Controls and HMI

All areas and levels of control engineering needs are met through MEL's simulation quality assurance. Control projects are executed at the highest possible levels of quality.

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Automation Migration

Control systems provide the leverage necessary improve yields, increase throughput, reduce energy usage and achieve more uniform product quality. However, as older control systems are phased out, it is important to ensure a smooth and risk-free migration.

MEL has performed control system migrations in both power, and pulp and paper industries, facilitating seamless migrations using virtual startups with minimum risks and maximum quality. MEL has experience with major DCS platforms and will offer complete assistance from the feasibility studies through the entire lifecycle of the migration project.MEL has experience with major DCS platforms and will offer complete assistance, from the feasibility study through the lifecycle of the migration project.

Our proven approach of simulation-based quality assurance provides confidence that all the project goals are successfully met.

MEL provides:

  1. Feasibility Studies - Feasibility studies and financial analysis on migration projects for boiler systems or complete plants
  2. Development of Bid Packages - Bid package development and RFQ.
  3. Control Architectures - We provide experts and resources needed to lay out the backbone of the migration and the proper foundation for the migration process.
  4. Systems integration and programming - EthernetIP, OPC, field bus technology, DCS configuration and PLC programming, with cross-product compatibility.
  5. Control System Virtual Startup - Virtual startup allows engineers, operators and supervisors to run new systems without real risk. This allows for complete troubleshooting and HMI validation before any on-site installation.
  6. Commissioning support - With safety as a top priority, MEL handles loop checks, startup, hot cutovers and more.
  7. Complete simulator training - Training with process simulators that allow team members to fully understand control systems prior to on-site installation and ensure that operators test the new HMI and control systems in a risk-free environment.
  8. Maintenance and Improvement - Monitoring and testing through real-time data and simulations to identify opportunities for improvement. In the case of an unexpected event, we'll dispatch qualified experts to get production back on track immediately.

System Design

MEL is a talented team of control system engineers, programmers and software developers focused on designing the most cost-effective solutions to meet project requirements. MEL solutions span all major DCS and PLC systems, SCADA systems, system integration and plant-to-business tools.

Our services include

  • Control System Design
  • DCS configuration
  • PLC & RTU Programming
  • HMI Development
  • Data Acquisition System (SCADA)
  • Production Monitoring, Reporting & Data Collection (MS_SQL & ASP.NET)
  • VFD Programming
  • Control Panel Design and Build

The MEL team is composed of competent and motivated problem-solvers who have many years experience providing solutions to such notable companies as Dominion, IP, JEA, and Siemens.

SIL Systems

Highly reliable safety systems can improve plant uptime, reduce ownership costs and ensure regulatory compliance when applied to power boiler and recovery boiler BMS applications.

MEL evaluates and engineers up to SIL 3 BMS solutions that meet the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 85 & 86 standards based on extensive experience and well-established NFPA rules.

HMI Optimization

The Human Machine Interface (HMI) is one of the most important aspects of a modern DCS system. A well-configured system can operate at its peak performance only if its operators are well-trained and well-informed. The latter point is the job of the HMI graphics.

A significant amount of down time can be attributed to poor HMI design. In fact, many serious accidents have been traced back to a poorly designed HMI that allowed a process to run out of control before an operator knew there was a problem.

It is all too easy with the graphical capabilities of today's HMIs to create disorganized, overstimulating graphics scattered with all the available information. It is likely, however, that such graphics are more distracting than informing. Too many colors, flashing lights, animations, and other graphical elements can serve to hide the most important information.

The other extreme is overly simple graphics. A graphic that looks like a P&ID with relevant values placed in the appropriate places seems straightforward, but it may not draw attention to key process variables. In order to control a process safely and efficiently, the operator must have the important information presented in a straightforward and organized way that highlights the most critical data, while providing less essential information only when needed.

MEL is experienced in the development of high-performance HMI graphics from start to finish. The first step is to determine the goals and objectives of the HMI and the appropriate information and controls necessary to achieve these results. Next, we design the graphics based on standardized principles that present the information and controls in the most useful and straightforward way possible.

In addition, MEL's ability to simulate your process in-house means that all graphics will be as close to complete and fully functional as possible upon delivery. This means you can be up and running with your new graphics as soon as possible with improved productivity and safety.

Alarm Management

An audible and/or visible means of indicating to the operator an equipment malfunction, process deviation, or abnormal condition requiring a response.

ISA-18.2 definition of an Alarm

Operators often get flooded with typical alarm systems to a point at which a majority of the alarms are ignored and the ability to manage a plant incident quickly is compromised.

Typical alarm systems may flood operators with alarms and notifications, to the point where a majority are automatically ignored, compromising the operator’s ability to quickly identify and respond to plant incidents.

The key principles of alarm management should be:

  1. Alarms should direct the operator's attention towards plant conditions requiring timely assessment or action.
  2. Alarms should alert, inform and guide required operator action.
  3. Every alarm should be useful and relevant to the operator and have a defined response.
  4. Alarm levels should be set such that the operators have sufficient time to carry out their defined response before the plant condition escalates.
  5. The alarm system should accommodate human capabilities and limitations.

MEL has facilitated management of HMI and alarm systems in the power industry to an optimal level.

Virtual Startup

By simulating the operations of new or retrofitted plants, prior to first-time start-up, we gain the opportunity to test complex system logic and improve controls before going on-line. Virtual startup avoids the risk of costly equipment damage, personal injury, or delays due to untested control configurations.

A project flow diagram that contrasts the difference between conventional project execution and MEL's virtual startup project. Prior to on-site commissioning, all software is completed and validated, and the operators receive realistic training.


MEL's commissioning services are available to meet your critical system needs. Support is available for new applications as well as for re-commissioning services or "return to service" of equipment.

MEL's commissioning services include:

  • Project management
  • Loop checks
  • Configuration improvement
  • Functional testing
  • Control tuning and sensor correlation
  • Performance verification and documentation
  • Optimized system performance