While modernization and advances in technology can make life easier for operators and company personnel, it can often be a double-edged sword. Aging and outdated technologies in plants are frequently in need of upgrades and repairs, which can contribute to significant delays in workflow. No example is more relevant today than the problem companies face with their distributed control system (DCS). DCS is a computerized control system for a process or plant with many control loops, in which autonomous controllers are distributed throughout the system. Because DCS is an integral and essential component in day-to-day operations but is also becoming quickly outdated, it is more and more necessary for companies to consider DCS migration, which involves upgrading the system and processes to newer technologies. Below we’ll provide some common practices for DCS migration, weighing out the pros and cons of each.
With aging technology and systems along with the rise of cybersecurity risks, it is now more important than ever to keep your human-machine interface (HMI) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system safe. Here are a few simple steps you can use to minimize unplanned downtime and protect your organization and systems:
With a large fraction of the working populous constantly traveling, it is hard to routinely check-up and monitor various factory systems. However, the advent of remote monitoring technology - a tool that allows engineers and manufacturers to overlook and supervise the health and productivity of various machines - has proven to give companies a competitive edge.
Topics: Remote Monitoring
Because of the rigorous nature of the work and the heavy machinery involved, factories and manufacturing plants can often be dangerous working environments. Therefore, risk assessments - commonly known as the foundation of making a machine safer - are necessary to curb potential hazards. A risk assessment is a logical, step by step breakdown of a machines’ processes, separating all the individual hazards so as to be able to focus on one at a time. As the industry continues to grow and more machines enter the work environment, risk assessments are critical to quell potential hazards and keep workers safe.
While the general population may have an archaic understanding of the inner workings of a factory, the truth is that the smart factory revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, has taken leaps and bounds over the past several decades. The rise of automation and smart technologies are at the forefront of this revolution. However, in recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a mainstay in the future of Industry 4.0. While AI continues to drive automation, manufacturers are now looking at it to promote efficiency in a variety of new avenues.
With the complexities and dangers associated with heavy machinery in a factory or manufacturing plant, it is important to be well-versed in the language of machine safety. Below, we’ll expound on a few key terms that are integral to maintaining safe working conditions.
During the normal course of work, manufacturers must take special care to monitor the safety of the employees, instruments, and processes involved. Therefore, Safety Implemented Systems (SIS) are installed in process plants to reduce the possibility of hazards and return certain processes to a safe state in the case of an emergency. An SIS is used to maintain the safety of one or more Safety Instrumented Functions (SIF) as a safeguard against possible hazards. However, in order to oversee the longevity and safety of an SIS, an appropriate Safety Integrity Level (SIL) must be established. Each hazard that necessitates the use of an SIS must be given a target Safety Integrity Level.
Even though LEDs have proved their worth as energy efficient solution to lighting, the decades-old investment in conventional lighting fixtures has delayed their large-scale implementation. For the past few years, several of these legacy systems have started approaching their end-of-life, meaning they are being replaced by new technologies such as LEDs.
Topics: LED Lighting
The Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) has formed the backbone of all industrial automation operations since its introduction in the late 1960s. Modern PLCs have come a long way, incorporating several upgrades pertaining to processing power, peripherals and connectivity. Several manufacturing companies have extended upgrading cycles, meaning they let their systems work as is until a problem starts to surface. But once a problem does become apparent, an upgrade is necessary.
Discrete Sensors have existed in the automation & control landscape long before the advent of Programmable Logic Controllers, supplementing relay logic. The function of a discrete sensor is to send high/low, on/off or yes/no signals to the controller regarding the quantity of a physical parameter. The obvious benefit discrete sensors had over analog ones was the absence of deadband, detection speed, analog thresholds and other similar complexities.