your letters | Readers Respond

Newbie engineers

In response to "Enabling new automation engineers" (Process Automation, January/February InTech), I would like to add that "newbie" engineers (automation or otherwise) should get to know their I&E, I&C technicians or electricians. The technicians can be a tremendous help in getting to know the nuts and bolts of the plant or control system and learning how to properly formulate questions. Just walking new engineers through something as simple as temperature control loop calibration gives an idea of a system - not so much the theory, but the infrastructure that supports the P&IDs. Walking new engineers through a company's management of change process gives them the familiarity with the plant's change procedures. Tossing their first simple project at the I&E group (seeing what sticks to the wall) with no prints, documentation (other than what came in the flow transmitter box), or redlined P&IDs gets everyone off on the wrong foot.

David Minton

First implementation fears

Regarding "Selling automation" (Talk to Me, January/February InTech), I agree that, yes, with anything in life, to be first to come or first to get is always an advantageous situation. I fully endorse Editor Bill Lydon's statement, "Learning, evaluating, and applying new technology so your company has a competitive advantage is a fundamental task for automation engineers." We are experiencing this with galloping success.

My company M/S Reliance Industries Ltd. has got the world's largest refining complex (63MMTPA) in Jamnagar, India. We have two big oil refining complexes at the same place, and large petrochemical plants are in the project stage, including off-gas ethylene cracker, ethylene glycol, low-density polyethylene, linear low density polyethylene, butyl rubber, coke gasification, acetic acid plant, large PX plant, benzene recovery, and others. The beauty is that we have the presence of all the OEMs, not only in the field automation but also all kinds of equipment and technology of the world. Even after having the world leaders in process industry automation - Emerson, Honeywell, Invensys, Yokogawa, Rockwell, and ABB - we successfully convinced our management to implement Foundation Fieldbus. Our operations and maintenance team are enjoying the fruits of the same.

Yes, the management had their fear: "first implementation with so many vendors' products online together may pose problems in interface protocol during commissioning and steady-state operations!" But we, the automation fraternity, had confidence and succeeded with the fullest cooperation and services of all the suppliers. So this is a team effort and success story.

A. Ramanathan 

Inspirational reading

"Innovation, education, and experience prepare leaders for automation industry future" (Young Innovators, November/December InTech) was a most inspiring article for young automation professionals. I much appreciated the author [Prabhu Soundarrajan] sharing his experiences.


Control in the field

I have only one query regarding "Modernization projects reduce field service cost" (Process Automation, September/October InTech): The author [Larry O'Brien] states, "There is evidence to support that control in the field has an 80 percent increase in meantime between failures compared to traditional DCS control." I would like to know more about this evidence and supporting documents because it is really interesting. Also I would like to know Foundation Fieldbus technology uses for SIS (SIF), for which TUV have given their views also in recent days.

Amit Singh
Larry O'Brien, Fieldbus Foundation global marketing manager replied:

Foundation Fieldbus received type approval from TUV several years ago. That means you can build safety devices and host system logic solvers based on Foundation Fieldbus, and we successfully demonstrated that technology back in 2008 at multiple installations, including Shell Amsterdam, BP Gelsenkirchen, Saudi Aramco, and Chevron. Now the challenge is for suppliers to successfully bring products and host systems to market. Admittedly we have been waiting a while for this to happen, but developing a new safety instrument or logic solver is not a fast process, and products will typically have to be certified by TUV or exida before they come to the Fieldbus Foundation for testing and registration. We are ready at the Fieldbus Foundation to test and register devices and hosts for Foundation for SIF once they come through. I am told that this will happen soon, but not having a window into the supplier development process it is hard to say exactly when. We do know that there are at least two pilot projects going on right now at two major end-user sites, so the demand is obviously there. Major end-users openly stated that they wish to use this technology on their new capital projects because it greatly reduces the installed cost of a safety system and provides superior device and network diagnostics via the "black channel" approach.

As for documentation regarding the savings related to control in the field, one of our biggest advocates is Shin Etsu PVC in Pernis, Netherlands. Shin-Etsu is the largest PVC manufacturer in the world. Vinyl chlo­ride monomer is piped from the company's manufacturing plant at Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to a facility in Pernis where PVC is produced. Shin-Etsu's initial Foun­dation Fieldbus installation consisted of 35 Fieldbus segments in a Zone 2 hazardous area, using control in the field. Shin Etsu has reported to us that they have avoided at least two unplanned shutdowns because of control in the field. UK-based firm Indus­trial Systems and Control Ltd. (ISC, released a study called "Con­trol in the Field: Analysis of Performance Benefits." In a series of illustrative simula­tion studies, ISC determined that control in the field has the potential to offer improved control loop performance due to its ability to offer faster sample rates and shorter la­tencies in the read-execute-write cycle of a control loop. ISC examined the differences in timing and sequencing associated with control in the field versus a scheme employ­ing control in the DCS to establish typical latencies and sample rates that limit control performance. Many different scenarios and process dynamics were tested. While benefits of increased integrity, flexibility, and reliability can be attributed to all control in the field loops, ISC found that control loop performance benefits can be quite significant in fast process loops.