Plant automation Interview: Paradigm Change in Process Plant Automation

Author / Editor: PRASANTA KUMAR CHATTERJEE / Dominik Stephan

Indian decision makers are now aware of the benefits of the advanced automation solutions. Still some of them hesitate to invest in it. Mitin Patel, Managing Director, Prima Automation (India) talks to PROCESS India on the best ways to evaluate, select and implement an automation technology in the new process plants.

Panels have become the most essential part of any automation package today,” feels Patel.
Panels have become the most essential part of any automation package today,” feels Patel.
(Picture: Prima Automation (India))

PROCESS: What kind of paradigm shift are you observing these days among the Indian process plant owners?

MITIN PATEL: Earlier the industry was to adopt advanced automation systems, and preferred bare minimum automation. Also, they chose manual override controls wherever automation was used.

But, the industry has become automation–friendly now. People are comfortable with a single HMI/Computer to run the entire plant. Operators, who were scared of specifying PLC for a complicated system are now asking PLC for even the smallest application.

Due to globalisation, they have good amount of exposure of advanced controls. Therefore, the industry’s attitude has completely changed, and it has started adopting advanced automation products.

“Panels Have Become Essential Part of Any Package”

Which are the areas drawing higher focus?

PATEL: Today, panels have become the most essential part of any package. Specifications of panels run in more number of pages than the main equipment. Customers are well aware of their requirements, may be it is degree of weather protection (IP55, IP65 etc.) or type of hazard protection (Ex-d, Ex-e, Ex-p etc.), sheet steel specifications, pretreatment and paint specifications are very much stringent.

Twenty per cent spare space, 300mm minimum space from bottom, 10 per cent installed pares etc., have become very common. Safety requirements like SIL2 and SIL3 are coming up frequently. Requirement of safety certified professionals, PQN, ISO9001, ISO18001 and OHSAS is becoming compulsory to be qualified to manufacture control panels for reputed customers and consultants of process industry.

How to Assess Process Plant Requirements?

How do you assess the exact requirement of a particular type of process plant?

PATEL: We have a detailed specification format for taking customers’ inputs for designing automation systems for their plants. The specification covers description of the entire process, functional requirement, automation requirement, management of plant, safety etc.

To achieve this, a number of inputs like sensors, front controls, feedback, and number of outputs like motors, actuators, solenoids etc., are decided. Accordingly, P&I diagrams are made, which indicate process and instrumentation to be used.

For each process like gas, water, oil etc., we make a separate P&I. Further documents like GA drawings of panels, wiring schematics, bill of material, interface drawings, cable schedule, PLC IO list, cause and effect diagrams, loop diagrams, logic diagrams, DCS mapping etc., are also prepared. On approval, panels are built and PLC software and SCADA screens are developed.