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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The value of field engineers

Jun 18, 2014 10:39:29 AM | Posted by Mike Robb

A good field engineer can help improve the process controls based on knowledge and experience, potentially saving money by being able to quickly diagnose problems.

Have you ever worked on a process that was designed based on a computer simulation model? The model can be a very effective design tool to predict how mechanical systems will react with one another. These predications can then be used to help with the design process to allow you to make control philosophy changes and correct problem areas within the control scheme. The models are typically used to assist in the feasibility of large scale process control changes to validate a new control philosophy but can be an expensive investment. There are also limitations—the model can only account for the variables that you know, and the more variables that are present the longer the model will take to solve.

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Plug-And-Play Doesn’t Happen By Luck

Mar 12, 2013 5:10:00 AM | Posted by Mike Robb

Have you ever worked on a project where several pieces of equipment from different manufacturers were purchased with the expectation that the equipment would just plug together and work? On small-scale items, that might be real possibility, but on a larger scale, such as an entire plant or a retrofit of a plant, assuming that everything will simply work can create serious problems. Success must be engineered. Once the mechanical issues are ironed out, there are multiple things to consider from a controls perspective, such as system integration for the different systems, control philosophy, and communication protocols, among other items.

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Power Plant Control Systems In A Smelter Complex

Sep 11, 2012 3:17:56 AM | Posted by Mike Robb

Isolating A Large Power Generating System When It’s Driving A Variable Load Creates Some Special Control Challenges

Power plant control systems have their own unique design issues, however when dealing with island systems, there are even more things to consider. Take for example a large aluminum smelter complex – such plants can have their own power generation facilities, as large as 2,000 MW, which is enough to power a small city.

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