Dr William J Hill


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Airport Baggage Handling and Screening Consultant Dr WJ Hill



Past and present airport baggage handling projects, in a variety of roles, include:

AGP (Terminal 2)
AGP (Terminal 3)
ALC (Terminal 3)
ATH (Eleftherios Venizelos)
AUH (Terminal 3)
AUH (Transfer Baggage Facility)
AUH (Midfield Terminal Complex)
BBI (Berlin Brandenburg International)
BCN (Terminal 1)
BKK (Suvarnabhumi)
BRU (Terminal and Pier A)
DEL (Terminal 3)
DEL (Terminal 1D)
DOH (Doha International Airport)
DOH (Hamad International Airport)
DUR (King Shaka International Airport)
HYD (Rajiv Gandhi International Airport)
KUL (Kuala Lumpur International Airport)
LHR (Terminal 4)
LHR (Terminal 5)
LIS (Ota)
LIS (Terminals 1, 2 and 3, Portela)
MAD (Terminal 4)
MUC (Terminal 2)
SIN (Terminal 3)
SVO (Terminal 3/D)
SYD (Terminal 1)

A few projects are described in more detail below.


*  Athens International Airport


*  Brussels National Airport


*  Kuala Lumpur International Airport


*  Terminal 4, London Heathrow Airport


*  New Lisbon Airport


*  Portela Airport


*  Plan Barajas (Terminal 4 and Satellite), Madrid Airport


*  Terminal 2, Munich Airport


*  Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok


*  Torness Nuclear Power Station


*  Ceat Cavi


*  Nitro Nobel


*  ICI Films


Athens International Airport, Spata, Greece


From March 1999 to June 2002 W. Hill worked for Fraport AG (the owner and operator of Frankfurt Airport) and lived in Athens, Greece. He was seconded to Athens International Airport S.A. (AIA) to set-up and head the Airport Company’s Baggage Handling System & Services department, being responsible for operational readiness prior to opening and operation of the airport’s Baggage Handling System (BHS) and facilities after opening. W. Hill managed the BHS operations department (77 staff) and had budgetary responsibility for operating and capital expenditure.


In 2004 the Airport Company asked W. Hill to audit the company’s preparations with respect to hold baggage handling for the 2004 Olympic Games, and to suggest additional preparations.


Before Airport Opening


The operating concept for handling and screening, devised by W. Hill, defined responsible organisations, roles and staff numbers. He also specified the recruitment schedule, was responsible for the production of job specifications and a training plan, formulated recruitment advertisements, reviewed CVs and interviewed the applicants for senior positions.


W. Hill defined over 60 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) documents for baggage handling and screening alone, and wrote several to illustrate the format and detail required. Under his supervision two of his staff then wrote the remainder. Nine hundred pages were produced, to standardise and speed up the training of previously inexperienced operating staff, as well as other airport company departments, handling companies, airlines and State Authorities.


During the construction and commissioning phase, he chaired the regular Baggage Handling Working Group meetings attended by various AIA departments and the Contractor. The Working Group looked in detail at all areas of baggage handling and screening, including design of the facilities and systems, construction progress, testing, training, safety, maintenance and end-user trials. He defined requirements and functionality in several areas, and instigated several major enhancements and additions to the BHS and facilities. He also reviewed several of the Contractor’s design documents and drawings, and analysed baggage flows and system capacity.


During construction, W. Hill proposed and set standards for a functional testing programme for the BHS and explained to the Contractor the level of testing expected, and monitored this programme of tests. Over 150 witnessed tests were performed over a 5-month period, monitored by a large number of the BHS operating department’s staff. Over 800 detailed comments on the tests were produced and supplied to the Contractor for action and comment. Through comprehensive testing W. Hill also ensured that the BHS fire protection system and the emergency lighting in the baggage halls function correctly.


W. Hill also participated in the airport’s Flight Information System Workgroup and specified the functionality of the module for reclaim racetrack assignment.


The airport has state-of-the-art equipment for hold baggage screening (HBS). W. Hill devised the methodology and procedure for the technical evaluation of the tenders (bids) for the computed tomography screening equipment, and chaired the tender technical evaluation committee. He reviewed the specifications in the Instructions to Tenderers and participated in the evaluation of the tenders. W. Hill then held meetings with the Contractor and HBS equipment manufacturers regarding spares and support for the equipment, as well as equipment performance.


