Seamless Integration Promotes Collaboration

What Operators Need The Most to Succeed Is Information. However, the Challenge Is to Provide Seamless Access to Multiple Sources of Information

By Keith Larson

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But with the System 800xA's Aspect Object technology, calmly right-clicking a context menu immediately gives operators the correct documentation for the task at hand, such as instructions and drawings for a planned shutdown. A single version of the latest documentation is directly linked to the specific process object on the screen.

Integration Enables Team Collaboration

The direct integration of voice communication, public address and video systems in the ABB System 800xA environment enables more effective collaboration with other operators, field technicians, shift supervisors, maintenance staff and even offsite personnel—resulting in improved process stability, productivity and safety.

In their daily work, control room operators communicate extensively with other people in a variety of ways—through landlines, cell phones and walkie-talkies to name a few. But instead of having an assortment of communication tools lying on workstation desks, each of which requires the operator to take her eye off the board to initiate communication, 800xA allows operators to rely on the system to connect them to any person needed. In more critical situations, the system will see that preconfigured messages (translated into several languages if needed) are sent out as voice messages over the public address system. Equivalent typed messages also can be sent out at the push of a button.

Live video, too, plays a key role in today's plant operations, and a modern facility may have hundreds of cameras in use simultaneously. With ABB's approach to integrated video, any live feed is available from within the operations environment. Video feeds can be embedded in process displays, and images shared with other individuals in the plant or on the outside.

Another benefit to the System 800xA's object-oriented architecture is that a relatively simple, browser-based thin client can be used to seamlessly retrieve and display everything that the operator sees, as well as ad hoc dashboard, trend and other reports. Displays are available inside or outside of the plant facility, as long as a secure connection to the plant network exists. Called the cpmPlus Smart Client, this application provides intelligent data access and viewing functions to assist all levels of personnel—including operators—in making quick, informed decisions to improve overall plant performance. Among the configurable dashboards that can be easily deployed are trending and statistical process control charts, alarm and event notifications, and even a Microsoft Excel interface for exporting plant data.

Power, Safety and Maintenance

While integration and collaboration's broad-ranging benefits carry into every corner of a process plant's performance, a closer look at the power of integration along three specific dimensions helps to illustrate integration's true potential to boost operator effectiveness, namely, in the integration of process automation with electrical power, process safety and maintenance management tasks.

As a leading supplier of energy infrastructure, ABB is uniquely positioned to bring power management, substation automation, process electrification and process automation together in one integrated system. Having one common operating interface improves visibility for electrical and process operators, streamlining plant-wide operation and generating savings in downtime, maintenance, energy and personnel costs.

Operators enjoy a complete view of plant energy loads and are able to effectively balance availability and consumption. Common event and alarm lists on a millisecond level simplify and speed up trouble-shooting and maintenance work, resulting in reduced disturbances and downtime. Other applications enabled include load-shedding; operators can safely—even automatically—trigger the shutdown of select processes in the case of a power supply shortage or to avoid a peak consumption penalty.

Improved visibility also allows the exploration of new energy saving opportunities and the enhancement of existing energy reduction programs. For example, an increase in power consumption by a unit or an area can indicate equipment malfunction or wear. In fact, the ARC Advisory Group has reported that simply increasing visibility into energy consumption can lead to as much as a 10% reduction in use.

Safety systems that are entirely separated from process control mean that operators often are left in the dark when a safety circuit alarm is triggered. System 800xA High Integrity provides an unprecedented level of integration with the operations environment, allowing operators to enjoy a familiar, all-in-one process overview with full visualization and common alarm lists that improve the understanding of process events and reduce risk. An integrated environment also can help to validate the accuracy and function of safety instrumentation against instrumentation used for process control.

Similarly, the ability of operators to easily submit fault reports from an embedded condition monitoring application to an integrated computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) speeds repairs, since maintenance staff receives more timely input about what corrective measures may be needed. Furthermore, since the equipment information is automatically filled in, manual errors are drastically reduced and much time is saved. The fault report is available for the maintenance department at the very same moment the operator presses submit, streamlining collaboration and improving the ability to address an anomaly before it affects production.

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