Process Automation Integrated Systems: A Data-Driven Search for Oil

Integrated Systems Pump Data to Feed the Search for Oil in Alberta

By Russ Ritchie, Dan Lastiwka

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Asset management

The AMS Device Manager asset management software offers a number of benefits including higher plant equipment availability and lower maintenance costs. This application provides constant contact with all 600 smart field devices, enabling Laricina technicians to configure, calibrate and troubleshoot 95% of the plant's analog devices from the comfort, convenience and safety of the control room. Without this tool, technicians would have to go from device to device in the field, inputting data that could not be verified.  Field-generated diagnostics identify developing problems online, so failing assets (which can be sources of bad data) are quickly recognized, and there is no need to go into the field for further investigation—a significant time and safety benefit.

Read Also: The Asset Management and Sustainability Connection

This plant operates in a hazardous, often cold environment, and trips to the field can require lots of protective gear. Online access to diagnostic data frees plant personnel from handheld devices and reduces the amount of time they must spend in the field. Information about the condition of field equipment is used to determine the most convenient time for repair or replacement. When maintenance is needed, and a technician must go out into the plant, that person knows just where to go and what to take along because an initial evaluation is available right in the control room. This is predictive maintenance (the most efficient kind), and it has eliminated the need for one instrument technician per rotation, saving $400,000 each year, ongoing.

Easy annual verification of Coriolis, magmeters and vortex meters is another important benefit of AMS Device Manager. Factory and/or commissioning signatures archived in the AMS Suite database can be compared with current online signatures, eliminating the need to shut down process lines so meters can be visually inspected and/or calibrated. This plant is easily able to meet regulatory requirements for meter verification without losing information or productivity. That alone saves another $400,000 per year by maintaining production uptime, thereby satisfying one of the original design goals.

Using the Valve Link SNAP-ON application to AMS, one can also view factory and current control valve signatures.  By comparing signatures, plant personnel are able to determine if a valve requires maintenance during a planned shutdown, or in some cases, an unplanned shutdown can be prevented.  Savings here have not yet been realized as the facility is still relatively new.

The AMS Suite database is synchronized and exportable, so all similar devices can be viewed in an Excel table and checked for configuration errors or inconsistencies from anywhere in the world. Laricina's system is all networked together through firewalls. Corporate users can gain access from their desktops with user names and passwords. Persons away from the corporate center must utilize a VPN type connection. Either way, this remote access to field devices allows managers in Calgary to interrogate specific devices in the plant—and reconfigure them if necessary. Limited on-site resources make it important to have this remote assistance available 24/7.

Personnel from Emerson and Spartan Controls, Emerson's local business partner in Calgary, also have access to the information for advance diagnostics and to advise Laricina if and when maintenance is necessary.

All this functionality is available with very little software manipulation. HART Pass-Through, which is incorporated in DeltaV, is the main requirement. Once the system is up and devices attached, the AMS Suite database is automatically populated. The system is intuitive, so no special training has been needed for instrument and control technicians, and they all use it almost daily– it's that easy.

Utility/SCADA network

A utility network was set up to integrate the five percent of field data that is not HART-enabled into DeltaV and ultimately to the Pi Historian. The utility network is integrated via OPC using Kepware (from Kepware Technologies) on the app station. Information from all SCADA, gas chromatograph, auxiliary PLCs on disposal wells, etc. is included. This network and the associated maintenance computer are also used to configure and troubleshoot the non-HART devices (GWR Radar Master, PLCs, GC, etc). Radar or other variables on multivariable transmitters (MVS) are brought directly into DeltaV as secondary variables over HART.

Also Read: Change Is in the Wind for SCADA

The DeltaV data historian was configured to share information over a bridge to the Pi Historian (from OSIsoft, on the corporate network. This enables in-depth analysis of real-time process data by corporate level users who work to optimize field operations in order to make the Laricina process commercially viable. It also facilitates reporting and other documentation for management and regulatory purposes. Drivers were chosen to ensure that the AMS Suite, DeltaV, and Pi Historian databases are fully synchronized – right down to descriptions, units and instrument ranges. Every night at midnight, a synchronization program runs to ensure that the Pi database is completely synchronized with the latest changes or additions from the field.

This is very close to a single database and delivers significant value to the plant. It is one of the top three features of this integrated data system – the others being self-diagnostics and predictive maintenance including meter and valve verification/analysis.

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