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Furnace Management & Control Systems (FMCS)


VFE can supply and install FMCS for use on any of the following equipment: Vacuum Furnaces (Heating/Brazing/Melting/Casting), Diffusion Bonders, Vacuum Drying Ovens, and Atmospheric/Air Furnaces.

Due to its modular design, our FMSC can be adapted by our in-house team of software architects and control engineers to meet our customers’ specific requirements. And with remote monitoring available, we can support our customers worldwide.

How it works

The FMCS acts as a central point for communications with all other systems and devices. It can measure, process, control and record temperature and vacuum readings from a range of different instruments. When in operation, the system executes the selected heat treatment profile, records all the data and stores it internally. Notably, it can serve this data in real-time across networked devices.

The FMCS is a highly robust and industrially proven piece of hardware on which manufacturers can depend to automate, monitor and report on furnace operations.

Full Technical Specifications

Software Interface

FMCS is written in-house with the sole purpose of managing vacuum furnace equipment. Its applications include the following:

  • Acts as the primary user interface for operators and engineers
  • Provides a simple but powerful graphical profile editor
  • Displays current running status with numerical and graphical presentation
  • Displays system alarms and diagnostic data
  • Records all process data and user actions in a secure database
  • Used to search database and view/print/ export historical records
  • Allows manual intervention to the process to authorised users

Process Control

Due to the powerful nature of the programmable logic controller (PLC) processor, we have been able to take advantage of its proven PId control logic and enhanced it to replicate the functionality of the best traditional discrete programmer/controllers. As a result:

  • Process variables such as temperature and vacuum are measured by thermocouples/other sensors and the readings are interpreted and processed by the PLC against the set points
  • VFE control algorithm follows the programmed temperature ramp rate
  • PID control optimises the power required in each heating zone
  • Output demand is communicated digitally to each Thyristor (power controller) with actual kW consumption continually monitored

Additional Interface/ Recording

For most systems, the data recording of the FMCS software provides sufficient security. For more critical applications, additional options may be considered.

  • Duty/Standby PC Configuration
    The system is configured with a “hot standby” PC which is continually recording and following the duty PC. In the event of duty PC failure, operators can continue to monitor the cycle to completion without interruption
  • HMI
    This dedicated network device is able to mimic the critical functions of the FMCS software during running cycles (pause, abort, view trend charts and numerical data). It also records a backup copy of key process data like a graphical chart recorder
  • Backup Recorder
    A graphical chart recorder can be fitted in place of (or in addition to) an HMI to provide backup data recording but without the HMI’s ability to provide machine interaction

Optional Centralised Scada

For customers with multiple furnaces in use, the management and reporting of run data can become challenging. For these scenarios we produce an optional central SCADA system:

  • An additional PC system that can be installed away from the furnaces to check and analyse the run history
  • The system acquires and logs furnace data in parallel with the furnace FMCS, providing a backup data record
  • A mimic and alarm repeater can notify of any real-time issues down at the furnace
  • An assisted run-analysis system takes the guesswork out of validation, automatically detecting ramps and dwells and calculating their rates and durations for approval
  • Digitally signed run reports demonstrate compliance of the run to requirements

Technical Benefits

Enhanced control algorithms to maximise equipment capability and reduce cycle times

Ramp start/end detection to improve response to new rate requirements and minimise part temperature overshoot by recognising your cycle demands

Profile setup by bar-coded route cards or parts, or even direct from manufacturing database reduces equipment turnaround time

Advanced auto-tuning adjusts control parameters to ensure the highest accuracy of control, exceeding AMS2750 Class 1 (Subject to equipment TUS)

Cost Benefits


System consumes less energy than legacy systems

Fewer call out fees

Due to remote connection enabling support often without the need to visit site

Less production downtime

Due to enhanced reliability and prompt remote diagnostics support capability

Saved time

Simpler sourcing of spares as no obsolete parts

Smoother audits

Resulting in less internal time used to solve non-compliances