As oil and gas facilities deal with aging power-distribution systems, intelligent packaged power can provide insight-rich data for performance improvement.
By Dan Pender, Rockwell Automation
Oil and gas processing facility resources around the world are feeling the pain of relying on aging power-distribution systems. The effects of outmoded electrical infrastructures include:
- Reduced productivity caused by unplanned downtime.
- Safety risks posed by faltering equipment.
- Workers stressed and stretched by the perpetual need for troubleshooting.
The conventional solution has been to replace old equipment with essentially newer versions of the same components and controls. However, because we’re in the digital age, relying on a replacement-in-kind strategy is a big missed opportunity for oil and gas companies.
When you instead replace hard-wired equipment with digital solutions, and integrate the electrical equipment into the plant control system, you gain access to critical operations intelligence that can help contain costs and get the most from your assets. You can identify equipment patterns that help you improve maintenance plans. And most important, earlier visibility into potential failure events helps you reduce the need to send employees on-site to address issues.
With the availability of intelligent devices, replacing old hard-wired electrical systems with a state-of-the-art digital platform integrated with your process-control solution can provide many business benefits. New intelligent packaged power capabilities can provide unprecedented functionality.
One of the biggest features is real-time visibility into performance of your electrical assets. Replacing hard-wired equipment with digitally enabled devices can help speed decision-making and issue resolution. Consider: Even before an alarm sounds, plant personnel could be alerted to a potential motor failure and begin performing repairs — prior to the failure impacting productivity, worker safety or equipment performance.
Also, when you connect your intelligent electrical devices (IEDs), you can support remote monitoring — which means your subject matter expertise can be located anywhere in the world.
Remote monitoring also improves worker safety. For example, high-voltage substations pose serious hazards to personnel. But with an intelligent, integrated electrical system, technicians working at a safe distance could quickly determine the source of an event or alarm — even from a smart phone — and take corrective action without endangering themselves or others.
Power of Unification
Unified data, available in real time, also positions you to better understand and manage energy consumption.
These benefits are altering the electrical landscape in heavy industries. In fact, according to an ARC Advisory Group study, 67% of new plants implemented intelligent devices as part of their overall electrical system. The more smart devices in your electrical system, the more informed you can become.
To take it a step further, you can combine your electrical and process systems, which unifies information to provide a more powerful and integrated power and process control solution. This provides even greater visibility into your systems so you can identify any issues in your process that may have been caused by an electrical system event. You can see all aspects of operations in real-time to better understand and manage your energy consumption.
With these intelligent solutions, plant personnel can access data from any IED, from any plant operator control station, with a solution that’s easier to deploy, maintain and optimize.
The upfront costs of implementing an intelligent packaged power solution are dramatically lower than a conventional, non-intelligent solution. Traditional hard-wired systems can require five times more engineering time and installation labor. And the more suppliers involved in the project, the bigger the risk to timelines and budgets.
Digitally integrating the electrical and process control systems and using an intelligent packaged power solution creates a single platform for accessing and analyzing all operational data from across operations. That means unified visualization, archiving and reporting capabilities, pulling from synchronized, time-stamped data from a single source.
An oil refinery, for example, tapped unified data to cut downtime related to equipment failures by 27%, and reduced costs related to maintenance troubleshooting by 35%.
When your electrical equipment ages out, it’s not enough to replace it with the latest version. The need to upgrade is a chance to tap your existing infrastructure and grow your digital capabilities. By integrating power and process control and digitizing, you can add functionality and productivity.
The Journal From Rockwell Automation and Our PartnerNetwork™ is published by Putman Media, Inc.