W. Hill participated in several of the Airport Company’s progress meetings with the Contractor’s senior management, and also participated in airport Taking Over meetings between the Airport Company and Contractor.


He participated in meetings with the IATA Airport Consultative Committee (ACC), briefing the committee on the facilities, functionality and progress, and discussing issues raised by the ACC. At the request of the ACC, he calculated the Minimum Connecting Time for transfer baggage. Because of concerns raised by the ACC and Airline Operators Committee (AOC) about the dimensions of the weighing conveyors and the volume of oversize baggage, W. Hill devised a survey of oversize baggage at Athens’ Hellinikon Airport in June and July 2000. Over three thousand bags on eighteen international flights were individually sized and the resulting report was submitted to IATA and to the AOC, proving that the new airport’s facilities are adequate. In response to a request by the AOC and the ACC, he prepared a scheme design for a stand-alone facility for the in-feed and screening of bulk baggage from cruise ships, checked-in off airport. This was considered by the Airport Company’s Board of Executives but rejected on cost grounds. He then devised a Standard Operating Procedure to cater for cruise ship baggage.


W. Hill briefed the airlines and handling companies on the facilities and systems for baggage handling and screening. He also liaised with the Greek Civil Aviation Authority regarding approval of these systems. During the Evaluation and Monitoring of Operational Readiness and Transfer (EMORAT) programme he participated actively in meetings with representatives from airlines, ground handling companies and Greek State Authorities. The facilities and systems for baggage handling and screening are very different from the earlier existing Athens airport at Hellinikon, hence operating procedures are different and these all had to be explained and discussed with the end users and the State Authorities. W. Hill also contacted all airlines (headquarters and local offices) and handlers informing them of the requirement for Baggage Source Messages and bar-coded bag tags in order to use the automated baggage handling system at the new airport (the airport at Hellinikon did not have automated sorting).


The EMORAT trials began on 3rd October 2000 and the use of the BHS was an important part of the trials. W. Hill devised the department’s strategy for trial operations (including recirculation of trial baggage, which was done by the department’s manual staff). He monitored the performance of the BHS and his staff during the trials. He also attended all the trial debriefing meetings, commented on BHS related issues at the debriefings and often assisted the EMORAT baggage handling representative to write the minutes of the meetings. He revised several SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) during the EMORAT trials period, and distributed a complete set of the SOPs to the handling companies. The trials were generally conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the BHS operating department often conducted internal testing and familiarisation on the intervening days. W. Hill chaired trial debriefing sessions with the BHS department’s staff to obtain information on the performance of the system. A night trial on 14 December highlighted a mains power supply problem and he participated in discussions and investigations with the Airport Engineering Department, construction management consultant and the Contractor to solve the problem.


W. Hill prepared and maintained a ‘punch list’ of BHS defects discovered during the EMORAT trials and attended weekly meetings with the Contractor to ensure that these were addressed. He also attended the weekly meetings chaired by AIA to discuss all airport outstanding items arising from the EMORAT trials, and briefed the Operational Readiness Steering Committee on matters relating to the BHS. He also instigated the construction of additional transfer in-feeds and manual coding lines before the airport opened, liaised with the Contractor and coordinated the works with the EMORAT trials programme. (Impressively, the BHS contractor installed and commissioned the new lines during the trial period without disruption to the trials, and the new lines were available in time for the opening of the airport, and immediately proved important.)


He monitored the Baggage Source Messages (BSMs) received by the BHS during the EMORAT trials and during the period leading up to the opening of the airport. He also contacted and liaised with numerous airlines to ensure that they would send BSMs so that automated sorting would be possible.


