Until that time, Norcimbus had been open to just about any brand of PLC. It had worked with other suppliers, but a spate of difficulties found that they were unavailable to provide needed assistance. With Siemens on hand, however, to help and guide, it quickly became the obvious, and better, choice for Norcimbus. “In one case,” recalls Norcimbus president and founder John Wheeler, “we used another vendors touchscreen, and then found it was not upgradable. Not only were they unable to give us the support we needed locally, but they also wanted to charge us for the upgrades that were needed!”
To support the old, develop the new
Product and support inadequacies grew and more customers requested Siemens hardware as Siemens was introducing its S7-1200 Series PLC and its cutting-edge TIA Portal engineering software tool. “Since then, we have been slowly migrating all our gas cabinets and VMBs to a Siemens platform,” says Brian Ebert, Norcimbus’ chief operations officer. “The success of those conversions, coupled with the high level of support and service we got from Siemens, prompted us to look hard at integrating its products into all our lines. Our customers’ confidence in our PLC-based products has to be high, and with the Siemens platform, it became a lot easier to sell our products around the world.”
Norcimbus clean room technicians assemble high purity gas panels that come in a variety of manual, automated, or semi-automated formats.
Most recently, Norcimbus has put the Siemens automation platform at the core of its newest product, the NC Series universal gas systems controller. The device, which can be used to populate new builds or upgrade legacy control, is outfitted with a Siemens S7-1200 PLC and either a 4- or 7-inch. Siemens HMI Comfort Panel. The displays are equipped with Pack-and-Go and backup/restore features that allow modifications to be made quickly in the field, cutting time and service call costs because changes can be emailed or delivered overnight. Flexible and scalable, the universal controller is easy to use and offers open communication to SCADA systems. The new product family includes five models from NC1 through NC5 and can be upgraded or downscaled according to the required level of control.
The modular controller can be retrofit to virtually any gas cabinet. “We see a great need for this type of product,” says Wheeler. “The PLCs in a lot of existing equipment are aging, control systems in them are failing, and replacement parts are often unavailable or the supplier no longer supports the product. Owners face completely replacing a $40,000 installation that performs well except for the controller. Now we can give them that component, plus new features and functions at a competitive price. It is much more cost effective to upgrade an existing system than to install a totally new one.”
The Siemens platform in Norcimbus’ new products and its existing systems has given the company countless capabilities it could not achieve with the other brand. Ebert calls the new universal controller the way of the future. “The confidence we’re gaining with the Siemens equipment is allowing us to tackle more than gas cabinet upgrades. With the universal controller, we can upgrade aging, legacy equipment and also build new state-of-the-art systems.”