System cabling concept shortens conversion time to a new control system


Polystyrene granules  

Trinseo's product range includes thermoplastic resins such as polystyrene

  • The 30-plus year old control system in a plastics plant needed to be replaced with a modern solution.
  • A well thought out system cabling concept ensures fast and error-free transfer of field signals to the control cabinets of the new ABB system.
  • Following plausibility checks, just one signal per adapter needs to be checked at random.

Customer profile

Trinseo site in Tessenderlo  

Trinseo site in Tessenderlo

As a subsidiary of materials manufacturer Trinseo, Trinseo Plastics concentrates on specialized polymer solutions.

The product range comprises a wide variety of thermoplastic resins. These include materials made from polystyrene, which is produced at the Tessenderlo site in Belgium.


Global Process Control Engineer Wim van Drongelen  

Wim van Drongelen is responsible for retrofitting all the sites

The control technology used up until now in the production plants at Trinseo was commissioned in 1984. When it became apparent that it would soon no longer be possible to obtain spare parts, the management team decided that it was time to modernize.

As part of this optimization project, the control system used up until now at all the company's sites is being replaced. Global Process Control Engineer Wim van Drongelen was tasked with planning the modernization of the control system.

Together with system cabling specialists from Phoenix Contact he created and implemented a sustainable solution concept. A future-oriented approach must meet the following requirements:

  • Retain the existing field wiring
  • Rapid conversion of the individual sites
  • Reduction in the number of I/O tests required
  • Implementation of a zero defect strategy
  • Minimization of conversion costs


Pre-installed control system cabinet  

Control system cabinet with VIP termination boards and connected system cables

The new control system used by Trinseo is the S800 from ABB, the I/O cards of which are connected to field signals via single wires. In order to be able to carry out retrofitting quickly and without errors, the company is using passive termination boards from the VARIOFACE Professional VIP series on the I/O side, which convert control signals 1:1 to a high-position connector.

The modules feature a compact and robust design. The connectors for the VIP system cables are also robust, as they are molded in a special production process. There is therefore no risk of damage to the individual wires during mounting.

The challenge was to also equip the terminal strips on the field side with a high-position connector. For the first time, terminal adapters were used to do this; they were mounted directly on the terminal strips in place of the single wires. Here special consideration needed to be given to the conditions at the existing installation as well as avoiding errors. Versions were therefore created for single and double-level terminal blocks as well as mounting on the left and right. Color coding ensures easier assignment and faster system testing.

For practical testing, the concept was initially verified and optimized in a mini-plant system. The one-year conversion phase then commenced. “We had 2500 I/O signals to migrate,” explains Wim van Drongelen. “All signals had to be acquired and structured according to the new concept. The I/O control cabinets, including the software, were then produced and supplied within eight months.”

After setting up the control cabinets for the control system and removing the old single wires, the terminal adapters were mounted and the previously laid system cables were connected. Due to the structured system design, 100 percent checks on the signals were not required following the plausibility checks. Just one signal per adapter needed to be checked at random.


Thanks to the use of adapter solutions generated for the specific system as well as standard components from the Phoenix Contact system cabling portfolio, Trinseo has now implemented the control technology in a clear and structured way.

Terminal adapters, pre-assembled system cables, and passive termination boards are combined with the pre-installed control cabinets, enabling the control system to be replaced quickly and without errors. The number of I/Os that needed to be tested was reduced to 15 to 20 percent. That shortened the conversion stage including stress test by two weeks and resulted in lower costs. In addition, production could be resumed sooner.


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