The Future Of Technology

Who: Diyan Zagarov

From: Bulgaria

Attending College: Lanier Technical College, North Georgia

Childhood Dreams

Diyan Zagarov grew up in Bulgaria. Growing up, Diyan thought of himself as the adventurous type and often felt the desire to travel and see the world. However, he grew up under the shadow of the Soviet Union, so for a long time traveling outside of his native Bulgaria was very difficult.

Diyan-ZagarovAs a teenager, Diyan joined the Bulgarian Air Force. Because of his high academic ability and aptitude for engineering, the Bulgarian Air Force sent him to college. After five years of intense study, Zagarov earned a bachelor’s degree in Avionics with a specialization in electrical engineering. In all, Zagarov spent 15 years in the Bulgarian Air Force performing maintenance and repair on Russian MIG fighter jets and Czech L-29 and L-39 training jets.

The Move to the US

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Bulgarian government moved more towards socialism and was then recognized by most Western European nations. As a result, travel became a possibility for Diyan. He entered a government-sponsored lottery, and by the luck of the draw, won an opportunity to live and work in the United States. Although it was a very difficult decision, Diyan decided that the opportunity was too good to pass up. So, he moved with his family to Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Diyan now works at Rock-Tenn, a paperboard and corrugated packaging manufacturing company with a location in Norcross, Georgia. The managers at the facility soon saw that Diyan had exceptional technical ability. Diyan recognized, however, that he lacked training on the plant’s automation equipment, especially with PLCs. The best place to receive this type of training in Northeast Georgia is Lanier Technical College. So, Diyan enrolled in the school’s Industrial Systems program to learn how to program, network, and maintain PLCs.

With all of his previous experience, Diyan was a quick study. To add to his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, he acquired a certificate from Lanier Technical College in Programmable Logic Controllers. Skills gained at Lanier Tech using industry-standard equipment and processes have already proven to be valuable. Using this training, Diyan has designed a system that automates a critical filtration process at Rock-Tenn.

Automating the separation of water from wasted ink is an important step in printing processes. At Rock Tenn’s plant, an air assisted manual filter press was used for this purpose. Compressing the chemically separated ink and water through filters was the only automated step performed by a DirectLOGIC DL05 PLC. The operator started the filling process manually, and upon completion, he performed a “blow down” drying cycle. After this, he opened the press, cleaned the filters, closed the press, and started the process again.

While attending the PLC programming class, Diyan created a program to automate the entire filter press operation, until the press opens for cleaning. The operators need only clean the filters and restart the process. Diyan developed the program and has integrated a C-more panel to allow the operator to control and monitor the press operation. The PC, PLC, and the C-more panel were networked using the STRIDE 5-port Ethernet switch. Based on the cost of a DL06, a switch, and a C-more panel, it was estimated that a $25,000 per year savings has been achieved by eliminating the need to employ an operator to manually control the press operation. Troubleshooting and repair time have also been greatly reduced.

Diyan is currently trying to automate the process of collecting the wasted inks in the tank for chemical treatment and integrate it into one program with the filter press operation.

Sam Ajlani, director of the Industrial Systems Technology program at Lanier Technical College says that Zagarov “is a student with a strong work ethic. He is super-intelligent and detailed oriented. He is now well trained in controls, motor controls, and PLCs. He will undoubtedly benefit Rock-Tenn and would be a tremendous asset to any manufacturing organization.”

Diyan Zagarov’s story is an example of the changing face of technical education. Many students who have graduated from four-year colleges and universities and even some with post-graduate degrees are realizing that in order to make a contribution in most occupational fields, they must continue training throughout their career. In fact, Zagarov is one of two students with advanced engineering degrees enrolled in the Industrial Systems program at Lanier Tech.

Lanier Technical College has partnered with Automation Direct and currently uses AutomationDirect PLCs in several of their training classes. Not coincidentally, Rock-Tenn also uses AutomationDirect PLCs.

“AutomationDirect PLC hardware and software has been invaluable to the Lanier Technical College program due to its cost effectiveness and ease of use,” Sam Ajlani says, “In this day and age, industry requires trained personnel and value-added equipment controls. The partnership between Lanier Technical College and AutomationDirect has allowed us to maintain a cutting-edge, hands-on training facility and ultimately to provide highly skilled employees to manufacturing operations throughout North Georgia.”

View products from AutomationDirect that relate to this article:
DL05 PLCs ׀ C-more HMI ׀ STRIDE Ethernet Switches ׀ DL06 PLCs

Originally Published: March 1, 2009