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Modular Systems Speed and Simplify New Plant Programming

The post Modular Systems Speed and Simplify New Plant Programming first appeared on the ISA Interchange blog site.

This excerpt from InTech magazine was written by Marcus Tennant,  principal systems architect at Yokogawa.

Getting out the cake and candles may have been overdoing it, but ISA-88’s 20th birthday was 28 February 2015. Since 1995, it has served countless manufacturers, primarily in batch process industries, while growing and evolving to cover new areas, and even spawning other standards. The first batch control standard in the ISA-88 series was approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in that year, and one could argue that the ISA-95 standards on enterprise hierarchy and ISA-106 on applying procedural and equipment models to continuous processes came out of concepts in ISA-88.

Modular-Systems-Speed-Simplify-New-Plant-Programming

Testimonials by operating companies best represent the benefits of the ISA-88 series of standards over the years. Some benefits attributed to the standard are:

  • quicker time to market as a result of reduced effort required to build plants
  • ability to create recipes and equipment logic in parallel
  • lower total cost of ownership for automation
  • reduced training costs as engineers move between plants and process cells with different suppliers’ systems and processes

Its importance continues to increase as a guide for all manufacturers, but particularly in the chemical and oil and gas industries. These and related industries are enjoying a resurgence in North America. New sources of oil and gas make the landscape far more attractive for plant upgrades and greenfield construction throughout the hydrocarbon value chain—from upstream extraction, pipelines, and refining to bulk and specialty chemicals. In some respects, the success of this resurgence is its own greatest threat, as demand is growing rapidly for skilled engineering and construction workers. Some recent studies predict human resource shortages will impose a severe constraint in the future.

Access to cheap oil- and natural gas-based feedstocks supports growth, but keeping manufacturing sustainable in the long term depends on a variety of considerations, which is where concepts from ISA-88 fit into the picture.

Reducing life-cycle costs

Competition among global manufacturers requires low costs for all factors of production:

  • plant construction
  • engineering
  • maintenance
  • material use
  • personnel
  • energy

Naturally, automation is a major part of the equation. Effective control systems combined with optimal work practices support operational excellence. Due to its wide adoption, ISA-88 has had a leading role in how batch control systems are designed and implemented. ISA-88’s recipe structure, the separation of product and process information, and the encouragement of design modularity have influenced most batch processes in this country, if not the world, over the past 20 years. Modularization in process industries is getting a new look in facilities, processes, and automation—and ISA-88’s contributions are helping support this movement.

Start with modular construction

In years past, most plant construction was stick-built on site with carpenters, fabricators, pipe fitters, and electricians building equipment from scratch to match designs. They welded together tank sides, cut and connected piping, and added wiring and control cabinets. Small armies of skilled tradesmen and technicians had to be brought to the site for months at a time. Working conditions were not always ideal and were subject to weather interference. Even minor safety incidents were an issue, particularly as they could affect a plant’s insurance rates.

Costs and labor constraints are changing the picture. Plant owners have to keep costs under control and work around skilled labor shortages, and one way to do this is by undertaking major construction projects without armies of people on site. Such constraints push companies to be more creative and do more with fewer resources. One option, which is growing in popularity, is building more of the plant equipment as modules in specialized facilities rather than on site. These modules are delivered to the construction site ready to be interconnected.

combining equipment control physical equipment

Equipment entities are formed by combining equipment control and physical equipment. They can accept commands and send out status.

Modularization has been going on for decades, but the variety of equipment being handled this way is growing. The more manufacturers can do in a specialized environment with ideal tools and the most highly trained people, the easier it is to control costs and ensure the highest possible quality and safety. Process plants are embracing modularization in new ways and are gaining comfort with the practice.

Equipment delivered to the site in modules ready for installation can be dropped on a foundation designed to receive it, with piping and wiring in place and ready to connect. Modularization saves time because equipment can be built off site before all permits are received for a new facility. When final approval comes in, much of the equipment will be ready to install immediately, rather than having to wait to begin the construction process. Any module not too large to be shipped to the site can be built elsewhere and brought in as close to complete as possible. This can go as far as an entire plant or production unit.

Click here to read the complete article by Marcus Tennant on modular systems at InTech magazine.

About the Author
Marcus-TennantMarcus Tennant has been with Yokogawa Corporation since December 2008 as a senior principal technology specialist. Before Yokogawa, Tennant worked at Rockwell Automation for 10 years as a product manager and application engineer. Before that, he was with Morton International for 10 years, holding various positions in process development, project engineering, and quality assurance and with Jones-Blair Company for five years as a research and development chemist and process engineer. Tennant has a B.S. in chemical engineering from Michigan State University and an M.S. in operations and technology management from the Stuart School of Business at Illinois Institute of Technology. He has been a member of AIChE since 1984 and is also a member of ACS and ISA.
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Source: ISA News