The plant operator has an extremely valuable and important responsibility: being the force and energy managing a capital enterprise easily worth hundreds of millions of dollars to produce or impact a daily revenue stream of millions, give or take. We ask him to be ever mindful of what the plant might be doing. We ask him to be capable of finding every little problem before it grows into a big one. We ask him to shoulder the burden of everything that goes wrong during his watch, all without any recognition when nothing does, and precious little (if not actual blame) when it goes wrong and he manages to manage. Within his area of responsibility and authority he must be able to view every control loop, most sensors, most pieces of equipment, and much of the supporting utilities, and then adjust as appropriate.
The failure to maintain situational awareness has been present in almost every disaster event that was not the result of spontaneous complete surprise. Start with the assumption that no one wants an accident. That no one would chose disaster over success. But accidents and disasters happen. We now know to a high degree of certainty that they happen because those in charge of ensuring that they do not happen, aren't aware that they are happening. They fail to know the situation. They are unaware of what is really going on, what is likely to happen, or what isn't happening that they think is. As explained in my book Alarm Management for Process Control, the solution is facilitated by effective operator interface design. Let's follow the path of interface design that can lead to better situation awareness.07/08/2009
Starting a power-generating unit involves bringing a plant from shutdown conditions to synchronization between the electrical generator and the transmission network or grid. Optimizing this process requires a careful balance which minimizes startup energy costs and limits plant damage. Traditionally, the startup of a coal-fired unit is performed manually by highly skilled operators. For RWE npower, however, an analysis of the startup methodology using the PI System from OSIsoft revealed significant variation in the company's techniques. Having identified the reasons for the variations, RWE npower then standardized and optimized the procedures to ensure that best practices were achieved for every startup.06/01/2009
As with most electric transmission and distribution (T&D) companies, growth does not come without many challenges commonly faced by most large utility companies: diverse data sources in different locations with restricted access; numerous manual data retrieval processes with limited ability for people outside the control center to immediately observe what problems have occurred; and operating in an interactive environment.
In 2003, one T&D utility implemented OSIsoft's PI System (PI) across all transmission and distribution operations. This decision dramatically changed the way the utility was able to access power system data and conduct business. Now operators, engineers, analysts, managers and executives are able to monitor real-time power system data using easy-to-configure displays with the ability to trend and analyze in real time or historical mode. PI gave the utility the ability to monitor transmission line status from the Emergency Operations Center when crises arise. Systems are now integrated, and data is provided to operations, management, planning, forecasting and regulatory compliance groups.06/01/2009
Westar Energy Inc. turned to WiredCitys IT Monitor as its primary means of preventing network and system problems inside its power plant network. The decision was spurred on by Westar Energy's familiarity and satisfaction with WiredCitys parent company, OSIsoft Inc., whose Real-time Performance Management (RtPM) Platform has had a successful track record in Westar Energy's power generation plants. In addition to improving the quality of network service and ensuring that power traders maintain critical Internet connectivity, Westar Energy discovered new uses for IT Monitor, including tracking down a virus and tuning an Oracle database, which saved a potentially costly upgrade.06/01/2009
Surface Acoustic Wave Technology-Based Temperature Monitoring of High Voltage and High Current Switchgear Boxes
Safety is a big concern when it comes to managing power distribution systems. High voltage and high current switchgear boxes serve an important role in establishing points of control within the power distribution system. The high voltages and current flowing through switchgear boxes greatly increase the probability of electric arcing and arc blasts. An arc blast is characterized by intense amounts of heat, pressure, shrapnel and molten copper. Great strides have been made in building arc resistant switchgears, nevertheless accidents have happened and the state of technology is far from completely eliminating them. One solution to this problem is to monitor the temperature of switchgear boxes to elicit early warning signs of imminent failure. Conventional methods of monitoring switchgear temperature are expensive and not entirely effective. Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) technology can provide a passively powered (battery-less), wireless temperature measurement solution that is suited for switchgears. This application note explores how a SAW based solution can provide a reliable, safe and cost-effective means of monitoring switchgear temperature.05/27/2009
Until a few years ago, QNIs cobalt/nickel refinery in Yabulu, Australia, used manual process-recording methods. Process engineers found it difficult to determine the influence of variables on product quality and to generate timely reports for management. Management was frustrated by the challenges of accounting for monthly reconciled recovery, determining where losses occurred and tracking quality by batch.
