OR WAIT null SECS
© 2023 MJH Life Sciences™ and Turbomachinery Magazine. All rights reserved.
TOP TRENDS INCLUDE WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY, DIGITIZATION, RETROFITS,
THE CLOUD, DATA VISUALIZATION, ANALYTICS, IT INVOLVEMENT, CYBERSECURITY, DECENTRALIZATION AND THE MOVE TO OPEN SYSTEMS
BY DREW ROBB
Siemens SPPA T3000 controls
Not so long ago, the turbomachinery controls marketplace was relatively stagnant. What a difference half a decade makes. Several trends are shaking the very foundation of the industry. They include greater use of wireless connectivity, digitization, retrofits, the cloud, data visualization, analytics, far more IT involvement, the vital necessity of employing cybersecurity safeguards, decentralization and the move to open systems. Wave after wave of IT technology and innovation are finding their way into plant control software. This is gradually bringing an end to a long-held separation between plant, turbomachinery and IT systems.
As these worlds collide, problems are inevitable — cybersecurity is one symptom of the initial teething troubles. The adventurous will boldly adopt the latest and greatest and bet the business on it. The cautious will wait in the sidelines to see how it all plays out. As to which strategy is correct, only time will tell. But if the retail sector is any sort of guideline, those late to the digital party may struggle to remain competitive. Companies, such as Rockwell Automation, Emerson Automation, Woodward, Tri-Sen, Elliott, EthosEnergy, MAN Diesel & Turbo, GE Oil and Gas, Siemens, MHPS, Petrotech, Solar Tur-bines, Energy Control Technologies and Schneider Electric are in the forefront of this revolution. Here is how they are adjusting to these trends and how they are gearing up for the future.
Rockwell Automation recently expanded ITS ControlLogix portfolio with the ControlLogix 5580 controller. It is said to enable faster system performance, reduce system complexity and support enhanced security in an effort to help customers to future-proof their systems. Rockwell Automation also offers Dynamix 1444, which provides condition monitoring and machine protection in an integrated, configurable module. The goal is to prevent downtime and damage to critical machinery by providing real-time access to equipment health data. Finding ways to remove the risk of obsolescence and to break upgrades down into smaller projects has been a successful strategy for many customers. If you can identify opportunities to make an impact, it will make the longer-term journey more achievable.
“Turbomachinery OEMs are gaining more of the package, including balance of plant (BOP) control for a greater level of turnkey responsibility,” said Julie Robinson, Marketing Manager, ControlLogix controllers at Rockwell Automation. “End users want to have modularity and portability, but they want users to have the same experience when interacting with different control systems.”
As a result, Rockwell Automation has seen a surge in its turbomachinery retrofit business, particularly in vibration monitoring and remote monitoring, as a means of avoiding obsolescence and minimizing unplanned downtime. “Digitization impacts every aspect of operations and supply chains,” said Robinson. “Becoming a digital business is a journey and businesses must first achieve an end-to-end integration of their data.” This requires the integration of industrial software and automation, the expansion of communications networks and security, and the use of business-specific industrial services.
IT company Cisco predicts there will be an estimated 50 billion devices on the internet by 2020. The potential benefits to digitization include reduction in energy consumption and downtime, improved quality, elimination of human error, improved planning and forecasting. Rockwell emphasizes the cloud and wireless technology as crucial elements of the transition. “Wireless will be pervasive, taking many forms such as WiFi, cellular and Bluetooth,” said Robinson. “We’re also seeing a lot of value in location-based services so that operators can access the information they need based on what machine they are standing in front of.”
Rockwell’s ThinManager product with Relevance, for example, provides the ability to deliver applications to people when and where they need them. The company cited research showing that 7% of scheduled runtime is affected by unplanned downtime. Major contributors include user error, aging equipment, and lack of information. Additionally, many organizations do not log or know the cause of a downtime event. The problem is not lack of data, it is lack of connectivity, added Robinson. “Being able to take data from a device, summarize and aggregate it to be able to make real-time decisions takes away ambiguity for users,” she said. “Modernizing their equipment helps them gain insight into their data. They can begin to use it proactively, to help predict when maintenance may be required and ultimately minimize unplanned downtime.”
