Virtual Plant

Best Practices for Virtualization in Process Automation

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Prominent Examples and Best Practices

Industries such as food & beverages, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and water management have already begun to deal with the topic. The implementation can be considered in more detail with specific, prominent examples from some of these industries.

The pharmaceutical industry is driven by its variety of products and the resulting frequent product changes, which require a great deal of coordination between the IT world and production. One particular aspect is the subject of validation. Whereas in the past the initial investment for a validated system included a few computers as spare parts, today, these costs as well as those for the corresponding storage space can be saved through hardware virtualization. What is different here:

  • Servers (for OS and Batch), which would be formed by separate server pairs in a real world environment, are distributed over two separate host systems for reasons of availability.
  • Access from the virtual office environment to virtual long-term archives and reporting systems is provided by Web mechanisms.
  • Administration costs are reduced through consistent expansion of the IT infrastructure with regard to virtualization, from the office to the production plant.

There is a lot of pressure on costs in the area of water management, particularly in the operation of the plants by municipalities. The aspect of plant distribution is also a factor, not only in terms of geography, but also hierarchy for remote access of regional and district centers to central waterworks. The special considerations here are:

  • consolidation of the entire control system server infrastructure in one data center;
  • flexible access to a virtual Web server by up to 50 Web clients;
  • optimized plant operation through the implementation of the PCS 7 operator concept: access rights for clients in the main control room, the higher-level regional and district centers and local panels;
  • interaction between clients in the control room (virtual world) and local panels (real world);
  • cost savings by using the IT infrastructure of the data center.