W. Hill participated in the selection of a contractor to provide a simulation model of the passenger terminal complex and the BHS. The resulting three-dimensional software model is, to Dr Hill’s knowledge, the most comprehensive airport simulation worldwide to date. He and his AIA analyst specified the requirements and outputs of the BHS model and supervised the production of the baggage handling part of the model. The resulting model is flight schedule driven and is an operational and planning tool as well as a means of checking the capacity of the terminals and BHS. He also ensured that the model included transfer in-feeds and manual coding lines (which can be enabled and disabled in the model) which were not yet installed, to study their benefit. W. Hill used the model to investigate several areas, including the capacity of the facilities for handling out-of-gauge (OOG) baggage and the expected hourly loading on the BHS in the first year of operation.


With regard to the tenders (bids) for ground handling concessions at the new airport, W. Hill prepared a section of the Request for Proposals for baggage handling agents and advised the Business Development Department. He also prepared a Baggage Trolley Concept.


W. Hill moved the BHS department’s staff to their final location in the Main Terminal Building on 10 November 2000, nearly 5 months before the airport opened. He planned the move and fitting out of all the new rooms and facilities to be used by the BHS department. This included procurement of all computers, furniture and fittings required for operations. He also introduced caged baggage storage areas for use by four handling companies, as well as training videos and manuals for their personnel to operate machine controls at check-in, reclaim, transfer and flight make-up positions.


He specified the protective work wear and custom designed overalls for his staff. He also liaised with the divisional shift-planning specialist to develop a shift plan in accordance with Greek labour legislation for the BHS staff, who he started working on shifts on 5 February 2001 so that 24-hour testing and familiarisation could take place.


He participated in meetings with a high-risk carrier, the U.S. FAA and others to establish SOPs for the handling of passengers and their hold baggage that satisfy the carriers and their governments’ security requirements.


W. Hill also ensured that static signs and safety measures in the baggage halls were completed. His staff manufactured many of these.


He was responsible for the production and installation of the Dangerous Goods / Film Safety notices at all check-in counters. He liaised with the architect in the design of the sign and frame, ensuring the sign includes a film safety warning because of the HBS Level 3 screening equipment, and his staff affixed the signs at all 144 check-in counters.


He met with the four handling companies to present and discuss the concept for make-up chute allocation and segregation by handler in the two baggage halls, and the use of fallback tags. He also supervised the production of software and a PECTAB for fallback tags which he issued with a user guide to the four handling companies and to the Airline Operators Committee, so that the handlers and airlines can produce fallback tags in their back offices.



After Airport Opening


The airport opened on 28 March 2001. W. Hill was heavily involved in monitoring the operation of the BHS and handlers in the first days of operation. The first four days were particularly hectic because of several sorter stoppages due to inappropriate baggage being fed into the BHS, and also teething problems with photoelectric cells, mechanical components and inter-computer communications.


He was a member of the Airport Opening Coordination Committee (OCC) and attended the numerous OCC meetings during the first days and weeks after opening. W. Hill also attended regular meetings between the Airport Company and the Airline Operators Committee, and with the handling companies. He also chaired regular coordination meetings with the handling company baggage services managers.


Some mechanical and software improvements to the BHS were needed, and W. Hill regularly assisted the Airport Engineering Department and the Contractor to implement these. Remedial works lists were made by AIA BHS Engineer Mr K. Maroudas and W. Hill, as the basis for the programme to improve system performance and reduce stoppages. W. Hill recommended an improvement of the control algorithm for Sorter start-up and for bag induction during screening line stoppages.


Because of the programme, system availability improved significantly in July 2001 and was excellent during the peak month of August 2001 and thereafter. W. Hill also arranged for a modification to the BHS dynamic simulation model to study the effect on the BHS steady state and transient capacity of another change to the induction algorithm by the contractor. To reduce unnecessary BHS stoppages even further, in 2002 he introduced gap-closing flaps between sorter trays to prevent any straps or bags getting between the trays.


Regarding flights transporting passengers en route to and from seaports for sea cruises, special hold baggage handling arrangements were made, based on discussion with airlines and handlers. For U.S. airlines, W. Hill devised a method to ensure that all hold baggage would automatically be routed to HBS Level 3 computed tomography screening machines, so as to satisfy U.S. Federal Aviation Administration requirements.


W. Hill allocated staff to monitor the performance of operations staff (airport company and third party handlers) with a view to making improvements in processes. Several areas were monitored, including container/cart break-down for arriving flights and the handling of OOG (out-of-gauge) baggage. The First Bag / Last Bag facility of the Baggage Information Display System (BIDS) was still not working correctly and he instigated a detailed survey of the facility which identified the shortcomings. As a result the facility functions correctly.


