Do I really need this alarm?

Jun 30, 2015 4:55:59 PM | Posted by Mike Robb

A common occurrence is an alarm being driven by code that is no longer being utilized. A periodic review of alarm philosophy should be conducted by third-party or plant maintenance employees.

Have you ever reviewed the list of standing alarms in your plant?  Do you see alarms that always seem to be cycling?  Are there multiple alarms that have indicated an alarm state for an extended period of time? Have operators silenced or disabled the alarms that are constantly going off? I have found numerous power plants that have forced off or silenced alarms due to the repeated activation just so they can put more focus on the 300 other active alarms during normal plant operations.  A review of the standing alarms often leaves you wondering which alarms the operator notices when overwhelmed with so many. So how do you make sure you have the right alarms in place?

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How Information Provides Insights and Changes Behaviors

Jun 25, 2015 12:43:00 PM | Posted by John Boyd

The challenge of gathering historical and real-time data is to provide that data back to the user in a way that provides insights. This can be accomplished by providing thought-out dashboards and reports to key operational personnel and managers.

We tend to put a lot of effort into gathering historical and real-time data in the industrial process environment. The challenge is to provide that data back to the user in a way that provides useful performance data. This can be accomplished by providing thoroughly thought-out dashboards and reports to key operational personnel and managers. It is amazing what behaviors that can be changed in a processing environment if everyone is given the right information.

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To alarm or not to alarm?

Jun 17, 2015 2:21:00 AM | Posted by Jeff Wood

Alarm rationalization is a step that should be taken to avoid the generation of unnecessary alarms. Otherwise the alarm may end up of the alarm list and stay there for a while.

To alarm or not to alarm? That is the question. There are many control room alarm screens with alarms that are hours, days, and sometimes weeks old. Why did these alarms show up on the screens if they were not important enough to address at the time they occurred? Was the operator in a hurry to acknowledge the alarm to stop the horn? Are there so many alarms that come in that the operator is overwhelmed by the number of alarms that come in. Are there multiple alarms for the same signal or occurrence? Is the alarm just not that important?

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User-defined function best practices

Jun 10, 2015 5:20:00 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

When designing the UDF, there are some questions that need to be considered.

Modern automation controllers continue to expand with options and opportunities for the programmer. One of those improvements is the ability to develop User-Defined Functions (UDF), or Add-On Instructions in the Rockwell Automation ecosystem. These improve portability, consistency, and code security, all of which add to the kit of the automation programmer. Like all tools they can be used properly or abused; who hasn’t pried the lid off of a can of paint with a ‘screwdriver’? I’d like to take a moment and discuss some of the options and opportunities that these constructs offer and some of the Best Practices that should be employed.

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Do your progress meetings hinder progress?

Jun 2, 2015 9:32:00 AM | Posted by Fcedotal

Learn how to keep track of the massive programming efforts by using agile software development techniques.

Have you been asked to report your progress in percent complete, while what you really want to say is “Leave me alone, I’ll be ready for startup.” There is an axiom in software development that says: 80% of the code takes 20% of the time and 20% of the code takes 80% of the time. Part of the reason is that the bulk of coding is things that are clear and you know how to do, so you speed through it. But the parts that you don’t know how to do take much longer to figure out. So, how do you really know where you are when you get finished with the parts that you know how to do?

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5 tips for planning a successful automation project deployment

May 20, 2015 4:16:00 AM | Posted by Jason Montroy

Project deployment is a critical time in the life cycle of a process automation project. It follows design/development and precedes startup/commissioning. During this project stage, the process automation team ‘deploys’ the applications they have written and tested with the customers into the plant’s systems and hardware.

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Still learning about process automation

May 13, 2015 4:33:00 AM | Posted by MayAnn Stroup

No matter how long someone has been a part of the process automation industry; there is always something new to learn and new strategies to employ.

Earlier this year a colleague surprised me by complaining about needing to learn a new control system: “I’m 48 years old. I thought by this time in my life I would know all I needed to know about my profession.” What an amazing idea! That may be possible for some fields, but it’s not the case for process automation.

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Human machine interface (HMI) design: It takes more than just pretty pictures

May 6, 2015 3:18:00 AM | Posted by Dave Cortivo

HMI design isn’t just about being creative, it has to take into account who will be seeing it on a regular basis and what it will be used for.

In order to insure successful implantation, effective HMI design should start with the same proper planning as any other project. Just making an HMI look like the real think is not always the best answer. HMIs are present in a great deal of applications, which leads to multiple lessons that should be taken into consideration when starting a new design project. Often times, designers overlook what they could have learned from past designs (and even mistakes) until it’s too late. It is imperative that information from accidents from the past are used to insure success in the future. Arming yourself with simple rules from lessons learned on the how to communicate to operations is extremely important to the success of your project.

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