The knowledge

AN ADVOCATE for fieldbus process control systems says it is time the industry reshapes the way it thinks about the technology.

Noel Dyson
The knowledge

Tyco Flow Control process control and automation manager and Profibus International Competence Centre head Rafael Koenig said the potential benefits of installing fieldbus often outweighed the goals project managers set.

In a white paper presented to a recent processing conference, Koenig said the value of fieldbus in process industries was not limited to the obvious benefits such as high efficiencies and low installation costs.

“Industry must look at broader benefits such as enabling tools such as predictive maintenance for intelligent asset management,” he said.

In very simple terms, fieldbus is a system that allows devices in a processing plant to share information with each other.

Koenig said a lack of training, experience and support were holding the technology back.

“We need to overcome a shortage of skilled engineering resources in process control and automation,” Koenig said.

“Intelligently applying diagnostic and monitoring technology could help – but a real core will only come through investing in skills development.

“Traditional process control technologies cause a dilemma for designers and operators of modern facilities because they have major inefficiencies.”

Koenig cited a cost comparison between a conventional installation based on 4-20mA technology and a Profibus fieldbus installation at a chemical process plant.

“Despite a 15 per cent higher cost for system devices, reduced cabling and wiring costs plus significantly shortened engineering times from using Profibus brought an overall saving of 31 per cent,” he said.

Koenig said technologies such as Profibus and Foundation Fieldbus offered comprehensive communication, application profiles, system integration and engineering solutions.

“When there are problems with Profibus networks, device connection issues cause 90 per cent of issues,” he said.

“When failure occurs it clearly highlights a lack of qualified engineering, operating and maintenance resources.

“Australia does not have the same level of knowledge and experience as overseas manufacturers of fieldbus.

“We need to regard human resources and technology-related capability development as equally important.”


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