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With over twenty years deploying advancing technologies, microprocessor based Distributed Control Systems (DCS) are now powerful assets for new and modernized power plants. Historically, Power Generators depend on the control system to provide the most reliable means for control, operational efficiency and advanced process optimization. The latest DCS designs are now available to support plant owners with new business goals to improve overall effectiveness in operations as well as optimizing maintenance routines at the plant level and even across an entire corporate fleet. Recalling only a short time ago, mid 1990’s, the primary industry push was for open systems. Now, not only has the open system goal been met but it has been greatly surpassed to a point that the control system now provides ‘secure open system’ that is ‘tightly integrated’ and at every level from field I/O to corporate networks. This technical paper provides an overview of control systems and how they have evolved to provide the most current technologies available now. The paper reflects upon system requirements being driven by plant developers, industry standard groups and owners, and also explains how to tightly couple the control system with smart and predictive maintenance applications. The ‘secure open system’ is important for Power Generators who are most interested in improving O&M for their plants while maximizing return on investment for their control system. Finally, based on emerging technology, a look at possible future evolutions in control systems is discussed.
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