Adding efficiency to current processes has always been at the forefront of any technology. A distributed control system (DCS) serves this purpose quite handsomely. In short, a DCS makes a facility/operation run as efficiently as possible. However, the manner in which this goal is accomplished can vary quite a bit between environments. It is this level of specialization that makes DCSs such an integral part of how the world moves forward all while seemingly not stumbling along the way.
Facilities everywhere have begun to understand the vital nature of SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) integration. Central to this goal is an ideal distributed control system solution customized to their specs & designed for their needs. Automation, though often cast in a somewhat negative light, is a part of daily life for the industries that supply the planet with just about anything.
It does bear noting that like with any industrial/manufacturing/technology discussion, there is always a need to break down the terminology used. Quite often, a DCS is lumped in as one-in-the-same as a programmable logic controller (PLC). The difference is distinct. A PCS handles the automation of one or a few process at one time. A DCS, however, connects an entire facility. Quite often, PLCs were made to be the core of a how a facility operated. The problem was that if said system was down, be it for repairs or malfunction, the operation shut down. A DCS allows for redundancy in its functionality. In essence, even if some part of the overall operation is being negatively impacted, the system stays online.
This is especially important when one understands that industrial settings can have thousands of automated controls in place. A DCS makes it to where fewer individuals are needed to oversee the operation as a number of ‘fail-safes’ are, by design, the ready.
Areas where a distributed control system are at play include, but are not limited to:
- Power Generation Plants
- Water Distribution Facilities
- Oil & Gas Refineries
- Manufacturing Facilities
- Cement Processing Facilities
Keep in mind the a DCS is intended to run as close or specifically 24/7. Accomplishing this means one thing — automation. Remember, again, that the primary goal of a DCS is to allow a facility/operation to run as smoothly & efficiently as possible. An oft-used criticism levied at the rise of automation has been the ‘replacement’ factor. However, a DCS, and SCADA integration as a whole, is designed for human-machine interaction through a human-machine interface (HMI). In short, people are still at the core of the system’s design.
If a distribute control system looks to be on the horizon for a facility/operation, there are some unique advantages to it. For example:
Timely Adjustments — Distributed control systems are capable of processing data in real-time. They use information that is acquired constantly to make adjustments to the processes they control. This is of special importance to continuous-operation facilities like refineries and other petrochemical-related operations. As the system makes note of small changes, it is able to make adjustments to meet them.
Efficiency — Though it may be a belabored point at this juncture, it is important to emphasize that facilities/operations of all sizes do best when run in an efficient manner. They must perform all of their tasks without wasting time & consuming as few resources as possible. Companies understand that when operating expenditures exceed capital expenditures, there is a major problem.
Companies such as CCI Culberson Engineering & Construction have made a name for themselves by taking the distributed control system to newer & more exciting levels. We take pride in understanding our client’s needs & goals for the present and future so that we can design, produce, install, and manage a DCS that is the right fit. Contact us today.