EthosEnergy reports that a plant’s IT support team is increasingly becoming a member of the decision team for control system retrofits. This has changed the way control products and features are marketed as this important group now needs to be satisfied. “We have to be conversant in industrial networking, including topology, security and software patch updates,” said Jeff Schleis, EthosEnergy Product Marketing Manager, Optimization & Upgrades. “From sales through aftermarket services, we continue to be challenged to be knowledgeable and to stay up to date.”
He said file sharing in the cloud has improved communication with customers during the design phase. It is rare, these days, that design reviews are performed in person. Instead, EthosEnergy relies on technology to improve collaboration. Cloud-based services are also proving useful in remote monitoring and diagnostics. “We are using the cloud to store data and provide the front-end in a familiar format,” said Schleis. “By leveraging data visualization software we are extending data from the cloud to tablets and phones to make it easier for users to get the instant feedback everyone is accustomed to.” This opens the door to real-time alerts of plant issues via automated emails. The user can then immediately check the details on their phones by accessing a controls interface over the web.
But EthosEnergy is cautious concerning the deployment of wireless technology. Schleis believes the turbomachinery controls sector is correct to be slow to adopt wireless. Particularly with concerns around cybersecurity, wireless tools and security technology requires further maturity before seeing broad adoption in power plants. Greater involvement by the IT department means old-guard controls specialists will have to learn and grow accustomed to new skills. The IT department of a utility or independent power producer (IPP) will be included on more retrofit projects. Thus being able to package an operator terminal or engineering workstation as a virtual machine (VM), a technique long used by IT, is gradually finding its way into the controls repertoire.
“When the virtual machine is located on a central server, thin clients provide easy maintenance and replacement, low cost hardware and high reliability,” said Schleis. “Backup and restoration are made easier with a VM and it is in a format that the IT department is familiar with. Adding this proven technology to an upgrade is gaining more user support.”
The drivers for controls upgrades are also shifting. External sources and regional governing entities such as the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) are compelling power plants to guard against cyber threats or face fines. Another example of external influence might be the need to shorten the start time of the unit, allowing the asset to be more competitive in the power market and increase revenue. Schleis advises users to identify the source that is driving the upgrade and communicate that to vendors. By helping vendors understand and appreciate driving factors, the user can obtain more workable solutions to the problem. Such demands from outside forces can also be a factor in the decision to upgrade an aging controls system.
Veterans at the plant may point out that the existing system has been performing well. In many cases, they are correct to argue against an upgrade to the latest and greatest for its own sake. The point that is sometimes missed, however, is that there may be reasons for an upgrade that go far beyond avoiding obsolescence and future unavailability of parts or support. “If the control system is not causing problems, then obsolescence will never be a financial driver for change,” said Schleis. “Only with added value in other areas does a control system replacement make financial sense.” This value might come in the form of decreased costs from increased automation, commonality of hardware with plant systems, and more uptime. It requires in-depth engagement with trusted vendors to discuss ongoing needs and how new controls may help.
MAN can monitor its fleet performance remotely
MAN Diesel & Turbo
Innovative and optimized control solutions have become a pillar of product development at MAN Diesel & Turbo. This includes more flexible programmable logic controllers (PLC), as well as ongoing projects related to cloud technologies, and intelligent controllers like the Model-Based Predictive Controller, a new Steam Turbine Multifunctional Controller and an Anti-Surge Controller for axial and centrifugal compressors. Additionally, Software-in-the-Loop (SiL) and Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL) simulation-based pre-commissioning has become an integral part of MAN’s software development process. This has helped the company improve software quality and reduce commissioning time.
“Only the use of modern intelligent control solutions makes it possible to fully exploit technology’s potential down to every decimal place,” said Dr. Alexander Sobolyev, Head of Instruments & Controls Research & Development, MAN Diesel & Turbo.
“Older control systems are often not able to provide the required performance. But train availability and process stability can be enhanced by updates or retrofits.” Greater prevalence of cyber-attacks on industrial control systems in recent years has seen cybersecurity gaining more importance. And the combination of simulation techniques with sensor data has assisted MAN in the creation of digital twins for turbomachinery assets. This allows the company to predict and optimize how machines operate.
The latest innovations to the Siemens SPPA-T3000 power plant control system are based on industry research. This uncovered the importance of the interface between people and machines in plant availability and reliability. Thus, Siemens has developed an operator- centric approach via a new Human Machine Interface (HMI). This covers prioritization of plant situations, being able to configure the workbench to user needs, and giving consideration to ergonomics to make it easy for system interaction. This includes intelligent alarm handling, which provides guidance to the operator in critical situations and workflow support for the daily routine.
