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How can industrial automation improve safety in dangerous professions?

Industry - Fire Service, Pumps

Summary: Having the most reliable and advanced possible technology can be key to fighting fires safely.  Marcé Fire Fighting Technology, the largest manufacturer of firefighting vehicles in Southern Africa, is dedicated to bringing valuable technological advances to their designs, including automating their equipment.  They standardized the Namibia Airports Company ARFF fleet with Unitronics PLC+HMI all-in-one controllers, offering reliable control with an easy to use interface.

“I can say that after a day learning the PLC programming … I don’t regret making the decision in using Unitronics products as we take the technological step forward in firefighting applications.”

Marcé Fire Fighting Technology, based in Centurion in the Gauteng Province of South Africa, is Southern Africa’s largest manufacturer of firefighting vehicles.  They have produced hundreds of vehicles over the over 20 years the company has been in service, as well as offering other small equipment, vehicle refurbishments and asset management services.  Given the difficult and often dangerous nature of firefighting, Marcé strives to provide 100% customer satisfaction, so their customers have one less thing to worry about.

One of these customers is the Namibia Airports Company; Marcé is the first company on the African continent to manufacture all of their Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) vehicles.  These vehicles need an onboard control platform that can control both day to day operations and full pump and engine operations in a crisis situation.  The reliability of this control system was a top priority to ensure the safety of users in the field.

Marcé Fire Fighting Technology installed a control solution using Unitronics all-in-one programmable controllers with integrated HMI panels.   These PLCs are installed in each truck’s cab, where the touchscreen HMI panel makes it easy for the driver or other personnel to access the system.  The operators can view the current foam and water levels, select or adjust the ratio of foam to water and turn the spray on and off as needed.  The PLC controls the pumps to release water and foam and monitors pressure levels.  It also controls peripheral features of the truck, such as the lights and sirens.

Marcé liked Unitronics PLCs because they were highly reliable and the large integrated HMIs make the control system easy to use, even in a high pressure situation.  Moreover, Unitronics all-in-one design simplifies the PLC programming and configuration.  Marcé’s IT manager explains “At first I was hesitant in…having to go through the labor pains or making something new work and fit into what our clients demand from the vehicle.  I can say that after a day learning the PLC programming … I don’t regret making the decision in using Unitronics products as we take the technological step forward in firefighting applications.”  The ladder logic, HMI design and communications are all programmed in a single software environment and Unitronics offers a full suite of advanced utilities for data logging, remote access and more.  Unitronics industry leading technical support engineers were available every step of the product development and deployment to answer questions and solve problems.

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