network. Nevertheless, the system should be maintainable via remote maintenance over the internet as well as viewable via website from the office network. To meet this requirement, focus implemented a security solution based on SIMATIC SCALANCE S technology, which provides a user-specific firewall and thus only allows authorized users to access the process network. The conversion of the automation system took place during a plant shutdown phase and was successfully completed after just one week.

The project in compact

Recycling of lead acid batteries

  •     shaft furnace for recycling of automotive batteries
  •     refining of the recovered lead
  •     thermal post-combustion and filter systems for clean burning of the components
  •     control of the water-air cooling system
  •     environmentally friendly process and promotion of sustainability

Automation technology

  •     redundant PCS7 control system with SIMATIC AS 416-5H
  •     redundant Profibus system
  •     Ethernet with ring topology, monitoring by SCALANCE X216
  •     network security through SIMATIC SCALANCE S
  •     ten ET200M modules, coupling to further controllers
  •     SIMATIC rack PCs for the servers and the engineering station
  •     central user administration with standard RFID cards