Schneider Electric solutions make safety pay off

Oct. 17, 2018
The company proved process safety is profitable in a multi-booth tour of its Innovation Hub exhibit hall at its EcoStruxure Triconex User Group conference

"EcoStruxure Tricon CX v11.4 expands system capacity, capability and performance while still being 100% compatible with existing Tricon systems," Mark Turner, manager of Triconex safety products, Schneider Electric, on the company’s latest safety controller release.

In an era when every control component, automation application and process facility must contribute to pervasive business goals of running lean and doing more with less, safety instrumented systems (SIS) and supporting solutions must also do their part to aid overall corporate efforts—of course, without compromising their essential mission of protecting health and well-being.

However, while many people can talk about process safety being a good investment or aiding profitability, few can show end users how to make it happen in their own applications. One organization that can is Schneider Electric, which presented a detailed roadmap for making process safety profitable in a multi-booth tour of its Innovation Hub exhibit hall at its EcoStruxure Triconex User Group conference this week in Galveston, Texas.

Shorter path to profit

The first exhibit showed how three software solutions, EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS, EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor and EcoStruxure Profit Advisor, coordinate their on-screen capabilities to streamline production tasks for control room operators, and grant them the awareness to make better decisions.

For instance, Steve Tiller, technical sales consultant, Schneider Electric, reported that EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS can detect a valve or other field device via its I/O card, monitor its regular performance, and arrange to remove it for service if its process variable or other parameter shows it's not working right. However, far from stopping at performance optimization, EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS also reaches out to EcoStruxure Profit Advisor, which calculates and communicates back the expected profit loss that will occur by taking the field device out of service for an hour, week or other time period.

"This added revenue information means operators cam make better decisions back on the operations side," added Tiller.

This coordination between EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS and EcoStruxure Profit Advisor employs Seeq software for analytics and display, so users don't have to build graphics. These two software packages also work in conjunction with EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor, which can receive alerts about the valve or field devices, and automatically notify maintenance personnel. "For example, an alarm on an EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS screen will show up on EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor, along with basic data, such as when the transmitter was last maintained, which makes it much easier for users to triage their tasks," said Tiller.

At the same time, Elliott added that collected failure rate data shared by EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS and EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor can also go to safety system personnel to aid their initiatives and further boost potential safety and profitability.

"These complementary, integrated software offerings give users all the range and options for integrating their DCS," said Steve Elliott, senior director of marketing, Schneider Electric Process Automation. "This is important because upstream applications are more about simply turning equipment on and off, while downstream applications have a lot more different steps, which mean they all need different operating philosophies and methods."

Expert in the field

The Innovation Hub also featured Schneider Electric's recent release of its EcoStruxure Field Device Expert software that that improves how engineers commission, configure and maintain field devices throughout plant lifecycles. Field Device Expert’s Intelligent Commissioning Wizard completely automates detection, configuration, commissioning and testing of HART field instrumentation connected to an EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS. This is useful because automatic binding and configuration of HART devices has been shown to reduce commissioning schedules by more than 75% and achieve faster time to profit.

"Users simply click on a new device, and EcoStruxure Field Device Expert goes through the system to help find and commission it," said Elliott. "Replacement devices are also recognized, and the software looks for their information, too, and maps them to the template. Users just install two wires, hit a button, and the Commissioning Wizard goes and find what they need."

Validating safety

To help reduce project scheduling and time to startup, EcoStruxure Safety Validator software can test function blocks, safety logic, SIFs and all kinds of related operations scenarios, according to Alejandro Fung, technical sales consultant, Schneider Electric.

"Safety testing is usually very manual, but EcoStruxure Safety Validator reduces a lot of the human effort that used to be required," explained Fung. "EcoStruxure Safety Validator also reduces testing time by enabling automatic reuse of scripts, documenting changes, and flagging fails. It also issues a final report that users can sign off on, and replaces a lot of paper along with that former manual labor."

Fung reported that EcoStruxure Safety Validator can also test each SIF, and is intelligent enough to inform users to check certain aspects. "It's also highly integrated with Tricon controllers and EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS, which lets users run their tests in minutes instead of days," said Fung.

