In the future, field devices will take care of themselves, providing real-time analysis of process data and predicting equipment failures reliably. This way, maintenance can act exactly where and when its needed, exchanging a component hours before a potential failure instead of replacing equipment, which is working fine, on a regular basis for safety reasons.
Shorter standstills and turnaround, better production planning and management, longer run-times and the elimination of unplanned shutdowns are only some of the benefits that intelligent maintenance concepts offer for the industry.
As of today, 25 % of chemical operators are already using preventive maintenance concepts, a recent IS-Report study stated. Further 25 % plan on establishing these concepts with the near future. The concept of Maintenance 4.0 could make its way into modular engineering, should these technologies be coupled with uniform automation and software solutions or remote control systems.
It’s all About the Interface
Even the construction kit system is not conceivable without networking: Skids, package units and process modules must communicate with each other, the control system and the operator. Common and open standard interfaces can thus become the backbone of a centralised process control, automation and asset management for remote and decentralised production. Urgent action is amandatory: Even the optimistic VDI presumes that in the future, modularization and interface standardization will stand or fall together.
In their recommendation NE 148 the Namur (User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries) pleaded for an autonomous, decentralized control which is in a position to monitor internal process sequences independently. As one of the first practical implementations, Wago presented the concept of “Decentralized intelligence of modular plants” (DIMA) in 2014, which is based on open and manufacturer-independent communication standards and architectures with decentralized automation.
The circle is complete: The same networking that helps mega plants to spring to life, is also the spine of the chemicals factory in the container. Besides the process technology, automation is the decisive enabler of modern production concepts, irrespective of the scale. In plant manufacture therefore, David and Goliath do not face each other so irreconcilably. Whether large projects score with their immense scaling effects or whether the refined special academy promotes a flexibility that only modular concepts can offer — the nerve centre is always intelligent and network systems.