In an effort to increase the number of bag tags read by the automatic bar-code scanners, W. Hill commissioned a survey and report on the bags tags of the major airlines using the airport. He supplied this report to the Airline Operators Committee, individual airlines and handling companies, and discussed modifications to the tag design with some airlines and handlers to improve the read rate. He also commissioned leaflets for check-in staff with guidelines on the types of baggage that the BHS can handle and how to deal with straps, retractable handles, etc.


W. Hill designed simple signs to inform arriving passengers of the roles of the Airport Company and the ground handling companies, and to inform passengers of the names of the four handling companies and the existence of the Baggage Tracing counters manned by them in the reclaim halls. Additionally, he commissioned safety signs for the wall openings of the reclaim racetracks into the baggage reclaim halls.



2004 Olympic Games


The Airport Company requested W. Hill to visit the airport twice in 2004 in the run up to the Games, to review preparations and suggest other provisions. Apart from assessing the preparations and participating in meetings with various organisations, he predicted the peak quantity of baggage that the airport should expect to handle. To do this he used the operational simulation model of the BHS which he had been responsible for developing before the airport opened, and also made calculations using data from the 2000 Games in Sydney. The prediction was accurate: the actual peak amount fell within the predicted range. He also used the BHS simulation model to identify the bottlenecks during the peak day. The predicted departure and arrival flight schedules were used in the simulation model. The model was an extremely useful operational tool for such an important event.


W. Hill made several key suggestions, including advising the Airport Company how to ensure the provision of the additional TSA-certified screening machines needed to cope with the large volume of baggage on the peak day.


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Brussels National Airport, Zaventem, Belgium


From February to December 2003 W. Hill was retained by the consultancy arm of Flughafen München GmbH (Munich Airport) to advise and assist Brussels International Airport Company S.A. (BIAC) with operational matters pertaining to baggage handling. W. Hill was based at Brussels National Airport. He audited the existing baggage handling Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) documentation and proposed a new comprehensive list of SOPs and listed proposed sections and sub-sections for all the SOP documents. He also proposed a structure and format for the documents. W. Hill also advised BIAC on the structure and contents of the Baggage Handling Concept document that the company was preparing, and reviewed several drafts.


He also advised BIAC on a variety of other issues, including statistics reports for delivery of terminating baggage, and Baggage Source Message (BSM) transmission rates. He prepared a schematic diagram of the complete BHS (including the ‘Old Terminal’ and Pier A), which provides an overall picture of the baggage handling equipment.


W. Hill advised BIAC on the methodology for testing the replacement IT system for monitoring and control of the baggage handling system in the Main Terminal. He prepared a detailed Master Test Plan and specified the format and scope of test specification documents. He prepared some of the test specifications and participated in the tests. The onerous test programme, conducted overnight in order to avoid disrupting operations, was very useful in debugging the software, and contributed to the successful deployment of the new IT system in February 2004.


In 2004 BIAC and the two companies handling hold baggage at the airport (Belgian Ground Services and AviaPartner) requested the consultancy arm of Munich Airport to advise them how the new BHS under construction in the airport’s intra-Schengen pier (Pier A) might be operated. Munich Airport asked W. Hill for assistance, and he conceived and managed a study which included interviews and meetings with representatives from the three companies, timings of tug movements on the apron, and analysis of operational statistics provided by the companies. He wrote and submitted a comprehensive report to the three companies and presented the findings to them.


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Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Sepang, Malaysia


From October 1996 to January 1999 W. Hill lived in Malaysia and was part of a team responsible for the management of detailed design, construction and then operation of the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport, arguably the most attractive airport in the world. Up to the opening date he was employed by the Japanese consulting company Pacific Consultants International Ltd who were responsible for scheme design and construction management, and after the opening he was an employee of Kuala Lumpur International Airport Berhad (KLIAB), the company set up by the Malaysian government to specify and build the airport.


