Today's industrial process control manufacturing requires state-of-the-art communication networks and a complete understanding of network design, network applications and available network technologies. The network infrastructure becomes the backbone upon which the control system is designed. Therefore, reliable, fault-tolerant network systems are critical to plant operations. SSG can provide all facets of industrial network design from device-level networks such as Device-Net, Hart, ProfiBus and Foundation Fieldbus, I/O and drive networks such as ControlNet, to the Peer-to-Peer Networks such as Modbus and Ethernet. Our capabilities in network design are wide-ranging and comprehensive:
- Selecting Ethernet network switch hardware
- Designing switch cabling configurations, ensuring cabling distance limitations are not exceeded, and ensuring that best practices of network topologies are followed
- Evaluating and recommending redundancy options based on process risk assessments
- Providing logical and/or physical separation between plant floor process networks and corporate IT networks
- Ensuring that networks are designed for the ability to bridge process networks to the corporate networks for plant floor data collection and MES operations
- Ensuring necessary data throughput on networks by evaluation of node counts, hardware speed, data packet size and analysis tools
- Designing and documenting the network systems in engineered drawing formats, using proprietary drawing blocks and libraries that can be maintained by the end user
The control panel design and electrical schematics documentation form the blueprint for a successful process-control system installation. Control panels are designed to meet both the needs of the equipment being housed and environmental requirements. The electrical schematics provide the means by which a process-control system is initially installed and then maintained and expanded as production needs evolve.
SSGs project methodology, which includes creation of a Project Database, ensures that the documentation created for a project is accurate and can be readily used by maintenance personnel.
Our control-panel design experience takes into account both the internal and external factors that dictate the panel requirements, including:
- Enclosure sizing
- Environment: temperature, humidity
- Heating and cooling needs
- Atmosphere: corrosive, explosive
- Area classification–Class I, II or III, Divisions 1 & 2
- Explosion-proof enclosures
- Purged enclosures
- Intrinsically safe enclosures
- Arc flash
- Agency listings: UL, CSA, UE
The logical design and layout of the electrical schematics provide a useful tool not only for a seamless installation but also for ongoing maintenance and support, which are a result of incorporating the following:
- Power One-Line diagram
- Network One-Line Diagram
- Control network(s): I/O, Ethernet, motors and VFDs, instruments
- I/O wiring schematics
- Area classification: Class I, II or III, Divisions 1 & 2
- Panel and field wiring schematics
Programmable controllers are at the core of process control. These controllers may be small, dedicated micro or loop controllers, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), Programmable Automation Controllers (PAC), or Distributed Control Systems (DCS). SSG has been successfully implementing programmable controllers since our company’s founding. In fact, we are a leader in the process-control industry, recognized as an authorized System Integrator (SI) by all major industrial programmable controller manufacturers.
SSG's success and recognition as a programmable controller system integrator can be attributed to our 15+ years of experience and our proven project methodology that includes:
- Writing open, easily maintained programs
- Documenting programs with instruction comments, tag descriptors, rung comments and annotated program files
- Utilizing standard template methodology that includes repeated functions such as motor control, valve control and analog input control. Our template methodology provides:
- Program consistency
- Ease of troubleshooting
- Thorough documentation
- Rapid program development
- A customer training tool
- We have developed templates that include:
- Motor control
- Valve control
- Analog monitoring
- Discrete alarms
- PID control loops (feed forward, cascade, etc.)
Our process-control programming expertise has been applied across many industries for many different process applications, including:
- Standards development
- Web line handling
- Bulk materials handling
- Recipe management
- Lead/lag logic
- Mass balance logic
- Checked I/O logic
- Variable frequency drives
- Alarm handling
- FGIS Secure and Protected PLC’s
- SCADA systems
- Languages–Ladder Logic, Sequential Function Chart, Structured Text, Function Block Diagram
- RFID and bar code systems
- Motion control
The role of the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) is to provide operators, maintenance personnel and management with the tools necessary to access, control and view the parameters of a process. The HMI is typically a graphical interface that displays the current status of a process, such as motor status, valve status, temperatures, pressures and other system variables. The HMI may range in scope from a single standalone operator panel, to multi-plant, client server installations with multiple redundant servers and distributed view nodes on the plant floor.
SSGc’s experience with HMI installations includes:
- Client/server set-up
- Computer installation
- Software installation and configuration
- Network configuration
- Redundant servers configuration
- Standards and templates development
- Access and security levels definition
- Workstation lockdown policies
Projects at SSG are successfully designed, built, tested and commissioned by following a rigorous project methodology; for HMI development, key aspects of our methodology include:
- Documented sequence of operations
- Correlation of process flow diagrams
- Operations requirement identification
- Access and security levels definition
- Establishment of a symbols library
- Template methodology implementation:
- Motor control
- Valve control
- Analog alarms
- Discrete alarms
- PID control loops
- Alarm monitoring
- Standards development including:
- Screen naming conventions
- Alarm display and response
- Graphics, colors, fonts and animation
- Abbreviation conventions
The start-up phase is the most demanding and rewarding part of any project. Weeks, months or even years of engineering, design and programming culminate in onsite checkout and startup commissioning.
SSG believes that a key component to a successful startup is having the right personnel on site. This is usually your SSG project manager or project engineer, who has worked on the project from its inception. Our project model does not include handing off the project to a field-service technician. Having the project manager and engineering staff onsite during the critical startup phase ensures that all project knowledge and history is brought to the field. This not only allows for fast and accurate commissioning, but also expedites any process changes that need to be implemented due to field conditions: The people who designed and programmed the system are already on site to make the changes.
Our thoroughly detailed approach to commissioning includes the following:
- Controlled and safe initial power-up of field equipment. SSG personnel check and verify safeties, e-stop circuits, field disconnects and lockout systems. This requires coordination with all site personnel, contractors, maintenance staff and owners. During this period we take ownership and ensure proper communication to all parties.
- Commissioning of all process control networks. This includes all switches, ports, cables, fibers, connections, etc. SSG brings internal test equipment to the site to verify the field installation of your networks. Where applicable, we will recommend third-party testing or certification. Ensuring your networks are reliable is one of the most critical steps in the commissioning process, because future steps require that this backbone be in place.
- Complete checkout of field devices to the HMI. At this point in the project, we have already verified our programming, HMI configuration and control panels; the focus during I/O checkout is field devices. We use electrical schematics as the primary commissioning document, and we verify every single field connection, from the end device all the way back to the HMI screen.
- System dry runs. To verify the operation of your equipment per the sequence of operations, SSG will perform a complete “dry run” of your system. Testing the system first without product helps control the number of variables, ultimately reduces process waste and speeds up overall commissioning by functionally testing items without losing time on cleanup.
- System wet runs. During this stage of the process, SSG will commission all items that require actual product, such as flow meters and cleanout timers, as well as set PID tuning parameters. We will also check for leaks and verify equipment performance under load.
- Product development. SSG will work with process engineers to ensure that process data is available and will make any adjustments necessary to get the product to your specifications as rapidly as possible.