Terminal-Andrae Provided the Power and Control Wiring for the Installation of a Malting House's Coge

Electrical Contractor August 1991

Automation Helps Contractor Expand Business

Computers, ladder logic, operator interfaces/ and documentation software may gradually replace the wire strippers and pliers at one Milwaukee contracting company.

Automation is fast becoming an essential component of manufacturing. It has been proven to increase production and enhance product consistency. So, like many other electrical contractors and engineers, the 111-year-old, Milwaukee-based Terminal-Andrae has found itself doing more and more automation work and becoming increasingly involved in the development of its manufacturing customers' actual production process.

"Whereas before we worked exclusively with wire strippers and pliers and wire cutters, now we are increasingly using computers, ladder logic, operator interfaces, and documentation software to do programming that solves our customers' control problems," says J. Patrick Loftus, project engineer for Terminal-Andrae.

Terminal-Andrae is an $8 to $10 million contractor. Its roots are firmly ground in the electrical contracting field.

Ground loops can be avoided simply by improving grounding. Use large cables that can handle high frequency noise. Make sure there is only one point to the ground, rather than multiple ground points. Also, make certain that you specify a solid object for grounding, such as steel girder or cold water pipe.

Educating Customers

Terminal-Andrae has developed automation systems for a variety of clients, including steel fabricators, concrete dye mixers, food manufacturers, pulp and paper manufacturers, and product distributors. For all clients, no matter what the industry, Loftus stresses that in each case:

  •  All employees who use the automated system be trained to understand how it works
  • Spare hardware must be available;
  • Detailed documentation of software must be provided so the customer can maintain the manufacturing system. This is the road map to how the software works. Without it, small problems become large ones.
  • When possible, the programming for an automated system should be backed up by an EE-PROM microchip, which is about the size of a half dollar. The operator of the equipment can easily install a new chip in the event of a glitch;
  • The manufacturing system must be designed in such a way that the manufacturing equipment can still be operated manually.

For electricians and engineers considering the field of industrial automation, Loftus offers words of encouragement.

"The PLCs used in manufacturing are designed for someone with an electrician's experience. The ladder logic of the PLCs is even derived from wiring schematics. It's a great field, a natural for electrical contractors. Industrial automation is really the wave of the future."

Contact the Milwaukee electrical engineers at Terminal Andrae to learn more about our process automation for manufacturing services.

Return to News

Terminal-Andrae Electrical Contractors & Engineers