Follow the Leader of waste processing units
Lefort SA is a world leader within large mobile metal waste processing units. More than 85% of the machines are exported via worldwide subsidiaries.
The machines require highly advanced controls in order to process the waste effectively and under the highest safety precautions. For this purpose, Lefort has standardized on the Ecomat mobile PLCs from IFM electronics, which are designed for mobile use and operation in extreme environments. In order to optimize service response time and reduce travel costs, Lefort had a desire to be able to program the RS232 attached IFM controllers remotely for monitoring and adjusting the programs that control the sensors and motors.
When Lefort approached Secomea, they had already researched the market and tested several remote access solutions without success. None of the solutions were able to facilitate remote programming of the IFM controllers, because the IFM serial communication protocol by design is highly depending on a constant data transfer without delays. This is usually no problem when connecting directly from a PC to the controller, but running such a protocol over the Internet will usually make the communication highly unstable – if working at all.
The Secomea R&D team took on the challenge of adapting the Serial protocol logic in the Secomea SiteManager appliance to make it communicate with the IFM controller exactly as if it was connected locally, and still be able to relay the serial communication via the Internet. It was no easy task, especially as the Lefort machines are mobile and can only be accessed by wireless 3G/GPRS connections that add to the instability and delays of the connection.
Today Lefort can remotely program the IFM controllers via the Secomea SiteManager 3129 units equipped with 3G/GPRS USB modems, regardless of where in the world the machines are located. The programmer can even do it securely from his own laptop from any location; just by starting the Secomea LinkManager software client and the IFM serial communication software.