To gain control over its operations and processes, QNI needed to track key performance indicators (KPIs) and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Though QNI already had a functioning ABB distributed control system, it couldnt store process data for more than three weeks not really long enough to track production records and monitor KPIs. Faced with ISO 9001 compliance and the need to implement Six Sigma in its manufacture of high-grade nickel and cobalt products, QNI chose OSIsofts solution to combine production data from its six business units with their total of eight separate control rooms.05/22/2009
OSIsoft Helps the Roche Group Employ Real-Time Performance Management and Increase Operational Efficiencies
The Roche Group maintains three types of manufacturing facilities: chemical, biotech and galenical. To sustain growth in an increasingly competitive global business environment, the company sought a technically superior information platform that would enable operational improvements in efficiency, performance, quality and compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
Roche considered the PI System to be the best foundation to gain visibility into operational performance and enable faster response time and analysis for more cost-effective actions. As a successful global initiative, PI allows management to make more effective business decisions based on reliable and current information. Local plant management can optimize process operations to respond to real-world product demand. Operators, engineers, chemists and managers can now plan better, improve production and increase efficiency.05/22/2009
Since 1997, the Chilean-based operations of Methanex, the worlds largest producer and marketer of methanol, have been using the PI System from OSIsoft to improve product quality. With the success of using real-time data to improve operations, the company has recently begun to implement OSIsofts PI System as a strategic initiative to more fully integrate and distribute operations information throughout the company for better competitive advantages.05/15/2009
A wastewater treatment organization in Massachusetts has been implementing OSIsofts PI System (PI) as the core of an enterprise-wide solution. With the help of the real-time data collected and distributed by PI, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) is able to achieve real-time notification of events to the employees who need to know; real-time pricing of power in order to determine the most cost-effective approach to on-site power usage; deliver accurate and timely compliance reporting to local and federal agencies; and, perhaps best of all, play a key role in improving the quality of the environment in Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay.05/15/2009
The Kodak Park, located in Rochester, N.Y., is over 100 years old. The site has 1300 acres, two utility power plants, two company-owned water and waste water treatment plants, 150 buildings and 11,000 employees. The Kodak Park utility power plants have enormous generation output and demand requirements including 2,000,000 pounds per hour steam load and a 125 MW electric load.
The site also has 600 electric distribution meters, 600 additional non-electric distribution meters and many generation site meters. The utilities systems were operated and monitored by a group of disparate building automation systems and distributed control systems.
With such a vast energy and management system, Kodak shares many of the same concerns as regional utility companies conservation, optimization of resources and consolidation of data from various legacy systems. Any new technology solution added to this mix had to be compatible with our well-defined information architecture requirements.05/01/2009
Formed in 2001 as the result of a government initiative to create competitive subsidiaries in the power generation industry, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company (KHNP) needed to monitor different variables at its multiple nuclear power facilities. KHNP also wanted to actively manage the changing business conditions in Korea. There was increasing public and government concern about safety and the environmental impact of nuclear power. Residents in the towns surrounding the plants were demanding greater transparency of operations and systems. Additional requirements were to enhance the efficiency of information between facilities and integrate plant data with the companys SAP Enterprise Resource Planning system. To solve information access and transparency problems, KNHP chose the PI System from OSIsoft.05/01/2009
As industrial Ethernet networks grow in number and importance, keeping the right traffic on and off the network becomes essential
The use of Ethernet for industrial automation has grown dramatically. One of the main benefits of moving from legacy fieldbus to Ethernet is the ability to connect the front office to the manufacturing system. This is possible because Ethernet is not a proprietary communication protocol. The non-proprietary nature of Ethernet allows engineers to mix and match equipment from different vendors and get competitive bids. This combination of better office-factory communication and open standards helped industrial Ethernet gain recent widespread acceptance.
But with these benefits come potential problems. As networks and the services they provide evolve and servers or user machines are replaced and upgraded, the likelihood of passing unwanted, often obsolete protocols within the network increases.
Potentially more challenging is the existence of unknown protocols that may degrade the performance of the network. Unknown protocols are often caused by well-intended but uninformed employees who attach unauthorized devices, such as wireless access points, to the network. They can also be caused by traffic such as streaming audio from employees listening to Internet radio stations while working.04/28/2009
In 2000, Innovenes Sarralbe, France plant updated its antiquated legacy system infrastructure with the OSIsoft PI System to provide real-time and historical information. Next, the company wanted to increase operational and development efficiencies. They sought to avoid multiple manual inputs and to minimize custom application development.