During the detailed design, construction and commissioning phases, he was the Consultant’s project manager responsible for supervision of the Contractor’s detailed design, construction and testing of the Passenger Check-in Processing System (PCPS) with 542 CUTE (Common Use Terminal Equipment) intelligent workstations, and BRS (Baggage Reconciliation System). He was also a senior consultant for the detailed design, construction and testing of the BHS (242 check-in counters; 10 sorters; 204 make-up chutes; 24 multi-purpose in-feed lines; 34 km conveying system; 4000 conveyors; 20,000 sensors; 50,000 bearings; 6,000 electrical motors; over 6,000 tonnes steel structure). W. Hill supervised the coordination of the interfaces between the PCPS, BHS, Flight Information Display System (FIDS), Building Management System (BMS) and airport Operational Data Base (ODB). He also liaised with the airlines regarding the message interface to the airport for baggage handling and reconciliation.


In addition to W. Hill’s input to the functional design of the PCPS, BHS and BRS (he introduced several unique and sophisticated functions), he was the Client’s representative for these systems at the Operational Readiness trials and the associated operational readiness meetings between the Airport Company, airlines, ground handling companies and government agencies.


Following the opening of the airport in June 1998, W. Hill joined KLIAB as Senior Manager for the BHS, PCPS and BRS, to assist with finalisation of claims and variations, tuning and improvements to the aforementioned systems, completion of outstanding works, and management of the BHS maintenance contract. He also continued in his liaison role with the Airport Company, airlines, ground handling companies and government agencies.


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Terminal 4, London Heathrow Airport, UK


From October 1994 to October 1996 W. Hill worked for the UK consulting firm WS Atkins Consultants Ltd, predominantly as lead consulting engineer (software and controls) advising and assisting Heathrow Airport Ltd on a project to replace and upgrade the existing baggage handling system in Terminal 4 at Heathrow Airport and, at the same time, include 100% HBS (hold baggage screening). He participated in the discussions with Heathrow Airport Ltd, BAA Group Technical Services, British Airways and the BHS contractor regarding the scheme design, and reviewed several of the contractor’s functional design specifications. After almost 2 years of planning and supervising of detailed functional design, the major upgrade did not proceed and the project was limited to the design and installation of integral 100% HBS. He was involved with the revised scheme design and witnessing of FATs (factory acceptance tests) for the control system.


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New Lisbon Airport, Ota, Portugal


In July 2002 W. Hill was commissioned by Parsons Group International, a member of the Parsons-Fase-Consulmar-Gapres Consorrtium (technical consultants to the New Lisbon Airport Company), to write the Baggage Handling System section of the document Proposed Minimum Technical Requirements for the new airport (16 million passengers per year) for Lisbon, to be constructed at a  future date (not yet decided) at Ota.


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Portela Airport, Lisbon, Portugal


In July 2003 W. Hill was commissioned by Cyrrus Associates, on behalf of their client Parsons Group International, to conduct a survey and assessment of the existing baggage handling systems at Portela Airport, and to review the intermediate and final designs proposed for integral 100% HBS (hold baggage screening). The remit was to assess and comment on the capacity and the proposed HBS solutions, and to make any other recommendations, technical and operational. His ability to speak Portuguese proved to be very useful during his 5-day survey of Portela Airport. His report was incorporated into a report for the complete airport, which was submitted by Parsons International to ANA Aeroportos de Portugal.


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Plan Barajas (Terminal 4 and Satellite), Madrid Airport, Spain


In 2002 W. Hill was commissioned by the consultancy arm of Flughafen München GmbH (Munich Airport) to advise the Spanish transport consulting company INECO on the operational readiness programme for the baggage handling system for the new terminal complex (35 million passengers per year) under construction at Madrid Airport. Apart from advising INECO on the tasks required, he also wrote the chapter on baggage handling in the Start-Up Manual supplied by Flughafen München GmbH to INECO. He also advised INECO and the Airport Authority AENA on the optimal location of the Level 3 HBS (hold baggage screening) machines from an operational point of view, and on the limitations of the proposed conveyor lines for terminating baggage from the new satellite building. His recommendation regarding the positioning of the Level 3 HBS machines was implemented for the HBS installation in the existing terminal building.


In 2003 he provided INECO with a plan of work for the operational readiness of the BHS, and a very detailed (58-page) operational readiness checklist.


