Forging the Future in the Global Steel Industry


PREMIER Systems Integrators is a trend setting integration organization with more than 20 years experience creating custom system management networks for automated industrial facilities.  They recently completed a project that was massive in scope, size, and complexity for a global leader in steel manufacturing…and once again, they used ThinManager to tie it all together.

At a total cost of more than $1.4 billion dollars, the newly expanded facility they were tasked with modernizing employs 650 people and produces more than 6 million net tons of steel each year.

Because of the size of the project and harsh environment, which includes electric arc furnaces, ladle furnaces, slab casters, a strip mill, and hot dip lines, there were many factors to consider before implementation.  The facility has both a hot side and a cold side so they had to stay flexible with their architecture and deployment of hardware.  The customer needed to have as few people on the production deck as possible, especially around the furnace, because it is such a safety hazard.

The basic hardware system design has thin clients running the HMI applications from a pair of virtual Terminal Servers, which are retrieving the I/O information from the PLCs.  Most of the thin clients are located in the furnace control room, with a few others deployed in other locations to enable remote monitoring.  There are two physical servers with all the Wonderware objects on one server while the other is being used as a redundant backup.  In addition, they have a virtual domain controller and a virtual historian using the Wonderware Historian.

With so many different areas and systems, PREMIER decided to use ThinManager to manage the thin clients and make the environment more efficient for the employees.  They needed to deliver eight different HMI applications that are spread throughout the facility to more than fifteen thin clients.  Some of them are being used to run multiple sessions of the same applications.  Most of them use the ThinManager MultiMonitor feature because they have a lot of processes happening at the same time, so the operators and engineers usually have multiple sessions running.  Some even use a workstation where they have a virtual machine built for the maintenance staff to be able to troubleshoot. They have six IP cameras on one of the MultiMonitor systems that they keep pulled up and switch between that session and a Terminal Shadow that shadows a station in a pump house which is unmanned so they can monitor those cameras and use Terminal to Terminal Shadowing to switch between that and the pulpit in the furnace where they monitor the water system.  This eliminates the need to have two sessions running at two stations when one of them is always unmanned.

The customer was quick to appreciate the value ThinManager brought to their system management.  But we wanted to know what PREMIER Systems Integrators thought was the most useful feature in their newly designed system architecture.  “We think the MultiMonitor feature that allows multiple sessions to be on one screen is great.  To be able to monitor the PLCs and troubleshoot problems in real time is extremely useful.  This is the first time we have really used MultiMonitor that way. We usually just see a single monitor being used, so being able to monitor multiple sessions on one monitor is a real game changer,” said Larry Grate, Senior Engineer for PREMIER System Integrators.

Regardless of the environment or the scope of the project, the ThinManager Platform continues to impress both integrators and customers with its efficiency and ability to reduce mean time. And with each successful deployment, the reputation of “The Power of Thin” continues to grow.

Tom Jordan

Marketing Lead for ThinManager - A Rockwell Automation Technology