Capturing Operations Data
The company turned to Rockwell Automation to help design, engineer and deploy an alarm-management system for the processing plant to meet its goals.
“The plant already had an installed base of Rockwell Automation controls, creating the opportunity for seamless integration,” the control specialist explained. “Total cost of ownership and long-term support were also big plusses that made Rockwell Automation the best choice for the upgrade.”
The first step in the alarm-system upgrade was a comprehensive assessment of the plant’s system, including identifying all current alarms. Then a team of corporate engineers, plant control operators, IT staff and Rockwell Automation specialists turned to the rationalization phase. This involved reviewing each alarm to determine if it was necessary and assigning priorities for those that would remain in place.
“In some cases, we took alarms out, sometimes put them in,” the control specialist said. “But the absolute goal was making sure the right alarm is delivered to the operator at the right time and with the right information needed for a correct response.”
That goal was met with the installation of a new Allen-Bradley® ControlLogix® programmable automation controller (PAC) paired with the FactoryTalk® View SE HMI software from Rockwell Automation. The highly available supervisory-level HMI software provides comprehensive visualization of the plant’s operations.
To capture vital historical data, the company chose the FactoryTalk AssetCentre change-management software from Rockwell Automation. The software is a centralized tool for securing, managing, versioning, tracking and reporting automation-related asset information across the entire operation. With this software, the plant now can track users’ actions in detail to review any previous process changes. Equally important, the software connects to the enterprise network, providing executive insight into the operations on a macro level.
Informing Better Decisions
The plant team is still in the process of fully implementing the new system. Meanwhile, the number of alarms at the plant has been reduced from 1,500 to around 1,000.
The plant already is reaping the benefits of getting the right information to the right person at the right time.
“We’ve eliminated the bursts of nuisance alarms that were so distracting to operators,” the control specialist said. “The new system also gives us all the information we need to determine whether an alarm is critical or lower priority."
Production has improved because operators have a more precise view of processes across the plant. Now, they can quickly and easily adjust gas-processing equipment and parameters for optimum efficiency and safety.
“If we have two pumps running and we only need one, based on the current flow of gas, we can turn the other one off and save money,” the control specialist explained. “If operators see a high-level alarm on a scrubber, they can control the variables needed to normalize production.”
With historical information at their fingertips, operators can also see the sequence of events before an alarm occurred to help understand the cause. Corporate engineers can also access that historical data to make better long-term decisions.
“They can use that data to see how the facility was running six months ago compared to today, and answer questions like, ‘Why aren’t we making as much money?’,” the control specialist said.
“The cost savings can be counted in pennies,” he added. “But our business is about pennies – lots of pennies.”
The results mentioned above are specific to this company’s use of Rockwell Automation products and services in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.
Allen-Bradley, ControlLogix, and FactoryTalk, are trademarks of Rockwell Automation Inc.