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The Best Solution to an Automation Challenge is Often Not Found Within the Original Scope


At Hargrove Controls & Automation, one of the most important things we do is listen; we are committed to understanding our clients’ goals and challenges and how the automation project at hand fits into the bigger picture of their business objectives. What does project success look like to you? What will that success be measured by? Often it is not found within the original project scope criteria passed across the table.

Hargrove’s Team of custom software developers and system integrators begin projects by having a deep discussion with our client’s team to understand their operational concerns and goals. This collaboration stage proves invaluable, leading to the best possible solutions for our clients.

To earn the title of Control Engineering’s 2022 System Integrator of the Year, Hargrove Controls + Automation submitted detailed documentation of project success stories and customer references to demonstrate our commitment to customer satisfaction. Here, we are sharing highlights from one of those project success stories in which we innovated a custom simplified batch solution for a chemical company.

A Custom Simplified Batch Solution


One of our Team’s strengths is our batch programming capabilities, especially in the chemical, pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. While we do offer full-scale robust batch processing solutions, sometimes a simplified batch strategy is a better fit for the needs of the process. Such was the case for a major chemical company looking to add a new process unit to an existing operating plant. In addition to the new batch unit process, the project included clean in place (CIP) and steam in place (SIP) systems, including more than 60 types of software package interfaces to integrate for process efficiency. Because the facility was a 24/7 operation, cold and hot commissioning (water batching) had to be executed without affecting other facility operations. For this standalone system, the required batching did not involve a large number of ingredients, pieces of equipment, or the need for multiple routes for the vessels requiring multiple options.

In this case, a full-scale batch solution would have been overkill in terms of maintenance, troubleshooting and long-term cost. The challenge was to radically reduce and simplify the operations and execution time needed to command the process through the different units.


The Hargrove Team custom-designed a batch configuration solution in accordance with ISA S88 Guidelines. The entire new unit, CIP, and SIP were built using Sequential Function Charts (SFC) tied together with unit procedures and operations to ensure repeatability and traceability. Batch record-keeping included an AspenTech IP21 historian interface allowing data to be shared with the plant information management system (PIMS) for business unit statistical production data.

Some unique components of this design were development of a custom Add-On Instruction (AOI), global object, and faceplates for a state machine. This allowed for modularization and efficient repeatability of common elements, making it possible to acquire and control an entire vessel to a requested state in a single command, instead of directly addressing individual devices, through the SFC. This also allowed for a predefined alarm when a state wasn’t reached due to failure of the end device. Once the state machine was initially configured, states could be added or modified from the detailed faceplate, enabling more efficient and streamlined program execution.

To ensure full compliance with client requirements and functionality of all existing interfaces, the commissioning effort was a challenging 20 weeks comprised of hardware and software testing, full functionality testing with batch reporting (by means of water batching), and finally raw materials product batching. This used smaller batches initially to allow for system tuning and optimization, ramping up to full production, and successful implementation.


Our Team’s integration of multiple software interfaces to achieve efficient centralized command reduced our client’s upfront purchase requirements. The user-friendly command from the simplified interface requires no specialized operator training or a process engineer to monitor and operate the system. The long-term total cost of ownership (TCO) for our client is reduced with fewer annual licensing purchase requirements and less technical support required.

How Can Hargrove Controls & Automation Help Your Team?

Please reach out to learn more about how our Hargrove’s Controls & Automation Team can help you optimize batch processing. Our depth of knowledge across both engineering and automation disciplines guides us in making smart project decisions to help our clients benefit from tools and practices at the forefront of technology.

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