When “Just Fine” Isn’t Good Enough: HMI Design and Development

Posted by Chad Harper on November 24, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

“Please don’t talk to me about technologies that can improve my plant’s performance. I can’t stand the idea of disrupting my current situation with anything new, even if it’s better.” “So, how is the plant running these days?” “Just fine.” Unfortunately, this imagined dialogue isn’t all that imaginary. Despite the great progress we’ve made in technology, process engineering, safety and abnormal situation management, we have little to show for it in the process industries. So where did we go off track — and what can we do about it? How do we convince our peers that merely satisfactory or acceptable performance is not enough? A demographic shift in the workforce Not too long ago, production companies had buildings full of engineers who worked tirelessly on innovative techniques and new ways to optimize their processes. This required... Continue Reading

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Factory acceptance testing with system simulators

Posted by Jeff Wood on November 18, 2014 @ 1:56 pm

System simulators allow developers to test most of a new control system, but not the entire system. See 6 tips for the factory acceptance test (FAT) phase of your project.

Virtual machines and control system simulation have been a great help in checking out systems during development. These have allowed the developer to be able to check out the control system code prior to installation. Most factory acceptance tests (FATs) are conducted using a simulated system or part of the real system that will be used for final installation. Over the past several years I have developed several new plant control systems using system simulators. Although this allows the developer to check out most of the system it does not check out the entire system. I have heard several times during the site acceptance test (SAT) or commissioning phase of the project: “I thought the system was complet... Continue Reading

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Hazards encountered in industrial automation

Posted by Evan Pederson on November 11, 2014 @ 11:39 am

Recognizing safety hazards is important in any work environment—in the office, commissioning on the factory floor, or in the middle of construction. See 5 tips on avoiding common vulnerabilities.engineer

Safety is a topic we hear about often in the modern workplace. Industry rules and standards about equipment and procedures address common risks, and are continually evolving to address new ones. But one component of safety that depends on the individual is the need to stay aware of one’s surroundings. Learning what things to be on the lookout for is therefore critical, and it’s an ongoing process. For those of us in the industrial automation business, there are some unique factors that affect the hazards we ... Continue Reading

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Separating good code from bad: The “paper-and-pencil” method

Posted by Jeff Monforton on November 4, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

As the digital age continues to grow, the automation industry keeps up with upgrading or replacing control systems. When migrating, try the simple paper-and-pencil method to help identify programming issues.

pencil-imageIn society today, computer technology has become ever present. We use smartphones, tablets, laptops, the internet, web pages, and smart TVs. The digital age is certainly all around us. The automation world has also been moving in that direction for over 25 years. It is for that reason that we've been moving in this direction for as long as we have, and that brings up the requirements of today. Our industry is seeing the obsolescence of those initial control systems and the need to upgrade and r... Continue Reading

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The importance of quality throughout project lifecycle

Posted by Jeff Haywood on October 30, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

As engineers, we are very detail oriented and should always make quality part of our process—it should never be an afterthought.

As engineers, we are very detail oriented and should always make quality part of our process—it should never be an afterthought. What we produce makes a statement about who we are. The process should follow the complete lifecycle of the project, from definition to startup. Do you raise questions to both your project teams and the customer throughout the project? During the definition and design phase, take the time to perform a detailed review of all documentation provided by the customer as well as gathered during site visits. Have a clear understanding of the project deliverables. Do you take the time to u nderstand what is important to the customer when it comes to quality? Review control narratives, piping and instrumentation diagrams, IO ... Continue Reading

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