Analyze Those Loops Yourself
The process control vendors and service companies have built powerful analysis and diagnostic capabilities into their new software systems. They have the ability to monitor every process variable, put all the data into a process historian, and analyze it on a loop-by-loop basis for efficiency from remote service centers or locally, in your plant.
You might want to take advantage of the same tools to preserve your job. PlantTriage from ExperTune and similar software from other vendors can perform the same service that the process control companies offer. In fact, the vendors might be using the same software, because it works.
&ldquoA performance monitoring package like PlantTriage prioritizes the loops that need attention and automatically diagnoses the problems,&rdquo says John Gerry, president of ExperTune
. &ldquoThe only way to survive and be competitive is to use software tools like this.&rdquo It also helps you preserve process knowledge, because it records all PID tuning changes and allows you to enter notes as to why you tuned it that way, he adds.Run Your Own Server Farm
With server-based systems soon to be announced, the big control vendors will be able to run your plant from centralized server &ldquofarms,&rdquo where specialists of all kinds will be available to diagnose problems, retune loops, decide when maintenance needs to be done, and even operate the plant from afar. In other words, the entire control system and all its engineering and tech support can be outsourced.
There is no reason why a forward-thinking control engineer such as yourself could not set up a similar server farm in your company; that is, a centralized system that monitors and controls all your company&rsquos process operations around the world. In other words, instead of having instrumentation departments in each plant, set up a central Instrument Engineering department at company headquarters, and run all your plants from there.
Such a system documents and preserves all the process knowledge in one place. A centralized system also preserves the jobs of your company&rsquos expert control engineers, techs, and operations people, and keeps all their knowledge in house.
The wave of the future is to consolidate all the control, maintenance and diagnostics work in a plant anyway, so just ride the wave, set up your own central operation, and keep your knowledge in house. Otherwise, you might do better to shop your resume to whoever will have to pick up the ball as the knowledge disappears from your plant.
Adversity always breeds opportunity. When your business accounting management starts looking for ways to replace engineers and techs with outside services, show them that you can do the same job at a lower cost by using the same knowledge management tools that the outside suppliers will use if you don&rsquot.