Across the power generation industry, successful efficiency-driven projects require: 1) technology standardization, 2) process simplification and 3) tool integration. A core driver for developing these three efficiency elements is the reinvention of control engineering processes and the software tools that support key business systems. In fact, new, digitized engineering tools will drive much of the ongoing digital transformation for years to come. Reliance on older tools increases the complexity and cost of systems integration and this complexity often fuels production errors.
This evolution in efficiency involves the move from analog to digital within both power industry Distributed Control Systems (DCS) and across new modern variants, such as the hybrid DCS (HDCS). These new engineering tools enable control logic algorithms that would have been impossible or highly complex to implement in the analog world. Now it is possible for engineers to configure and operate an entire automation system based on the distributed control system.
Business advantages include numerous speed and productivity gains:
- Engineering time and cost are reduced through the use of simplified data import / export capabilities, multi-user interfaces, engineering traceability capabilities, and push-of-a-button change propagation. Standardized segment-specific libraries also speed up application development.
- Downtime-related errors are reduced through the use of runtime navigation services that identify the root causes of operational issues and that sequence events in order to identify the source of equipment faults.
- Simulation capabilities enable engineers to test applications before they are implemented. By testing design concepts in a simulation mode, optimization of systems is made easier, with less risk of error.
- A scalable architecture allows for lower-up front capital cost while the users still enjoy the benefits of a higher availability system.
- Rich access to asset information such as operational performance data and runtime hours allows for more efficient maintenance procedures, lower maintenance costs and increasing systems uptime.
In order to support the power generation industry, tested, validated and documented libraries, populated with reusable objects, have been developed to serve as a base for application engineers to design and build power generation control systems.
New templates help drive faster project execution
In order to leverage the power of these libraries, up to 15 pre-tested and validated templates can be linked together in combination to address the needs of multi-process areas such as boilers, steam turbines, and coal handling plants. These templates can be applied to hydro, thermal, or biomass power generation environments. Process templates composed in older projects can be imported to recreate similar applications in new projects, thereby significantly reducing new project workloads.
Whenever application engineers want to update any of the application functionality, or refine and enhance the logic, much of the legwork is already completed. Rather than having to develop functions that control switchgear, valves, drives, motors and other key infrastructure devices from scratch, the templates help to link the preprogrammed objects, making the coding exercise simple and straightforward. This helps expedite delivery speeds and reduces project implementation time, errors, and cost.
Such templates also provide value to systems operators by providing consistency in operation. If an operator moves from one plant to another, for example, the look and feel of the interfaces they work with are the same. Therefore, they require no supplemental training. In addition, since the materials in the libraries and templates are pre-tested, validated, and utilized during runtime, system response times and overall performance are enhanced. All these benefits translate into plants that are managed more efficiently, and downtime is reduced.
Benefits include higher efficiency and reduced human error
The new tools assist both application engineers and plant operators. Engineers need to log asset information only once. Thus, fewer errors are generated and no redundant data entry is required. The system design then follows the control instrumentation diagram, making the controls design, installation and commissioning easier. When control systems are configured correctly the first time, overall project costs are lowered and tangible increases in productivity and efficiency are realized.
Plant operators enjoy fast runtime benefits allow for more efficient management of the plant and reduced downtime. An optimized application workflow allows for faster learning and fewer operational error.
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