Throughout 2004 W. Hill advised INECO and AENA on all aspects of operational readiness with respect to baggage handling. He devised and proposed the operational designation scheme for all BHS input and output positions (make-up racetracks, break-down docks, laterals, screening stations and so on) which was required by the developer to finalise static signs at those locations and for entry in the BHS SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system and sort allocation system. His knowledge of Spanish enabled him to participate in meetings held by these organisations, as well as to check translations of documents he had written and to review and comment on documents in Spanish from AENA, the developer Plan Barajas and the BHS contractor. He prepared numerous documents for INECO giving detailed technical and operational information based on his hands-on experience at other airports. W. Hill also made numerous operational and technical recommendations to INECO, AENA, Plan Barajas and the BHS contractor.


He continued to advise and assist these organisations in 2005 and 2006, and additionally participated in the regular meetings with Iberia regarding operational readiness. Advice covered, amongst other things, functionality, the planning of BHS acceptance tests, test protocols (including HBS), the scope and format of test specifications, protocols and planning of end-user trials, tub management, and standard operating procedures. W. Hill was a key participant in the end-user trials, monitoring and reporting on the functionality and performance of the baggage handling and screening facilities and systems, and on end-user operation.


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Terminal 2, Munich Airport, Germany


From November 2002 to January 2003 W. Hill advised and assisted Flughafen München GmbH (Munich Airport) with the planning and execution of the end-user trial operation of the Baggage Handling System (BHS) in Terminal 2 at Munich Airport, which opened in June 2003. The Terminal 2 BHS is the first installation of the CrisBag technology (132 check-in counters; 40 km conveying tracks, 19,000 motors, 6000 totes). He formulated the methodology for the baggage trials, including the quantity of baggage, its distribution, the procedure for feeding baggage into the system, and the method of recording and analysing results. He also observed and assisted during the first trials in January 2003.


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Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok


In 2004 W. Hill was retained by the consultancy arm of Flughafen München GmbH (Munich Airport) to assist them on matters pertaining to hold baggage handling in their capacity as operational readiness advisors to the NBIA (New Bangkok International Airport) Company, the developer of the new 45 million passenger per year airport for Bangkok, Thailand.


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Torness Nuclear Power Station, Scotland


From 1985 to 1990 W. Hill worked for Digital Applications International Ltd as a software engineer and later senior software engineer on a number of industrial automation and control projects. The biggest of these – lasting some three years – was the writing, testing and commissioning of the automatic control software for the twin unit nuclear power station at Torness near Dunbar, East Lothian (2 x 660 Megawatts electrical).


He was a member of the team writing the automatic control software, and later in the project he became team leader. The functional design of the control software was done by NNC Ltd, and the team coded the real-time software in CORAL, using software libraries specially developed in-house to enable the engineering notation on the flow diagrams to be used in the software’s source code instead of the numeric data base tags required by the Ferranti Process Management System (a distributed control system developed by Ferranti Computer Systems Ltd). The team also used software ‘test harnesses’, specially developed in-house, to perform automated testing of the software prior to delivery to site for site acceptance testing.


W. Hill was also commissioning engineer, taking the software to site, installing it and assisting NNC Ltd with the site acceptance testing. Some of the contributions he made to the Torness project were the creation of a program identifier cross referencing tool to ensure consistency between control programs, the automation of the operator for building the automatic control software ‘super system’, and the use of an analytic redundancy algorithm to cater for thermocouple failure in the once-through boilers in order to avoid unnecessary reactor trips.


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Ceat Cavi, Settimo, Italy


From 1990 to 1994 W. Hill worked for Eurotherm Controls Ltd as a Systems Consultant, focusing on the sales and engineering of projects using Eurotherm Control’s products: the PC3000, an industrial real-time controller similar to a PLC (programmable logic controller) but with enhanced analogue control abilities and more sophisticated programming concepts; Production Orchestrator and Cell Controller, PC-based CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing) software tools. These three products use IEC 1131 object oriented programming methods: Sequential Function Charts, Structured Text and Function Blocks.


