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A distributed control system acts as the central brain of an industrial operation. It coordinates and controls the process subsystems located in an industrial operation in real-time.
Distributed control systems control complex processes and can coordinate processes in large manufacturing plants while providing top-down control.
Subsystems, such as sensors or data collection devices, communicate with the distributed control system through the plant’s communication network. The distributed control system reads and interprets production trends to make an automated decision and send instructions to individual controllers, actuators, and other industrial equipment, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), throughout the plant.
What is a DCS versus a PLC?
The main difference between a PLC and a distributed control system (DCS) is scale.
A PLC is designed to control one or a small handful of production processes. Once programmed, a PLC will perform actions in response to various inputs to regulate industrial production. PLCs are ruggedized to facilitate operation in harsh industrial conditions, such as extreme temperatures or vibrations.
While PLCs are becoming increasingly sophisticated, they cannot run an entire plant. Instead, a DCS is used as the primary operations that monitors, supervises and sends instructions to potentially thousands of PLCs at once.
Advantages of a DCS
A DCS monitors and controls thousands of control loops in real-time. It enables applications such as production scheduling, preventative maintenance scheduling, and information exchange.
A DCS facilitates the geographical distribution of subsystems throughout your plant. When used correctly, a DCS can monitor or improve operational features such as:
- Risk of subsystem failure
Operators can also make changes, input manual overrides, or manually react to alarms or other signals as they see fit. Most DCS include dashboard displays that show trends, process graphics, production values, alarms, and other information in a way that is easily readable by human operators.
Deciding factors for EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS
A conventional distributed control system has limitations. Innovation becomes constrained, an embedded control logic restricts flexibility, the hardware and software is proprietary, and any major changes to the system can be costly.
An open DCS is future-proof. EcoStruxure™ Foxboro DCS takes an inclusive, multi-vendor approach to process automation. In this way, customers are empowered to remain flexible, while increasing profits, meeting goals, and adapting to shifting market demands and changes in the supply chain.
Open process automation, based on IEC 61499 standards, through a cloud-based DCS stands out from closed systems in several ways:
- Automate non-value activities, reallocating employees to more innovative tasks
- Improved scalability and reduced IT cost
- Disruption avoidance
- Predictive infrastructure degradation
- Supply chain resiliency and obsolescence avoidance while increasing profitability
- Enable multi-vendor architectures through a software-centric approach
Many organizations are electing to create an open DCS, which enables next-generation automation through a software-centric architecture. With EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS, operators can infuse their facility with digital intelligence and interoperability to achieve industrial sustainability.
Open means flexibility
Industrial organizations will continue to face certain challenges. Areas like customer demands, sustainability regulations, and efficiency targets can be navigated using a cutting-edge DCS. This technology empowers organizations to be flexible and scalable.
To remain competitive, businesses must produce quality products more efficiently and economically while being able to adapt to shifts in the market and changing world conditions. Meanwhile, operators will have to be adaptable to stringent regulatory requirements set by governments, as well as consumer expectations.
And then there’s the ability to remain adaptable through unpredictable business conditions. The ability to leverage new technological advancements in an ultra-fast way, while also reducing operational risks, is made possible through open architectures like EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS.