Automation Fair / Distributed Control / Loop Control

Consider a modern DCS for your next project

The distributed control system (DCS) of the future is available today, leveraging open systems and commercial technology to provide value across the industrial enterprise.

By Paul Studebaker, editor in chief, Control

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The forces driving the process industries to modernize control systems are larger and deeper than just the need to replace end-of-life technology.

The global population will soon pass 7.6 billion, but what’s of greater interest to industry is that 1 billion people are also rising from poverty to the middle class.

“This trend will drive $8 trillion in consumer spending, putting pressure on production and natural resources,” said John Genovesi, vice president, information software and process business, Rockwell Automation, to attendees of his keynote presentation at the Rockwell Automation Process Solutions User Group this week in Chicago.

For example, we expect a 100% increase in the number of automobiles and similar rises in demand for consumer products, pharmaceuticals and fresh water.

“Industry will spend $1 trillion going after this opportunity, leveraging new technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT),” Genovesi said. The “phenomenal capability you get from leveraging these technologies” will bring a safer food supply from farm to plate, better energy management, reduced waste, lower costs, and maintenance systems that eliminate catastrophic failures.

To bring industrial data into the enterprise, where it can be used to generate value, Rockwell Automation is breaking down the barriers and combining automation with enterprise systems to create The Connected Enterprise.

IT on the plant floor

“We must embrace the convergence of information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT), and use the same network technology in the factory as at the enterprise level,” said Genovesi. “We want Ethernet for peer-to-peer, supervisory and device-level communications so we can get at the plant data, do our KPIs [key performance indicators] and integrate the enterprise to the plant floor.

“We expect this to drive up to $3.9 trillion in productivity improvements through the manufacturing supply chain.”

Industry Week reports that 14% of manufacturing companies connect equipment to the enterprise, and one-fifth report loss of intellectual property in the past year.

“We need better security as industry collects two exabytes of data a year,” Genovesi said. “Then we have to harvest and sift through all that data.”

Modern DCS has lowest TCO

Meanwhile, “Unscheduled downtime is costing us $20 billion per year,” Genovesi said. “More than three-quarters of our plants are 20 years old or older, with $65 billion worth of control technology reaching its end of life.”

As you consider how to deal with the future while replacing systems, Genovesi said Rockwell Automation stands ready to deliver on four key points: faster time to market, lowest total cost of ownership (TCO), improved asset utilization, and enterprise risk management.

“I commit to you that if you consider the total lifecycle cost, from design to decommission, Rockwell Automation will have the lowest price,” said Genovesi.

The company does this by offering integrated hardware and software across the plant. I/O, controllers and their software work with intelligent motor control, and are supported with a global network of 3,000 Rockwell Automation engineers plus a “vast network of system integrators that double our capacity,” he said.

A conventional DCS uses proprietary I/O and servers, which are “expensive and difficult to modernize,” said Genovesi.

The PlantPAx modern DCS is open, using commercial technology, making it easy to integrate third-party components from control through utility systems, he said.

The PlantPAx system offers shortened development cycles, so you can upgrade portions of the system as needed instead of having to replace it all, continued Genovesi. The Ethernet network infrastructure is not proprietary, making it easy to integrate, make changes and add third-party systems. The same network is used at the factory and in the enterprise.

“It’s easy to integrate mobility and the cloud, and it’s future-proof because it’s easy to upgrade,” he said.

“Network speeds will increase to 100 GB in the next decade,” Genovesi added. “And our system will be able to take advantage of it.”

Prepare for the next generation

“Security used to be provided by the closed system—if you couldn’t understand it, you couldn’t hack it,” Genovesi said. “Instead, we need to apply modern technology for security at every level, using the best changes and standards from IT. It’s hard to know what the security requirements of tomorrow will be. You need a strategy that is flexible and can be upgraded to the latest requirements.”

Then there’s workforce productivity—who can deploy, operate and support the system?

Operators have been tied to the control room, and maintenance is a challenge,” Genovesi said. “Instead, we use technology like virtualized templates to speed deployments, implement model-predictive control, and provide support for mobile workers.

“The next generation of engineers will have different expectations—more intuitive, simpler, plug and play. Operators need to operate a system from wherever they are to see information and data.

“So next time you plan a new system, upgrade or migrate, consider a modern DCS.”