Assembling a startup team for success

Posted by Ryan Harris on December 16, 2014 @ 11:38 am

Most traditional startup teams are comprised of process engineers, controls engineers, electricians, and mechanists—but don't forget to consider plant personnel, too.

What makes up a great startup team? Many traditional teams are comprised of process engineers, controls engineers, electricians, and mechanists. However, there are additions to the team that should be considered, like plant personal operators, and even shift managers.

For contracted projects, every team needs a plant contact; I am talking about plant personnel directly involved in startup activities. With contracted projects, the execution team is often working remotely, which can be hours or even days away from the plant facility. How do you bridge the gap between execution and implementation? Who is left to support the new systems in the plant? Are they properly trained to maintain the new system? Will th... Continue Reading

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Integrating third-party systems with a DCS

Posted by Tony Kolluri on December 10, 2014 @ 12:16 pm

Several considerations need to be made when interfacing a distributed control system (DCS) to a third-party system, including the choice between using SCADA or peer-control solutions.

Figure 1: Interfacing a distributed control system (DCS) to a programmable logic controller (PLC). Courtesy: Maverick Technologies Interfacing a distributed control system (DCS) to a third-party system—let’s say a programmable logic controller (PLC)—is most commonly done via SCADA or peer-control using various communication protocols. While it appears that it’s just a task of getting the data ‘in... Continue Reading

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Managing CIP Connections

Posted by John Boyd on December 2, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

Properly managing your control system CIP connections can help avoid confusion and other complications within a process automation project.

Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) is used on industrial automation application networks—such as Ethernet/IP, DeviceNet, and ControlNet—and is supported by ODVA. A CIP connection is a connection between two devices on a CIP-enabled network. This could be between two programmable automation controllers (PACs), between a PAC and a communication module, or between a remote rack communication module and an analog card in its rack (see Figure 1). A CIP connection is a connection between two devices on a CIP-enabled network. Cou... <a class=Continue Reading

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Using programming standards to navigate your process

Posted by John Athy on November 26, 2014 @ 9:31 am

A definite set of programming and HMI standards can alleviate the burden of navigating your controls process from start to finish.

Imagine you had to navigate from one corner of London to the opposite corner, using only a map. No problem, but what if each square mile of this map was designed by a separate person using different scales, symbols, and languages. Now the task becomes more daunting. This analogy can also apply to process automation, specifically with regards to programming and human machine interface (HMI) development. Not having a defined set of programming and HMI standards can lead to a piecemeal set of systems in the overall process that can leave programmers, maintenance, and operations personal with the burden of navigating through the controls process from start to finish. The key to alleviate this burden is to have a uniform "map;" this is where programmi... Continue Reading

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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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