Elliott added that, "We had one customer with 90 burner management systems (BMSs) and 15 standard function blocks, and they reported saving two days during the functional acceptance test (FAT) for each BMS by using EcoStruxure Safety Validator. This resulted in a total savings of 180 days, plus they also saved added time on other coding and testing."

Seeing the system

As many once-separate process systems join hands and work together, it can get hard to determine where one function ends and another begins. To outflank this difficulty, EcoStruxure System Advisor follows individual device tags all the way through their systems, and keep track of any changes to them, according to Domenico Napoli, global offer manager, System Advisor and Control Advisor, Schneider Electric.

"This is a fully documented system that captures all programs, library names, tags and hardware," said Napoli. "It tracks changes between versions from the first to the last and everything in between, and it also has audit capabilities for further documentation and access to essential information."

Analyze and manage trips

To help users make sure they're meeting their design targets and testing, EcoStruxure SIF Manager Trip Advisor enables them to deal with unplanned outages by understanding why their trips are happening.

"EcoStruxure SIF Manager Trip Advisor lets users streamline their trip investigations, reduce the effort spent on them by 30%, and also improve their SIF performance," said Caleb Mellbom, technical sales consultant, Schneider Electric. "EcoStruxure SIF Manager Trip Advisor shows everything a user could want to track related to a trip, displays trends in real time, and makes a report for each trip, including response time and sequence of events. These reports are available as PDFs, so they're also easy to share."

Mellbom added that a trip arrives with a time stamp, so it's filterable, while an editor function lets users generate quarterly or monthly reports based on each event. "There's also a legend so even users that are unfamiliar with the software can identify the root cause," he added. "EcoStruxure SIF Manager Trip Advisor gives users a snapshot of conditions at the time of a trip, centralizing the variables and other data collected from multiple sources in one report."

Alarming and bypassing

Similarly, EcoStruxure Safety View Alarm and Bypass software communicates with Schneider Electric's Tricon safety platform, and runs independently of its user's DCS and HMI to enable safer operations.

"When high-priority alarms occur, and bypass management is needed to help replace devices, EcoStruxure Safety View Alarm and Bypass can work around the usual control system, and talk directly to the Tricon safety controller," explained Ryan Nelson, technical sales consultant, Schneider Electric.

"We're showing asset performance on an operations risk matrix, so supervisors and manager can see what's happening with their safety portfolio and if they're at an acceptable risk threshold," said Elliott.

Farshad Hendi, safety practice leader, Americas and Europe, Schneider Electric,  demonstrated a proof of concept for an EcoStruxure Triconex software suite that will even provide an enterprise view of the safety performance of all of a user’s assets. This solution is presently in beta testing, and is scheduled to be released early in 2019.

"This solution abstracts information about safety in a configurable green, yellow, orange and red matrix," Hendi explained. "It shows users where they are now, but it can also help them forecast what will happen if they put some equipment in bypass or conduct a test. This can indicate if what they're doing is likely to be a wise decision or not by showing the consequences of their actions on the matrix."

Latest safety controller

The Innovation Hub was highlighted by EcoStruxure Tricon CX v11.4, which Schneider Electric reports is its most secure, powerful safety controller. Designed to empower users to plan for, identify and manage real-time operating and business risks, it helps drive measurable operational profitability and do it safely. Its new features include:

  • Online upgrades without operational interruption.
  • New fault-tolerant 1 GB I/O bus and fiber-optic adaptors that allow greater distances, system flexibility and enhanced end-to-end performance.
  • Reduced system engineering and installation costs, while shortening project schedules and reducing risk, via intelligent enclosures and universal safety I/O.
  • Faster systems engineering and configuration.
  • Faster maintenance issue resolution and greater accuracy via Enhanced Diagnostic Monitor software; new Sequence of Events recorder and playback for faster event analysis and identification of process upsets and outages; and high-speed data logging for quick and accurate resolution of operational issues.

"EcoStruxure Tricon CX v11.4 expands system capacity, capability and performance while still being 100% compatible with existing Tricon systems," said Mark Turner, manager of Triconex safety products, Schneider Electric. "It provides triple modular redundancy in a smaller form factor, so users can deploy it in existing systems. It also has supervisory digital inputs, HART pass-through capability, OPC-UA for bringing in common data, and cybersecurity protection."

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About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control.