Ceat Cavi is a cable manufacturer producing fibre optic cables for a number of uses. Colouring Line No. 1 is used to coat an optical fibre with a coloured dye for identification purposes. This is the first stage in the production of either ribbon fibre cable or multi-core fibre cable for the Italian telecommunications industry. Ceat Cavi commissioned Eurotherm Controls Ltd to provide a QMS (Quality Monitoring System) for this Line.


The QMS was designed, implemented and commissioned by W. Hill, and consists of a PC running Production Orchestrator, communicating with a PC3000 rack containing two 8-channel analogue input modules, one 14-channel 24 Volt DC digital input module, one 14-channel contact closure input module and one 12-channel relay module.


The QMS samples five process variables: bare diameter, coloured diameter, unwind tension, intermediate tension (i.e. between pay-off and rewind reels), and rewind tension. These five process variables are obtained from analogue retransmissions from existing instrumentation on the Line. In addition, the QMS samples pulses from a proximity switch next to a spoked wheel in order to derive fibre length and speed (nominally 100 metres per minute).


The nominal bare and coloured fibre diameters are circa 250 and 266 microns respectively. The nominal unwind, intermediate and rewind fibre tensions are 35, 48 and 50 grams force respectively.


A batch is defined by Ceat Cavi as a single reel, usually containing 6.4 km of fibre, but in some cases up to 13 km.


Using the sampled process variables, the QMS calculates, in real time, diameter and tension statistics (mean, variance, maximum and minimum) for each 100 metre ‘chunk’ of fibre within each batch.  These chunk statistics are displayed on the Production Orchestrator in numerical form (horizontal representation of the relational database table so that the user can scroll along the fibre). The mean diameter and tension values are also available in trend chart form, i.e. diameters and tensions vs. chunk. The trend charts also display the highest maximum value for a batch thus far (and likewise the lowest minimum value). The trend charts’ y-axis is auto-scaling. The user can zoom in/out and scroll along the fibre.


The QMS generates absolute and deviation alarms for the diameters, tensions and speed. The QMS also monitors other events (batch start, batch end, alarm buffer overflow, alarm buffer OK). The QMS alerts the user if an alarm condition has occurred, using alarm icons on the Production Orchestrator and also an audible/visible alarm from the PC3000, and logs alarms and events in the relational database with corresponding fibre position on a batch basis. Alarms and events are displayed on a scrollable Alarm Log screen on the Production Orchestrator.


The QMS has three user access levels with ID and password protection, a Line mimic, and a PC3000 health screen. Alarm parameters can be defined via a Production Orchestrator screen, and the QMS periodically ensures that the alarm parameters are the same in the Production Orchestrator database and in the PC3000.


The QMS also allows the user to view batch data for previous batches using the same screen formats as for the current batch.


Ceat Cavi specified a 5 millisecond sampling/logging interval for the diameters and a 100 millisecond  sampling/logging interval for the tensions. The 5 millisecond sampling rate meant that the diameter gauges’ analogue retransmission has to be used: the 9600 baud serial communications ports on the diameter gauges are not fast enough.


To cater for the high speed 5 millisecond requirement, W. Hill created a custom function block for the PC3000. He wrote and tested it on the Production Orchestrator before building it to run in the PC3000. The custom function block calculates the fibre speed, the length since the start of a batch, the alarm states of the five measured variables and one derived variable (speed), and packs the alarm type and length at which the alarm occurred into a pair of communications alarm buffers (two buffers are required due to the high sampling rate – one buffer being filled by the PC3000 while the other is read by the Production Orchestrator).


The Functional Specification document was started on 15 August 1991 and the commissioned system was handed over to Ceat Cavi at Settimo on 20 December 1991. The QMS was modified in the first half of 1992 to allow Ceat Cavi to enter a nominal diameter value on the Production Orchestrator so that absolute diameter values are displayed, rather than error values (each diameter gauge’s analogue retransmission is a diameter error signal, not an absolute diameter signal).


The QMS is much more accurate than the individual instrumentation indicators on the Line. For example, at one point during commissioning the QMS showed an average unwind tension of 19 grams force with a variance of 35 grams force2, maximum of 41 grams force and minimum of 5 grams force. The tension gauge’s display, however, indicated no changes in the tension. Looking closely at the fibre, it appeared to be snagging periodically – it transpired that there was a fault with the rewind motor.


