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Automation Technologies 4/2015

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Automation Technologies 4/2015


CONTROL AND DRIVE TECHNOLOGY More analysis gives faster and better decision making Brian Phillippi In USA alone, there are 2.5 million miles of pipeline, with only 137 inspectors and huge amounts of data collected. This leaves 80 % of the time for data acquisition and only a mere 20 % of the time for data analysis. Thats 80 % of your highly trained analyst time spent on taking measurements and entering the data. What is required here, is a new way to approach process controls by integrating complex, disparate systems that improve data collection and analysis this also provides safer operational environment and improved efficiency. Author: Brian Phillippi, Product Marketing Manager, National Instruments, Texas, USA P rocess control is an expansive topic that covers a wide range of applications, from drilling techniques like hydraulic fracturing to refineries. One common consideration prevalent across all applications is a critical focus on improving HSE (Health, Safety and Environmental). Some recent illustrations of this trend include pressures to increase machine safety, optimize more operational efficiency, and implement remote monitoring for operator safety. One major caveat with the increasing trend of health, safety and environment is that it makes applications increasingly complex. Process control can be done quite simply through the use of a traditional controller such as a PLC because it provides an easy to use, reliable programming paradigm. Where PLCs fall short is in the implementation of advanced functionality, which is required by the HSE trend. Regarding advanced functionality, while different control packages may offer high functionality, but at the same time they lack in flexibility and or I/O speed. Alternatively, a control package may offer high I/O speed but limited functionality from a programming perspective. Consider the subject of improving efficiency. There are many updates that can help improve the efficiency of a machine. Updates could include:

CONTROL AND DRIVE TECHNOLOGY n Adopting high-speed data collection and analysis to improve processes. n Adding power quality monitoring to improve overall plant efficiency. n Incorporating condition monitoring to ensure that machines operate with maximum uptime. Complexities in high speed data acquisition for condition monitoring Condition monitoring requires high-speed data acquisition and processing to gain insight into the machine. Because PLCs are not equipped for this level of acquisition and processing another solution must be incorporated. This leaves users with the following three key options: n Use a route-based system with periodical measuring of each machine to detect anomalies. n Bring in a specialist vendor in condition monitoring and stack on an additional system to the PLC. n Customized solution with control and condition monitoring integrated into one. As a standalone solution, all options listed above can work well depending on users’ needs. However, for complex applications the act of integration adds artificial complexity to an already complex task. As a consequence, organizations are left to fit pieces of a puzzle together that were never designed to ‘fit’ together. Fortunately, merging technologies and adding functionality does not need to be so complex. The complexity added by integrating new solutions into existing systems is intensified when incorporating multiple solutions. This weaves a tangled web of new and existing technologies. Even more, all of this creates additional cost. Other challenges arise for both tack-on and custom solutions, such as adding new features within a solution, adapting to new or legacy equipment or paying a third-party vendor to add the functionality. Even if the original design was custom, it soon becomes easier to just tack-on a solution to get the job done immediately, and for the short term, it often is. In the age of big data and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), the traditional approach of tacking on a new ‘widget’ is no longer sufficient. Each piece of machinery can generate enormous amounts of data that need to be analyzed and communicated between machines to improve the long-term throughput and efficiency of plants. next page The route-based solutions unfortunately present a more dire situation. In the USA alone there are over 2.5 million miles of pipeline. Federal law mandates that pipe is inspected every five years. With only 137 inspectors on staff, each inspector would need to inspect more than 3,600 miles per year. The data they collect may not directly integrate into the enterprise, which makes real-time decision making nearly impossible. On an average, 80 % of their highlytrained analysts’ time was being spent taking measurements and entering data, while only 20 % of their time was available to analyze data. This problem goes far beyond implementing condition monitoring to make processes more efficient. Integrating complex, disparate systems can also improve data collection and analysis, creating safer operations and increasing the general efficiency of workers. A more balanced and practical solution Fortunately, there is a new way to approach process control that offers the best of a commercial solution combined with custom design. This solution provides the low level customization of reliable custom circuit design. Additionally, it features an agnostic hardware platform that is independent of the equipment provider. Platforms enable the same hardware technology to be applied to nearly every aspect of an application. What makes the platform concept so powerful is that it eliminates a lot of redundant work and unnecessary complexity. By using a hardware platform hardware issues can be limited since using the same architecture throughout a system provides the best interoperability. As a result, each new chal- 01 NI cRIO 9014, Real-Time Controller AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 4/2015


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