Siemens also supports data applications running outside of the control system. This encompasses cloud apps, such as the Siemens Data and Security Gateway released last year. Dieter Fluck, Vice President of the Controls Technology Portfolio in the Power Services Division at Siemens, commented that the company has stepped up its efforts to ensure that plants and turbines are equipped with the latest security technologies. For example, Siemens has enlarged its IT security portfolio with application whitelisting which prevents the execution of unknown software and potential malware in the SPPA-T3000.
When it comes to controls upgrades, Fluck recommended that plants combine maintenance and turbomachinery upgrading with controls upgrades. Even though the control system upgrade is potentially a much smaller project compared to turbine maintenance, he said it can significantly contribute to an increase in availability, efficiency and start-up-reliability. “Consider reworking vintage turbine controls system with the aim to minimize mechanical and hydraulic components and move into electronic controls,” said Fluck. “Keeping current with the most recent upgrades, updates and patches is a mandatory security requirement.”
For those remaining on aging systems, Siemens supplies spare parts for systems older than two decades. It recently launched the extension of its service program for users operating the former TXP platform. But in most cases, control system operators have been moving to the most recent version of SPPA-T3000. Standardization To increase productivity in power generation, the company is investing heavily in digitalization. This implies the need for standardized communication and connectivity, and the ability to integrate with third-party systems based on common standards.
Additionally, the company has noticed a steady shift from large, centralized generation towards smaller, decentralized generation. “Turbomachinery control systems need to fit smaller generation units without losing the capability to handle increasing complexity,” said Fluck. “But they also need to be easily integrated into a whole energy system and managed as a fleet remotely.”
Siemens systems incorporate wireless technology. But the company is not seeing significant demand for wireless-enabled turbomachinery controls. Siemens added more digitalization to the latest release of its control system. For example, a software tool collects data from the controls system archive, as well as engineering data and data from edge devices, which is sent securely to the cloud. Cloud-based data analytic apps can then drive engineering optimization and operations performance enhancement of turbines and power plants.
The most critical need of Elliott customers is to run without interruption between scheduled shutdowns. Recent improvements to its controls address system availability via testable trip manifolds, partial stoke testing of turbine and expander trip valves, and improved system redundancies. “We must provide our customers with systems that are easily operated, maintained and understood,” said James Dugan, Controls Lead Engineer, Elliott.
Toward this goal, Elliott has developed more understandable HMIs and incorporated the implementation of PLC systems familiar to specific users, or project-specified, plant-wide distributed control system (DCS) hardware. The first Elliott PLC-based systems were installed in the mid-90s to the early 2000s. Some of these systems are approaching hardware obsolescence. The company informs users of the issues and offers possible solutions, such as newer replacement parts, or an upgrade path to a new hardware platform. Full system replacements, though, must be planned well in advance of shutdowns so that the application can be built and tested, and cabinet modifications can be well thought out. If the project is well planned, modifications can generally leave most of the existing wiring undisturbed, and system functionality can be thoroughly tested well before actual implementation.
“It is not a trivial task to remove an existing system, install the replacement, perform loop checks and acceptance testing, and commissioning, all within a period of a few weeks to meet the scheduled restart of production,” said Dugan. “But the cost of just one unplanned shutdown could pay for the upgrade.”
With the widespread adoption of IEC61511/ISA84 (a technical standard which sets out practices in the engineering of systems that ensure the safety of an industrial process through the use of instrumentation), he added, there is a focus on compliance. Under the SIS Safety Requirements Specification (SRS), these standards list the maximum allowable spurious trip rate for the functions of the safety system. However, any issue that will not allow you to run properly, such as a nuisance upset has the same impact as not being able to run at all. Even little things, such as the lack of field device redundancy, can jeopardize the productivity of critical plant processes all for the sake of an additional transmitter.
Historically, control system speed was the limiting factor in turbomachinery control implementation. This is becoming almost a non-issue, said Dugan, as the ever-increasing performance of computer hardware either enables more functionality or opens up other control system platforms for use. IEC61131 compliance allows for easy migration of proven logic into these platforms. “We have seen control systems (including compressor anti-surge, combustion and steam turbine control) implemented within various DCS platforms (800xA, C300, DeltaV) long considered too slow for this sort of application,” said Dugan. “Our customers are also requesting security features, such as hardware-based industrial protocol firewalls, and the implementation of least privilege security strategies.”