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Nitro Nobel, Gyttorp, Sweden


From November 1993 to October 1994 W. Hill designed, implemented and commissioned the automatic control system for Nonel Line 1 at the Nitro Nobel factory, Gyttorp, Sweden. The project started whilst he was working for Eurotherm Controls Ltd and was completed on a freelance basis after Eurotherm Controls Ltd closed its Systems Division. The control system was sub-contracted to Eurotherm Controls Ltd by Biwater Machinery Ltd, the manufacturer of the extruders, capstans, dancers, accumulators, take-up reels and other equipment on the production line.


The GBP 1 million (1994) Biwater Machinery extrusion line is used to manufacture non-electric detonator fuse, used worldwide for commercial blasting.


The three-extruder line produces plastic tubing with an explosive coating on the internal circumference of the tube. A Eurotherm Controls PC3000 process controller forms the main ECS (Extrusion Control System). Five SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) computers running the Wizcon SCADA package are interfaced to the ECS to provide operator interfaces. A second PC3000 process controller, the DCS (Dosing Control System), operates an explosive dosing robot and bunker, and a third PC3000 process controller acts as a communications buffer between the ECS and three of the five SCADA computers.


The ECS is a four-rack system which provides PID (proportional, integral and derivative) control of 24 temperature zones, diameter control, line speed control, accumulator control, start up and shut down sequencing, alarm monitoring, job batch management (including recipes) and various other tasks. The control and monitoring equipment interfaced to the ECS includes a Durant Counter (Take Up), eleven Eurotherm 590 and 591 drives, a Eurotherm 808 controller (Relaxation Accumulator heater), and the DCS.


The DCS is a single-rack system which provides 2-loop PID cascade control of explosive powder dosing rate, sequencing of two robots including start up and shut down, digital communications with Mettler weigh scales and with an optical ‘core fill’ detector, monitoring of an ignition detector, control of the explosives bunker door, and alarm monitoring. Nitro Nobel carried out the functional design of the DCS, a colleague of W. Hill’s wrote the DCS PC3000 software, and W. Hill carried out the DCS commissioning and various software modifications.


One of the SCADA computers is located in the plant office and the other four SCADA computers are located along the production line.


One of the benefits of the control system is that it automates the complex start up and shut down procedure for the production line. According to Nitro Nobel, the control system enables new operators to be trained to use the production line in three days instead of the one month it took for the pilot plant.


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ICI Films, Dumfries, Scotland


From January to October 1993 W. Hill designed, implemented with a team of SCADA package configuration engineers under his direction, and commissioned the LMS (Line Monitoring System): a plant-wide SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system for the Melinex 2 plant at the ICI Films factory, Dumfries, Scotland, producing film for video tape. This was the largest SCADA system implemented by Eurotherm Controls Ltd.


Two networked SCADA computers in the plant Monitor Room are linked to a SCADA computer on each of the Melinex plant’s production lines Line 21, Line 22A and Line 25, and to a PC3000 process controller on Line 22 (the pelletiser line).  The Line 21 SCADA computer is interfaced to three Eurotherm Controls Ltd EM-1 process controllers; the Line 22A SCADA computer is interfaced to one Eurotherm Controls Ltd PC3000 process controller and two EM-1 process controllers; the Line 25 SCADA computer is interfaced to one Eurotherm Controls Ltd EM-1 process controller.


The main features of the SCADA system include: local and remote communications to PC3000 and EM-1 process controllers; display of data on plant mimics and summary screens; dynamic alarm graphics; annunciation of alarms on screen and on an Active Alarm screen; data logging; charts and data log/event reports; recipes (storage of multiple configurations of set-points); changing individual set-points; global acknowledge of alarms and events; health status of individual process controllers and their inputs/outputs; archiving and housekeeping.


Each production line includes co-extruder and mono-extruder barrels, outlet flanges, thermex boilers and filters, melt and branch pipe assemblies, die zones, casting drums, take-off rolls, dancers, slow nips, pre-heat rolls, cooling rolls, fast nips, coaters, direct gravure, stenters and wind-ups.


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