Oil & Gas enterprises to bear a significant amount of avoidable and unnecessary expense by operating power & process management systems as separate silos. Working with multiple vendors across wide domains of process control, the vendor-supplied solutions use different communication protocols. Thus, integration work at the outset is costly and time consuming because of the additional engineering and programming that needs to take place. Gateways need to be built so that cross systems communications can occur. The cost of supporting these forced fixes across the lifetime of these assets is high. Whenever changes or upgrades to the process systems occur, changes have to be implemented on a project-by-project or even device-by-device basis.
Maintaining separate process and power management systems also has a ripple effect of magnifying overall complexity: multiple systems lead to multiple databases, additional engineering tools, different operator stations, and more system administration and maintenance.
Technical and business advantages of convergence
As explained in our previous post methods for converging, integrating the worlds of power, motor controls/drives, automation systems, and safety control systems into a single decision-making environment facilitates continuous operations because any unforeseen electrical or process disturbance is handled in real-time.
In addition to streamlining operations, convergence enhances efficiency at the design, engineering and construction phases of projects. For example, multi-disciplinary software tools enable engineers to better perform the various mechanical, electrical and automation design tasks. Common templates of proven and validated functional modules simplify the engineering. Clear and well-defined interfaces ensure consistency and simplify data and model management.
The commissioning phase also benefits from convergence. In a traditional scenario, commissioning of multiple systems is a daunting task that can involve high expense. When commissioning within a converged approach, the various systems can link together in a synchronized fashion very quickly because communication protocols are standardized. Connected products are designed to identify and communicate to each other automatically through machine to machine communication. This enables the systems not only to talk to each other, but also to communicate to humans at the operation and management levels of the plant via dashboards.
Converged power and process management systems also provide benefits to day-to-day business operations:
- Enhanced decision making – More data does not imply more intelligence, unless the data is correlated and presented in a way that facilitates appropriate action. A converged power and process system offers operators a three-dimensional approach that integrates process data, safety data and electrical data. Integration between electrical control system and the process control system not only provides enriched awareness to the control room operator, but also facilitates an integrated workflow that spans across two domains of control systems in the plant.
- Reduced operator errors – Process operators are often unaware of the electrical system events that impact their process, and in many cases, are not trained enough to respond to unexpected power failures. A converged power and process system would prevent an operator from starting a process load that impacts the electrical network in a negative manner. The system would also help the operator to use alternative start sequences to avoid electrical network disturbance, depending on the real-time state of the electrical network.
- Reduced plant downtime – Intelligent fast load shedding (iFLS) provides instantaneous load reduction in response to a system disturbance resulting in a generation deficiency condition. Such action keeps the remaining portion of the electrical network operational. In converged system scenario process operators have full visibility to how the iFLS system is affecting (or will affect in terms of planned actions) their process loads.
Convergence is moving the Oil & Gas industry from simple automation of processes and equipment to a holistic improvement of their bottom line. To learn more about the benefits of merging process and power management systems download the newly released Schneider Electric white paper “Integrating Process and Power Automation: A Value for the Oil & Gas Industry”.