Elliott sees a role for wireless solutions where connectivity is a problem. As such, wireless is more likely to be used in a system modification rather than a new installation. That said, wireless may not be ideal where runtime is to be maximized and the spurious trip rate is to be kept at a minimum, noted Dugan.
Petrotech control system
Unless a customer specifically requests a proprietary system, Petrotech offers them an open architecture control system. Proprietary systems can be more difficult to maintain due to obsolescence and communications limitations, said John Kazour, President of Petrotech, and integration into companywide IT systems is more cumbersome. “This is becoming more important with the explosion of big data integration and predictive analytics,” he said. “Systems should be designed with standard languages and interfaces to minimize errors in data integrity and sharing with plant networks.”
The Petrotech approach is to enhance data accessibility to other systems without compromising the ability to protect the machine. Users are given access to needed data but the protection system is isolated from the network to increase availability and minimize the potential for user errors. Machine availability should determine when to perform upgrades, said Kazour, as this provides the easiest cost justification. Machines in standby or peaking mode, where 100% availability is not critical, will require minor upgrades. Such upgrades will avoid the situation of components no longer being manufactured, and increase the amount of actionable information.
“New systems provide the data needed to make intelligent decisions at the machine and plant levels, providing users more opportunities to reduce maintenance costs,” said Kazour. “Users should decide when to upgrade based on the significance of machine availability to operations.”
Emerson has incorporated new technologies into its Ovation control system, extending the automation platform beyond the bounds of traditional distributed plant control. It recently introduced:
“Users now have a common set of engineering tools to manage models and control logic, making it easier to keep the simulator up-to-date,” said Brett Benson, Director of Gas Turbine Solutions at Emerson Automation Solutions. “Embedding these capabilities on a common platform offers reduced costs, less complexity and improved reliability."
Combined cycle operators, he said, are focusing more on automation in light of the changing generation landscape, driven by how the rise of renewables and low gas prices have changed the way turbines operate. Coal-fired plants that had historically provided baseload power are now cycling; gas-fired units that had been used for cycling are now providing baseload power; and even some simple-cycle plants that were peakers are now operating almost daily as cycling units. These operating changes put additional stress on turbomachinery. That stress can be cut down by automation. It can also be used to improve the response of steam turbines to load swings, as well as lower maintenance costs by converting mechanical-hydraulic controls to electrohydraulic controls.
“The need for high availability and reliability is more critical than ever, particularly for power generators where inability to meet startup requirements can mean lost revenue,” said Benson. “A control system can improve availability of a simple-cycle fleet by executing daily unit start-check algorithms. It can monitor combustion dynamics and exhaust profiles to detect combustion hardware anomalies. Lack of availability of board-level components like PCI cards used in aging hardware is only one reason to upgrade an old system, he said. It may also be difficult to locate personnel with the knowledge to replace them.
Critical infrastructure protection (CIP) requirements specified by NERC can induce power generators to upgrade their control systems. This set of requirements is designed to secure the assets required for operating North America’s bulk electric system. Another challenge is write-cycles (the number of times you can write data onto a device) reaching maximum. Some legacy control system boards reach a maximum number of writes, then can do no more. This may prevent set points from being entered or new constants being used.
Emerson Automation offers cloud-based services, such as PlantWeb Insight and PlantWeb Advisor for those who are ready to adopt this technology. But in the company’s experience, power generators are in no rush. However, wireless technologies continue to expand beyond the basic temperature, pressure and flow variables. “Emerson continues to develop wireless devices for new applications, including non-intrusive corrosion detection, acoustic monitoring, gas monitoring, power metering and passive medium voltage temperature monitoring,” said Benson. “This enables plants to pull in data from remote areas or where it is impractical to hardwire devices, due to cost or location. We’re seeing some utilities starting to use wireless routers to collect data from pockets of wired instruments. They can then bring it into plant information systems to apply pattern recognition technology or thermal models to detect anomalies.”
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) is involved in maintenance of current DCS as well as the next generation of DCS, based on demand for stronger protection and functionality. The latest enhancements are focused on implementing virtual DCS and cyber security measures built on the MHPS Tomoni platform. The company’s security standard exceeds the currently mandated NERC-CIP requirements for industrial power generation sites. “We provide at least 15 years of hardware parts support while also providing transition models,” said Scott Cloyd, general manager of Gas Turbine Service and Design Engineering, MHPS. “Our approach addresses vulnerabilities to cybersecurity attacks from obsolete equipment and software, and enables operators to take advantage of technological improvements to manage assets.”
