Control rooms where operators monitor and control the process have changed over the years as technologies have advanced. Today with advances in communications technologies, this “room” can extend globally.In a Process Engineering article, Remote Controller, Emerson’s Jeff Dymond describes this change in thinking to accommodate knowledge workers located remotely. He notes how this thinking has changed:
It’s not just operators anymore, but a cross-functional team that works together in the control room that might include operations, maintenance, logistics, quality, and production managers… They will be working together to make decisions that are for right now, not for the next shift or tomorrow.
Known as Integrated Operations (iOps) command centers, the goal is help make operators less reactive and more proactive. These opportunities might include capitalizing on a change in business condition or:
…an integrated business operator in the iOps centre will understand that what was thought to be an optimized control loop may actually add cost to production by requiring more energy when you look at the entire process train.
He highlights the importance of Situation Awareness Graphics:
…data must be very easy to visualize to enable operators to understand the status of the entire plant or asset in a few seconds. It can also help them to visualise business information such as production yields or totals.
Jeff describes how better visualization can increase situational awareness:
In the old days operators could handle up to 150 control loops and 500 indicators. Now with situational awareness graphics and the new iOps cross-functional team, they can be looking at 500 to 1000 control loops and thousands of indicators.
Mobile technologies also are increasing plant staff productivity. Jeff explains:
For mobile workers we now think of hard hats with heads up displays that not only display information to the mobile worker but can be used to read information. You can also send things like work orders or an instructional video on how to replace a part in a pump…
Read the article for additional views from other suppliers and industry professionals.
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