Modernization projects have become more important than ever as the benefits of updated control technologies such as better HMIs, advanced process control, better integration with asset management systems, improved alarm management, and more have all transitioned from “nice features” to best practices. But traditional modernizations were often expensive and required extensive downtime, two things that few plants can afford these days.
Fortunately, a new technology has made its way into the marketplace to make modernization projects faster and more cost effective. Emerson’s Aaron Crews and M.C. Chow shared the details of this new technology—I/O-agnostic interfaces—in a recent article in Hydrocarbon Processing magazine.
No more rip and replace
Many project teams wanting more modern control have found themselves in a difficult position. Their legacy equipment (old wiring, terminations, and infrastructure) does not afford them all the capabilities they need to run their plants at peak performance, which puts them at a disadvantage in a global marketplace. However, changing out all that equipment is expensive and time-intensive, even for large crews, which are no longer commonplace. Aaron and M.C. explain,
“For years, this conundrum has left hydrocarbon processors stuck in a difficult position: rip out everything and start from scratch, be forced into incremental and ineffective upgrades from the same automation vendor (whether the plant is satisfied with it or not), or continue to operate with legacy equipment that does not truly meet the plant’s needs.”
I/O-agnostic interfaces change this paradigm. Today, a project team can choose the control system that best meets their needs and put it in place without the need to rip and replace the legacy equipment. I/O-agnostic interfaces are a modern, scalable, open solution that allows the plant to remove old controllers, plug a communication cable into the I/O-agnostic interface, and connect a new control system to the old hardware.
Modernization on any schedule
One of the key advantages of upgrading via an I/O-agnostic interface is the ability to adjust the project schedule to fit budget and personnel needs. For example, overhauling a plant with 100 controller nodes might take months or years using traditional methods. However, as M.C. and Aaron explain,
“With an I/O-agnostic interface, the plant can replace as little as one controller at a time, leaving all other existing I/O in place. Facility personnel can leverage the most important advantages of the new control system while replacing legacy infrastructure at their own pace.”
Moreover, the team can often use the I/O-agnostic interface to ease their project budget. Instead of the costly process of replacing wiring, terminations, and infrastructure being part of the capital expenditures budget, the team can instead leave all those items and replace them at their own pace during day-to-day operations, moving a large percentage of the project cost to the operations budget over as long of a period as necessary.
IO.CONNECT provides options and fast ROI
Emerson’s IO-agnostic interface, DeltaV™ IO.CONNECT, empowers any organization to unlock the most value from its control systems as soon as possible. Leveraging IO.CONNECT, plants can move directly to Emerson’s new DeltaV distributed control system version 15, and begin reaping the benefits immediately, with lifecycle costs that are typically lower than the annual spend to maintain legacy equipment. Teams can deliver fast return on investment without concerns that the cost of change or the risk of downtime will derail other essential digital transformation initiatives.
To learn more about the benefits of IO-agnostic interfaces like Emerson’s DeltaV IO.CONNECT and to see some case studies of plants taking advantage of the technology, you can read the article in its entirety at Hydrocarbon Processing.