Woodward’s latest enhancement is point-of-use configurable controls (Peak200, 505, Flex500 and Vertex) for steam, gas, hydro and compressor applications. They permit users to access a color display to control a turbine’s performance, efficiency and productivity, as well as adding a troubleshooting capability. In addition, OptiTune PID technology allows the controller to optimize turbine performance. The company has developed integrated capabilities to monitor bearing temperature, rotor vibration, lube oil pressures and other turbine parameters with visibility on an integrated HMI screen. Its centralized control platforms have high-performance microchips to manage diagnostics, and cybersecurity upgrades.
“Controls require little to no maintenance compared to mechanical valves, actuators and governors,” said Eric Friehauf, Woodward’s Aftermarket Manager. “But we recommend that spare controls that have been on the shelf for multiple years without operation be added to site maintenance checklists for power up, software upgrades and certification, so they are ready when needed.” Company policy requires its latest controls to be backward-compatible and to offer an efficient upgrade path when support for spares and repair are exhausted. This includes servicing products from decades ago. When possible, new products or modules are designed so they can be drop-in replacements like its 505 steam control.
Friehauf has observed a trend of heavy duty frame GTs toward electric actuation, valves and drivers which require additional control capabilities. The catalyst for this trend is increased performance, reliability, and data capture, management and analysis. This supports the improved diagnostic and prognostic needs of operators. Another growing trend is distributed Input/Output (I/O) technology. This is said to reduce the total installed cost to the user and simplify system architecture in terms of reduced support. Distributed I/O helps to improve control point accuracy, contributing to faster, more reliable starts, lower emissions and lower operating costs, added Friehauf. “There is increasing demand for a secure solution for remote access, monitoring, diagnosis and system control adjustments to optimize performance and manage with fewer trained resources onsite,” he said.
GE Oil & Gas
GE Oil & Gas is heavily investing in digital technology to simplify rotating equipment, reduce maintenance activities and boost asset performance. New control algorithms leverage digital twins. These are physics-based models tied into analytics that are used to estimate and predict the future state of a turbomachinery asset. An outgrowth of this is the “synthetic sensor.” The idea is to leverage the digital twin to estimate process value and avoid the use of real sensors that in case of failure may negatively impact the equipment performance. Quick migration kits are available to upgrade an obsolete control panel to the latest platform. Compared to a normal upgrade, it requires only 30% of the time.
“As the control system represents the mind of an asset, it is wise to keep it healthy and updated,” said Carlo Snickars, Product Leader, Controls and Cyber, Turbomachinery & Process Solutions, GE Oil & Gas. “Upgraded control systems also enable enhanced cybersecurity.”
GE’s Predix platform for the Industrial Internet has been designed to connect equipment, analyze data, and deliver insight in real time. Predix cloud-based apps, such as Asset Performance Management, are said to make operations safer and more reliable while helping to ensure optimal performance at a sustainable cost. Wireless technology is part of the shift towards digitized, IT-centric controls. It cuts down on installation time, avoids cable routing and loop check at the site. Snickars pointed out that this technology is widely used for monitoring purposes, but is gradually being broadly adopted for equipment control. “Battery life seems to be the main technological challenge, but we are confident that this gap will be solved soon,” he said.
Tri-Sen has improved connectivity along with security on its standard product line. Improvements include Bluetooth, wireless, the adoption of industry standards for device integration, as well as obtaining cybersecurity certification (IEC62443) for its PLC. Some older products have received component upgrades to improve connectivity and support the installed base into the foreseeable future. “The maintenance advice we give to our customers is simple: register products, and update maintenance and engineering contact information so you receive any application and product notes relating to controls products,” said Tom Bailey, Director of Marketing, Tri-Sen.
Market maturity has reduced the difference in fundamental features and performance between the leading controls platforms, said Bailey. Until a new technology disrupts the market, any real differentiation among turbomachinery controls providers will most likely occur in three places:
Simulation should be used by controls providers: both in the design phase of a project, to ensure that the existing process is considered; and during validation testing to make sure the controls system will function correctly when it arrives on-site. Tri-Sen has seen an increase in requests from users to integrate some, if not all, of their turbomachinery controls onto their DCS. “While there is an important market for stand-alone turbomachinery controls, the improvements in DCS processing power and performance means that the DCS integration approach may make sense for certain applications.”
