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H. Lewis and Mary H. Kirkpatrick Automation and Control Laboratory

The Mining Automation and Control Laboratory provides an outstanding resource for teaching project-oriented classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and for supporting faculty research.  The laboratory is equipped with nine Allen-Bradley programmable-automation-controller (PAC) workstations and state-of-the-art Rockwell Automation software, along with associated industrial components that allow students to implement their software designs using real-world equipment.

Laboratory Equipment

The major equipment used in this lab consists of nine (9) programmable-automation-controller (PAC) workstations, nine (9) laptop computers, nine (9) touch-screen human-machine-interface (HMI) displays, six (6) 480-V three-phase motors, three (3) full-voltage motor starters, one (1) full-voltage reversing motor starter, two (2) variable frequency drives (VFDs), three (3) water containers with two (2) proportional water valves, two (2) pressure transmitters, one (1) limit switch, one (1) water pump with drive motor, one (1) reduced-scale head frame with an elevator car, three (3) photoelectric sensors, and two (2) stepper motors.  One workstation is used by the instructor and is hardwired to external components (i.e., motor starters, VFDs, static relays, proportional valves, sensors, stepper motor, etc.), which allows the students to implement and demonstrate their developed software using real-world equipment.


Each PAC workstation consists of the following Allen Bradley (Rockwell Automation) components housed in a Pelican case: a ten-module chassis with backplane and internal power supply, one (1) L71 processor, two (2) sixteen-channel digital input modules, (2) sixteen-channel digital output modules, one (1) eight-channel analog input module, one (1) four-channel analog output module, one (1) Ethernet module, one (1) unmanaged Ethernet switch, one (1) 24-Vdc external power supply, sixteen (16) LED lights, twelve (12) normally open momentary pushbuttons, four (4) normally closed momentary pushbuttons, two (2) 0 – 10-Vdc potentiometers, and two (2) digital voltmeters.  Each workstation has an accompanying Allen-Bradley Panel View Plus 1000 touch-screen HMI and a laptop PC.  Each PC runs the most recent version of RS Logix 5000 for developing software for the PAC processor and Factory Talk View ME for developing software for the Panel View display.

Project Equipment

Motors, motor starters, and VFDs are mounted to a panel and are used to simulate a variety of mining-machine circuits, e.g. continuous mining machine and sequential belt-starting system.  Photo-electric cells are mounted near the pulleys of two motors controlled by the VFDs, which allows the software to be developed for measuring and displaying the rotational speed (rpm) for each motor.  The water containers, proportional valves, pressure transmitters, and water pumps are used for process-control projects based on proportional, integral, and derivative (PID) control.  Stepper motors are used for motion-control projects. A functioning reduced-scale model of a personnel hoist with automatic doors permits programming projects for demonstrating basic motion-control concepts.