In 2004, the Innovene, Sarralbe site implemented OSIsofts Analysis Framework (AF) for faster application configuration to help employees analyze and optimize processes more efficiently. Innovene was impressed with the OSIsoft suite of products, and they were convinced that AF could effectively leverage the power of the new infrastructure.04/24/2009
IPLOM, a privately held company, manufactures environmentally compatible fuel products. As a small player in a competitive market, IPLOM needed to manage and optimize production in a real-time environment. IPLOM also needed to demonstrate the consistency of the products in real-time in an easily accessible Web site to its customers.
IPLOM first selected OSIsoft Sigmafine to provide mass balance yields. After one year, the company purchased the PI System and is now planning an RtWebParts implementation.04/24/2009
Like many companies, Janssen Pharmaceutical was implementing SAP as their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. In order to integrate manufacturing data from the plant floor into SAP, Janssen simultaneously installed the OSIsoft PI System. For the first time, financial people, who had never been able to link to the production floor, were now costing in real time. People in Operations, Engineering, Quality Assurance (QA), Environmental and Security were able to obtain multiple views from one data source, resulting in better operational visibility, process improvement and collaboration. The use of the PI System has led to better decisions and ongoing improvements such as: reduced cycle times, superior batch quality and releases, thorough incident investigations, decreased process variability, real-time costing, and better alarm management and security monitoring.
Now, with the implementation of OSIsofts RtReports product, Janssen can provide QA with a tool that streamlines the validation process for faster and more accurate compliance monitoring and reporting. The reams of paper with sign-offs and manual inputs from production to QA have been replaced with a few targeted reports that include batch trends. Production is able to reduce cycle time with configurable, real-time batch performance reporting. Of significant importance to Janssens business evolution is that RtReports has become a major part of Janssens progression towards electronic batch records.04/24/2009
Industrial Automation Flirts with Wireless
The automation industry increasingly finds wireless attractive, and for several reasons.
- Running a wired network incurs significant labor and material costs, while wireless networks cost far less.
- Wireless offers connectivity for remote areas or areas not currently served by wired networks.
- Wireless controllers and I/O can manage devices and processes even in inaccessible areas, or areas where network wiring is difficult or impossible to install.
- And wireless can offer a way to provide proof-of-concept for a new project before incurring the expense of a wired network.
For all these reasons, automation engineers are beginning to seriously consider wireless solutions (specifically WLAN, wireless Ethernet, or Wi-Fi) for all or part of their applications.
But with all these good reasons to use wireless, several concerns remain. Among them are security, network performance and reliability, availability and cost of I/O components, and the necessity of choosing between wired and wireless solutions up front.04/23/2009
The purpose of this paper is to trace the history of the development of process control, advanced process control and related applied engineering technologies, and to discuss the reasons why the industry has encountered difficulties. This paper also presents some recommendations to improve the likelihood of successful APC project implementation, and make some predictions about the future direction of the technology.03/26/2009
State Based Control is a plant automation control design based on the principle that all process facilities operate in recognized, definable Process States that represent a variety of normal and abnormal conditions of the process. State Based Control, implemented with the latest developments in object-based technologies, delivers direct benefits to its adopters in a variety of Operational Excellence categories. It results in productivity increases, higher asset utilization of both people and process, automated responses and recovery for abnormal conditions and provides an environment for knowledge capture directly into the control design.03/23/2009
With the economy slowing down on a global basis, managers are reluctant to spend money or move forward on prior plans. Indeed, many companies are postponing or cancelling projects and many have begun cost cutting measures that almost always mean job eliminations.Reducing costs is a responsible management action; the goal is to protect the return on the investors equity. Video can provide a solution to many of the issues that remain, even when people are laid off or factories are closed.03/12/2009
KPIs are an excellent performance measurement tool that businesses in many different sectors employ to improve performance. The key to KPIs is finding a way to quickly gather and simply distribute the key business information without becoming beholden to large, complex databases and applications. The problem is that somewhere along the line the burden imparted by gathering and compiling month-end KPIs has become greater than the value these sometimes outdated numbers represent. How much effort, custom coding, and cost must go into compiling and communicating these measures?03/12/2009