Building on its Turbotronic platform, the Turbotronic 5 from Solar Turbines introduces four major enhancements. Controller Access Security includes a central software security application manager that enables users to assign multiple levels of access. These range from “view only” to full software programming based on job function. This guards against unauthorized access and cyber threats.
The Rockwell Dynamix 1444 vibration monitoring system, in conjunction with Solar’s TT4000 HMI version 5, provides condition monitoring features. It includes display of waveforms, such as frequency spectrum, phase angle, orbitals, waterfall plots, and trending to aid with machinery health diagnostics and troubleshooting. It can be paired with Solar’s InSight platform for advanced monitoring and analytics. Additionally, HART-enabled analog input modules have been added for transmitter configuration and faster fault identification; and the Ethernet/IP device-level ring increases data bandwidth and enables quick identification of communication faults. Solar’s aim is to provide 10 years of support after a control system is discontinued. Historically, the company has been able to exceed this timeframe for most systems. It also offers customers the opportunity to upgrade stand-alone systems, such as fire monitoring, vibration monitoring and HMI fuel system modules. Each can be upgraded independently without changing the entire control system.
“The most important trends: are the introduction of data analytics to improve the user’s ability to reduce unplanned downtime by performing condition analysis; and implementation of security measures to prevent unauthorized intrusion,” said Alex Troya, Global Manager for Customer Service, Project Applications Engineering, Solar Turbines. “Turbotronic 5 addresses both trends.”
Solar has embraced digitization through the development of the InSight platform, which serves as the technology foundation for service delivery. It is enabled by a secure connectivity architecture. It ensures remote read-only access to machine data, from the turbomachinery controller to the data acquisition device, to the end users’ PC or mobile device. It makes a wide range of machine performance and fleet data is available to users.
Schneider Electric’s Foxboro Evo uses high-capacity, high-availability control processors and I/O, as well as role-based engineering tools. A recent enhancement is the amount of data that can be transmitted from the controllers and plant assets into the historians and the cloud. “Turbomachinery controllers have always been connected to provide information on the condition of the unit, alarms in the process and data dumps for historical purposes. But only a limited amount of data was being transferred,” said Tim Pieszchala, Global Systems Architect, Schneider Electric. “But with today’s technology, rotating assets can provide far more data to the people responsible for improving the safety, reliability, efficiency and even profitability of the operation.”
For example, the company’s PRiSM can be combined with its cloud-based Maintenance Response Center for condition monitoring and asset management. This delivers asset-performance and asset-reliability data. Pieszchala stated that the maturity level of modern technology is realizing the potential of predictive maintenance and condition monitoring.
“Turbomachinery controls are typically about five years behind others in the automation industry. They need to be proven in the field before they can be applied to rotating equipment,” he said. “A new wave of Industrial Internet-enabled systems already being implemented in some process plants will eventually be considered for use in the next round of control upgrades.”
The Open Process Automation Forum (www.opengroup.com) is exploring more open platforms that allow systems and assets to be enhanced without replacing anything, and without relying on a single-source provider, he said. This allows users to be selective and strategic about how and when they will upgrade. It could facilitate better performance control of operations at the asset level — from a piece of equipment all the way across their enterprise asset sets, and even into their supply chain. “Future automation system architectures will provide asset performance control from the bottom up, from equipment assets to unit, area, plant and enterprise assets,” said Pieszchala.
Energy Control Technologies
Energy Control Technologies (ECT) provides turbomachinery control systems on open platforms. Paul Fisher, the company’s President, said this eliminates the costs associated with developing and maintaining proprietary hardware, operating system software, and HMI software. He recommends users move away from proprietary hardware platforms because of regular upgrade requirements. “We focus on application software and algorithms that provide customers with value leading to production increases, energy efficiency, and improved machine protection,” said Fisher. “Open platforms allow spare parts to be sourced locally by the end user at a fraction of the cost.”
He has seen turbomachinery control systems manually operated in the field after initial commissioning mainly because the systems are not capable of handling larger process disturbances. Additionally, users do not remember how to maintain proprietary system so switch them to manual. This defeats the purpose: controls running automatically. ECT’s focus is on remote connectivity to systems to provide lower cost support, troubleshooting and data archiving. Fisher has not seen wireless transmitters on critical turbomachinery applications.