Assembling a startup team for success

Dec 16, 2014 5:38:00 AM | Posted by Ryan Harris

Most traditional startup teams are comprised of process engineers, controls engineers, electricians, and mechanists—but don't forget to consider plant personnel, too.

What makes up a great startup team? Many traditional teams are comprised of process engineers, controls engineers, electricians, and mechanists. However, there are additions to the team that should be considered, like plant personal operators, and even shift managers.

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Integrating third-party systems with a DCS

Dec 10, 2014 6:16:00 AM | Posted by Tony Kolluri

Several considerations need to be made when interfacing a distributed control system (DCS) to a third-party system, including the choice between using SCADA or peer-control solutions.

Interfacing a distributed control system (DCS) to a third-party system—let’s say a programmable logic controller (PLC)—is most commonly done via SCADA or peer-control using various communication protocols. While it appears that it’s just a task of getting the data ‘in’ to the DCS, several considerations need to be made to understand the purpose, the data interaction with the DCS points, and the criticality of the data.

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Managing CIP Connections

Dec 2, 2014 8:34:00 AM | Posted by John Boyd

Properly managing your control system CIP connections can help avoid confusion and other complications within a process automation project.

Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) is used on industrial automation application networks—such as Ethernet/IP, DeviceNet, and ControlNet—and is supported by ODVA. A CIP connection is a connection between two devices on a CIP-enabled network. This could be between two programmable automation controllers (PACs), between a PAC and a communication module, or between a remote rack communication module and an analog card in its rack (see Figure 1).

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Using programming standards to navigate your process

Nov 26, 2014 3:31:00 AM | Posted by John Athy

A definite set of programming and HMI standards can alleviate the burden of navigating your controls process from start to finish.

Imagine you had to navigate from one corner of London to the opposite corner, using only a map. No problem, but what if each square mile of this map was designed by a separate person using different scales, symbols, and languages. Now the task becomes more daunting.

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When “Just Fine” Isn’t Good Enough: HMI Design and Development

Nov 24, 2014 6:53:00 AM | Posted by Chad Harper

“Please don’t talk to me about technologies that can improve my plant’s performance. I can’t stand the idea of disrupting my current situation with anything new, even if it’s better.”

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Factory acceptance testing with system simulators

Nov 18, 2014 7:56:00 AM | Posted by Jeff Wood

System simulators allow developers to test most of a new control system, but not the entire system. See 6 tips for the factory acceptance test (FAT) phase of your project.

Virtual machines and control system simulation have been a great help in checking out systems during development. These have allowed the developer to be able to check out the control system code prior to installation. Most factory acceptance tests (FATs) are conducted using a simulated system or part of the real system that will be used for final installation. Over the past several years I have developed several new plant control systems using system simulators. Although this allows the developer to check out most of the system it does not check out the entire system.

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Hazards encountered in industrial automation

Nov 11, 2014 5:39:00 AM | Posted by Evan Pederson

Recognizing safety hazards is important in any work environment—in the office, commissioning on the factory floor, or in the middle of construction. See 5 tips on avoiding common vulnerabilities.

Safety is a topic we hear about often in the modern workplace. Industry rules and standards about equipment and procedures address common risks, and are continually evolving to address new ones. But one
component of safety that depends on the individual is the need to stay aware of one’s surroundings. Learning what things to be on the lookout for is therefore critical, and it’s an ongoing process.

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Separating good code from bad: The "paper-and-pencil" method

Nov 4, 2014 6:23:00 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

As the digital age continues to grow, the automation industry keeps up with upgrading or replacing control systems. When migrating, try the simple paper-and-pencil method to
help identify programming issues.

In society today, computer technology has become ever present. We use smartphones, tablets, laptops, the internet, web pages, and smart TVs. The digital age is certainly all around us. The automation world has also been moving in that direction for over 25 years.

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