Enhancing piping, instrumentation diagrams to fit your needs

Posted by MayAnn Stroup on August 27, 2014 @ 8:50 am

Process overview documents don’t always include everything you may need for a project, so don’t be afraid to add your own grubby little sketches.

When I start work on a project, the first thing I do is get an understanding of the process that will be controlled. Piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) are a useful resource, but they are multi-purpose documents. They may include piping codes, vessel specifications, and construction notes. A process usually covers multiple P&IDs. If the existing process is already controlled by a distributed control system (DCS) or programmable logic controller (PLC), the existing operator interface displays are also useful references. A process usually requires multiple displays to show all of its components. If there are few displays, or if there are good process overview displays, I can use them for my purposes as they are. ... Continue Reading

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Enterprise batch records and enterprise manufacturing intelligence

Posted by John Clemons on August 20, 2014 @ 9:59 am

Enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) has its own benefits, but it’s most useful when used with the enterprise batch records, providing personnel with to access the data they need.

In past blog posts where I’ve talked about enterprise batch records, I’ve also mentioned the concept of enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) a couple of times. But, I noticed that I haven’t really spent that much time explaining EMI. So, I thought it would make sense to devote some time specifically to the idea of EMI.

But, a couple of background points first. EMI is really a lot of different things. And, different people call EMI by different ... Continue Reading

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Program development: How to simplify a complex system

Posted by Brad Ems on August 12, 2014 @ 9:09 am

Control systems engineers work on processes that can be incredibly complex. The interactions of process, operator, environment, and control systems can produce at time a dizzying and bewildering array of outcomes.

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein We, as control systems engineers, work on processes that can be incredibly complex. The interactions of process, operator, environment, and control systems can produce at times a dizzying and bewildering array of outcomes. We make every effort to anticipate and manage those outcomes, but as systems grow more complex, the ability of even the most thorough engineer can fall short. Add to that the growing tool sets available to us, such as the IEC 61131-3 programming languages, utilities that permit the use of pre-programmed code blocks, and the ability to manipulate our control p... Continue Reading

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Converting control systems: Take the time to improve control strategy

Posted by MayAnn Stroup on August 5, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

Consider investing the time to write a scope that includes control strategy improvement and open the door to taking advantage of the functionality provided by a new control system.

Courtesy: Maverick Technologies

One of the most frustrating expressions I see in scope documents is, “Convert the existing control system as it is. We’ll make control strategy improvements later.” It’s painful to see. In my 24 years in systems integration, I’ve learned that later never comes.

It’s easy to understand the appeal of convert-it-as-it-is scopes. First, we know the existing system is working—mostly; where it’s not ... Continue Reading

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Operator training simulators can help meet plant-wide safety goals

Posted by Matt Thibodaux on July 30, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

Consider thinking of operator training simulators as a long term investment, reducing maintenance costs and providing round-the-clock training for plant employees.

Operator training simulators (OTSs) can be a major asset to a large plant or refinery. However, many managers consider them more as an expense, a sink for valuable resources, without looking at their utility in sustaining plant safety and reducing costly shutdowns. I think it’s time to shed some light on the value that these simulators can contribute to a process. At steady-state, a healthy plant operates as a well-oiled machine. Its control system smoothly allows the process to be self-correcting when an upset or disturbance occurs. Some disruptions are significant enough that they require operators to take corrective action to restore the process to steady state. In rare cases, a disturbance upsets the plant s... Continue Reading

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