Voices: Hebert

Combining Building and Process Automation Systems. Is It Better?

Combining Building and Process Automation Systems Can Ease Plant Support, but Be Prepared to Ante Up

By Dan Hebert

Most process plants have a need for some type of facilities management and corresponding building automation systems. The degree of sophistication ranges from very simple for a plant with mostly outdoor equipment, such as a petrochemical facility, to quite complex for pharmaceutical and other plants where climate control and air quality are integral parts of the process.

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Sparky, Sparky, Zap!

Neither spark-gap devices nor silicon avalanche diodes are a good fit for protecting process-plant electronics.

08/30/2007

A Too-Smart Solution?

The benefits of installing smart metering systems in the plight of utilities are clear, but implementation is complex.

08/01/2007

Mission Control

Custom-built command-and-control centers are an expensive option, but they provide concrete benefits.

07/15/2007

Fieldbus in hazardous areas

Digital fieldbus networks have created new options for installing devices in hazardous areas by simplifying implementation of IS systems and avoiding explosion-proof enclosure conduit systems.

06/08/2007

The skinny on PC-based control systems

In this column, Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, takes a look at why a process skid manufacturer thinks PC-based control makes sense for its—and other—process applications.

05/07/2007

Why calibration measurement software?

Field calibration is faster and more accurate with digital calibrators and a CMS, but there’s a catch. Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, reports on the state of the art in calibration systems for the operator.

04/06/2007

Data access from everywhere

Limitations have kept mobile data access on the tradeshow floor and out of most process plants, but things are changing for the better because of a number of hardware and software tools that are making it practical.

03/08/2007

Digital fieldbus networks

It's not so easy to deploy digital fieldbus networks in existing process plants. Working to upgrade from discrete and analog connections to digital fieldbus networks presents a host of options and challenges.

02/01/2007

Alarm management improves plant operations

Alarm management is a hot topic, perhaps because incorrect presentation of alarms often confuses operators. This article shows how better alarm management empowers operators to improve plant performance.

01/05/2007

AutomationXchange event report

While basic plant-floor automation is no longer a mystery, advanced control often is, making techniques for solving difficult process control problems of high interest to end users and service providers.

12/14/2006

Analyzers not ready for prime time

It is easy to see why the analyzer market doesn’t work for end users, but it is harder to find a solution. Clues can be found, however, in one small part of the analyzer market that is improving rapidly.

11/02/2006

User-friendly advanced control

Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, looks at the latest advances in simulation and modeling technologies for improved loop control, including new software packages and embedded APC systems.

10/26/2006

Welcome to the Bus Wars, Part Tres

You may not be aware, but a new bus war is being waged in your plant — the battle of the motion networks. Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, provides analysis and commentary on the newest battle over fieldbus.

09/01/2006

Stop wasting money on backup power

The most prudent and cost-effective strategy for dealing with power-quality events is to protect against relatively frequent, short-term voltage sags as opposed to much rarer power outages.

08/10/2006

Who should do your next project? Part 2

In part two of this two-part series, Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, takes a look at how your company’s own internal capabilities and characteristics can affect automation contractor selection.

07/14/2006

Who should do your next project?

Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, takes a look at ways you can make an automation contractor selection based on project size, scope, and support requirements in this installment of Technically Speaking.

06/12/2006

PC-based control infiltrates process plants

As PC-based control becomes more widespread in process plants, often via purchased machines and process skids, companies are finding it's a short step to implementing it for control over critical processes.

05/15/2006

Data logger size matters

New requirements and regulations are constantly being foisted on you and your plant, and many of these requirements necessitate acquisition and recording of data. Compact data loggers offer a solution.

04/17/2006

The right tool for the job

The next horizon for portable HMI applications may be the cell phone, which is cheap, ubiquitous, and produced in larger annual quantities than any consumer electronics device in history.

03/20/2006

HMI software is disappearing

Senior Tech Editor Rich Merritt takes a look at the HMI marketplace and finds today's software packages are getting better and cheaper, but are increasingly disappearing into control system vendors' portfolios.

02/13/2006