In our previous post Why Oil & Gas Companies are Driving Towards Convergence of Power & Process Management Systems, we mentioned that recent Oil & Gas industry initiatives that integrate process & power management systems are largely inspired by production-driven operational cost savings. However, in a converged environment, the actual engineering time saved in both data mapping and managing of data through the industrial control hierarchy is often overlooked. System convergence, if properly planned and designed, can reduce complexity, and lower the risk of both engineer and operator error. As a result, power and process operations become safer, more efficient and more predictable.
When specifying work for converging a process/safety and power management system, a number of key considerations should be factored in. The recommended architecture should provide a common unified operational system in the control room. At the same time, provisions should be made for autonomous engineering and maintenance of safety, process and electric sub-functions within the converged systems, while facilitating unified cybersecurity and user management policies from plant to enterprise.
In the domain of specialized hardware and controllers, technology suppliers should be mandated to support open object-oriented interchange protocols including IEC61850. Connection points and gateways between the Energy Management Control System (EMCS) and the Integrated Control and Safety System (ICSS) should also be minimized.
Real-time interaction between process and electrical systems can be enabled with an appropriate unified supervisory layer or with an integrated control network layer. Here, the power and process disciplines can interact resulting in additional operational decision-making value.
When designing converged systems, a top priority should be the simplification. The creation of simpler and largely autonomous set of control systems should avoid duplicated architectural elements, and simplify interaction at an appropriate level while embracing standards.
A converged architecture should also be designed to allow diagnostic and asset reporting of smart controllers to bypass the control hierarchy. This allows the control hierarchy to be more responsive and more scalable and retains an independence of performance between the electrical and process control systems.
The following additional best practices are recommended when planning process and power management convergence projects:
- Use Ethernet communication – This facilitates the sharing of information between protection relays, PLCs, measurement units and distributed electrical devices. An open and connected system design means guaranteed compatibility with motor control solutions via intelligent variable speed drives.
- Build a system capable of load management – Critical loads need to remain connected and non-critical loads shed when necessary, and then restored only at the right time and in order of priority. If a fault in the system occurs, the system allows intelligent recreation of the network and avoids or limits the consequences of a major power outage.
- Develop accurate network models – The fundamental architecture must include a design where a central master network model is shared and updated across all operational systems, including the SCADA, DCS, ICSS, EMCS or other related systems.
- Design for operational efficiency – Improved efficiency can result from numerous best practices such as migrating to one common platform (HMI, Historians, Power Management, Engineering), eliminating or combining standalone components (servers, switches, converters, remote I/O, operator screens), and utilizing components that are standard between the Instrument and Controls (I&C) and electrical design.
Marketplace changes and technology advancements now make the once daunting task of power and process system convergence an attainable, cost justifiable goal. Factors such as electrical and instrumentation improvements, IEC61850 standard communication tools, transparent and open communication protocols (e.g. Ethernet IP, DeviceNet, and IEC61850 Manufacturing Message Specification), smart motor controllers, IED programming and storage capabilities, Standard Field Configurable I/O (FCIO), and Standard System Controller Cabinets, all have helped to remove major barriers to integration.
To learn more about methods for merging process and power management systems download the newly released Schneider Electric white paper “Integrating Process and Power Automation: A Value for the Oil & Gas Industry”.
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