Does Occam’s Razor apply to modern control solutions?

Does Occam’s Razor apply to modern control solutions?

Some 800 years ago, English philosopher William of Ockham developed a principle giving precedence to simplicity. Called Occam’s Razor, his problem-solving principle is that in the event of two competing solutions, the simpler one is preferable. It is sometimes expressed as “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.”

Putting this into a modern context, not every project needs a complex and expensive control solution. This is particularly true of retrofit projects. What is important is that the solution fits the space, the budget and the timescale of the client. Moreover, the more complex the solution, the harder it is to maintain and service, particularly at a remote location. Providing reliable automation solutions is where control supplier IMO Precision Controls come into their own.

Dam Control Solution

Since its construction in 2004, the Alaco Dam located in Calabria, southern Italy has used the original control system. However, over time, they have experienced issues with many of the components fitted at the time of its construction. Also, they were starting to experience control issues with the water valves at the bottom of the dam wall.

The owner called in an established local system integrator to develop a proposal to modernise the control system. They in turn approached IMO Automazione in Italy for technical advice, and to assist in the development of a control solution.

To provide the needed reliability and control, they decided that the controls needed an overhaul and updating. Their recommendation was to use the IMO  i3A intelligent controller, working in conjunction with an iView Advanced HMI. The i3A controller combines a PLC, HMI and OpenBus communications technology into a single, easy-to-mount unit. Its design matches requirements for both process control and factory automation applications.

Installation of the i3A controllers was near valves at the base of the dam, with Ethernet communication to the iView HMI in the control room. A computer stores all historical information about the dam operation and  positioning alarms.

iView hi-res touch screen HMI models range from 4.3” to 15”, and applications from basic to the complex and demanding. The compact design offers communication and data logging via USB, Ethernet, Serial ports and removable media ports. Its IoT functionality also allows secure remote connectivity. Other functions include Trending, XY Graph, Alarm Monitoring and Time Scheduling. iView also supports recipes, alarms, data loggers and operation logging.

According to the lead engineer. “This particular project was not only completed ahead of schedule but most efficiently and cost-effectively. This has given us the competitive edge needed to succeed.”


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