HMI / Distributed Control

Rethink Your Expectations of a DCS

The Modern DCS Must Deliver More than I/O, Control and HMI

By Paul Studebaker

AF14 Banner

"Connectivity is a hidden value amplifier," said John Genovesi, vice president and general manager, Information Software and Process Business, Rockwell Automation, to the more than 760 process automation specialists gathered in Anaheim, California, today for the kick-off of the company's Process Systems User Group (PSUG) conference. "By leveraging modern technology, we bring people closer to the process and drive productivity by unlocking the potential of real-time decisions."

For Rockwell Automation the modern distributed control system (DCS) not only runs a process, but it also drives efficiency, reduces total cost of ownership and helps users prepare for the future by enabling the connected enterprise, Genovesi said.

Here's how turbocharged DCSs drive users to new production heights.

Experts expect the Internet of Things (IoT) to drive $19 trillion into global economies, Genovesi said. "Leveraging the industrial Internet of Things in manufacturing represents a full one-third of that. Much like the smart phone's computing power, applications and Internet connectivity have empowered people in business, the modern DCS can connect and empower individuals in an industrial facility," Genovesi said.

"Any DCS supplier provides the base level of functionality—control, I/O, HMI. We have a tremendous portfolio covering these areas, but if Rockwell Automation's DCS offering looks like a ‘me, too,' why should you switch?" he asked. "The company's PlantPAx differentiates itself by giving its users faster time to market, lower total cost of ownership, improved asset utilization and reduced risk."

These capabilities depend on solutions in four critical areas: design, operations, maintenance and security.

Engineering and design are speeded by an integrated development and design environment that uses an expanding library of process objects as well as reference architectures. By building with proven components," Genovesi said, "You know it's just going to work."

The company has made rapid progress in virtualization with open templates, preconfigured systems and images that can "run on any server," he added. Templates significantly reduce the time required to integrate, for example, skids, which for conventional systems, "can add as much as 50% to 70% to the cost of the skid. In some cases, you're nearly doubling the price of a skid just to integrate it."

Having one unified architecture "from power through process control to packaging" not only speeds design and build, it reduces spare parts and maintenance training requirements, Genovesi said. And while Rockwell Automation has "thousands of engineers who would like to integrate PlantPAx systems for you," it also has thousands of engineers working for systems integrators, effectively doubling the company's capacity to integrate and support systems.

Integrated control and information systems offer high visibility of, among other things, energy consumption. "You can see right to the asset what your energy usage is," Genovesi said, "so you can hold people accountable and execute your energy strategy."

For process optimization, "We've spent a lot of time bringing APC (advanced process control) solutions closer to control," Genovesi said. "Our industry experts drive applications that bring 4% to 8% improvements in productivity and pay for themselves in less than a year—sometimes in as few as four months."

Security is "the single largest thing that keeps CEOs up at night," Genovesi said. They need "to keep data and intellectual property from being stolen." But you also need cloud access and mobility. "You can't seal up the plant."

Risk management technologies implemented with and through Cisco networks offer layered security, that is, "defense in depth that meets government standards," Genovesi said. Safety and critical control systems can be viewed on the PlantPAx operating station and offer "unique packages that generate cause-and-effect logic."

For plants that need to migrate from legacy systems, Genovesi said, "We build tools that allow you to do this easily," including database conversion and scanner tools. And if the situation calls for it, Genovesi added, Rockwell Automation has the partnerships and expertise to deliver the modern DCS completely from scratch.