Ethernet Automation Unmodified Ethernet Makes its Way Into Process Automation

Author / Editor: ABANIBHUSAN BERA / Dominik Stephan

Emerging functionalities such as voice, video and a range of mobility applications are beginning to appear in the plant environment; unleashing new opportunities for collaboration throughout the manufacturing environment. Today, a common control platform deployed plant-wide can reduce integration costs, time to market and maintenance costs.

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Process automation, that controls the different process parameters, leads to less variability in the process, thereby producing consistent quality product. Now ethernet solutions are widely adopted in process plants.
Process automation, that controls the different process parameters, leads to less variability in the process, thereby producing consistent quality product. Now ethernet solutions are widely adopted in process plants.
(Picture: Rockwell Automation)

India's chemical industry is quite old, and has gained maturity over time. In order to discuss the progress of adoption of ‘IT and Automation in Chemical Industry’ in India, we need to first recognise that the chemical industry has a wide spectrum – and can be classified broadly in three sub-segments: Basic, Speciality and Knowledge Chemicals.

The progress of adoption is different in different sub-segments; e.g., in petrochemicals sector – dominated by the three major players like Reliance, Haldia Petrochemical and GAIL – the adoption is at very high level.

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Automation in the Chemical Industry Depends on the Branch

It is also to be remembered – that the level of implementation of IT and automation within the different chemical industry sub-segments depends upon the scale as well as the requirement of the particular sub-segment.

The understanding and implementation of technology is much higher in chemical industry in comparison with other industry verticals. Historically, the chemical industry – majority of which deal with hazardous chemicals – has not only to have complex controls but also has to have safety aspect. Modern scenarios are by no mean less challenging...

Consequently, this industry is quite ahead of other industries so far as the adoption and implementation of modern technologies like IT, process automation and advanced process control are concerned.

While process plant automation enhances product quality, improves process safety and plant availability, and helps in the efficient use of resources – IT helps in increasing productivity, efficiency, and achieving contemporary regulatory compliance.

Pharmaceutical Industry: IT Automation is the Best Remedy

Let us take the example of pharmaceutical industry as one of the sectors under Knowledge Chemical: in order to achieve regulatory compliance, keeping pace with technological advances and need for rise in productivity, IT solutions are being increasingly implemented in this sector. Some of the popular IT solutions being implemented by pharmaceutical industry, and for that matter by other chemical industries are:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS)
  • Sales Force Automation (SFA)
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)

Now chemical industry in India is using IT extensively in Equipment Design, Chemical Engineering and Process Simulation for the purpose of reducing the product and process development time.

IT and Automation to Reduce Production Costs

As chemical industry processes chemicals, especially those dealing with hazardous chemicals, it has to depend on process automation to a great extent. So far as advantages of automation are concerned, this could be attributed to the following:

  • Higher production rates
  • Increased productivity
  • Efficient use of materials
  • Better product quality
  • Improved safety
  • Shorter workweeks for labour and reduced factory lead times.

Any Chief Executive Officer or entrepreneur of the chemical industry will say that “Higher output and increased productivity” justify the use of automation.

Ethernet, IT Solutions and Automation – The Safe and Secure Benefit

Process automation, that controls the different process parameters, leads to less variability in the process, thereby producing consistent quality product. This ensures efficient use of materials resulting in lesser scrap – meaning reduction of cost of product.

Automation in chemical plants helps a company maintain regulatory compliance by improving safety, which in turn reduces production down time, relieves workers from injuries, and eliminates associated costs of litigation and damage to environment.

All these are helping a chemical company in reducing cost in an indirect way by extensive use of automation. IT in chemical industry not only reduces cost by way of reducing product and process development time, but also IT applications like MES provide real time information from automation layers including information exchanged with ERP to the “Right people, at the right time”, in the “right context” anywhere from system for better informed business decision. All these ultimately reduce cost by some way or the other.

India – Playing by the Rules of Globalisation

As the Indian industry is now linked to the global industry and no more operates isolatedly – the chemical industry too is no exception. Globalsation has already impacted and will also be going to impact the Indian chemical industry, which will drive the Indian chemical companies to adopt more and more of IT and automation to align themselves with the global standards. It can be said without any doubt that the economic, organisational and technological trends will lead the chemical industry to be increasingly dependent on the implementation of IT and automation.

From the Automation Industry's Perspective

Rockwell Automation is a global control and automation company serving the entire spectrum of process industries like Chemical, Petrochemicals, Fertilisers, Life Sciences, Oil & Gas etc. We call the IT and Automation solution for chemical process plants “Manufacturing Convergence.”

The four major market drivers for any industry, chemical plants being no exception, are:

  • Productivity
  • Globalisation;
  • Innovation
  • and Sustainability

We help enterprises meet above four market drivers by merging manufacturing and production systems with the rest of the corporate enterprise. Rockwell Automation is heavily investing, and is committed to invest in convergence-ready products, services, partnerships and expertise necessary in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Integrated Control and Power (ICP) disciplines to drive convergence quickly and effectively.

Successful Manufacturing Convergence leverages the four core automation disciplines of Information, Communications, Control and Power. We are helping the industry recognise the value of Manufacturing Convergence – driving it beyond Manufacturing and IT across the four disciplines:

  • Information: In manufacturing, the old goal was turning data into information. The new goal is presenting information in context – delivering insight for better decision-making and exposing competitive opportunities. Traditionally, a wide variety of legacy systems and disparate sources generated data. Today, all the information sources can be streamlined to enable configuration, visualisation, maintenance and optimisation of manufacturing processes and critical plant assets.
  • Communications: Communications bind all the other automation disciplines together. Communication is no longer limited to device-level wiring and proprietary networks. Business value flourishes when IT and manufacturing departments can share information seamlessly and securely, while running multiple applications over the same network. Today, standard, unmodified Ethernet is being adopted broadly across the plant and enterprise for data collection and real-time control. Emerging functionality such as voice, video and a range of mobility applications are beginning to appear in the plant environment; unleashing new opportunities for collaboration throughout the manufacturing environment.
  • Control: Thanks to multiple control disciplines, control functions can be combined as the application demands. Today, a common control platform deployed plant-wide can reduce integration costs, time to market and maintenance costs.
  • Power: The control and management of power equipment in a plant is a competitive advantage in a world with spiking energy and downtime costs. Converging these assets into the broader automation environment allows for greater coordination and optimisation of these strategic assets.

* The author is Industry Sales Manager (Oil & Gas), Rockwell Automation India.

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