Plant Management/Safety Augment the Safety Aspect: How Process Control Becomes a Plant Safety Cornerstone
Enhanced plant management helps to realize smooth and safe operation — Maintaining a safe operating state is essential in process industries, as any incident or malfunction may have fatal consequences. State-of-the-art control technology is designed to supervise and control a process within a defined and safe operating state. But there are always risks for deviation caused by interruptions or unplanned conditions. Plant personnel need to be aware of differences between actual and planned operating states — and eventually to take action to quickly bring the process back under control.
Reliable, well supervised plants maximize production, on-time delivery and product quality, thus generating higher gross profits. Additionally, they minimize risks of injury, production loss, additional costs or incidents. But how do we ensure safe operation?
Let’s look at a well performing plant: Here, the assets and ressources are used to their best potential, precisely where they are really needed. Operation and production are at a maximum:
- Optimum output with excellent production quality
- Optimum use of resources and high plant availability
- Less wear and tear
“Today’s global economy demands a high level of flexibility. This essentially means that almost no plant operates ‘as planned’, but several modifications are made,” states Dr. Jürgen Hess, Senior Account Manager at Siemens Engineering and Consulting. “Various improvements in technology as well as more sophisticated chemical processing processes mean that it is necessary to identify deviations from normal operation states early on — and to evaluate their root causes, while simultaneously determining the possible impact on plant operation.”
The ongoing analysis and visualization of key performance indicators (KPIs) allows to access the effectiveness of plants and machinery. Suitable indicators are obtained by examining control and equipment settings and performance, or by evaluating quality and energy data. Summarizing, the first step towards a successful plant management is presenting meaningful information in a user-centric fashion for extended decision support.
State-of-the-art visualization illustrates important parameters with hybrid display instruments, a combination of digital and analog technology. Examples are graphic objects such as Spider (Kiviat) charts with a variable number of value axis or trend charts with bar graphs. They support operators during routine duties as well intervention in critical situations. Furthermore, they reduce the complexity of process flow diagrams, creating situation awareness, navigating operators quickly to the point where attention is required.