Profitable safety from IIoT modernisation
Production plants face two major challenges: the increasing speed of business and integrating emerging technologies. Both play an important role in determining organisation competitiveness needed for survival. Moving to an IIoT-enabled control environment can rendering asset and operations in a reliable, efficient way whilst maintaining profitable safety.
Plant automation must not only control a processes, but that also help manage operational profitability. This only happens when the control systems and the workforce operating and using them can control risks to the business. Markedly, safety risks, environmental risks, efficiency risks, reliability risks and, most importantly, risks to the profitability of the operation.
According to a Schneider Electric white paper IIoT technologies and concepts can transform and enhance process safety if appropriately applied. IIoT makes available perspectives on safety that accurately predict when safety risk factors will exceed the accepted thresholds.
IIoT-driven algorithms and predictive analytics can be configured to identify likely threats to equipment asset safety. The process gathers equipment asset historical data, and builds mathematical models that reflect different operational modes of that equipment. Combining this with sensors that gather live data to form a profile on a given piece of equipment.
Having established the equipment profile helps determine , guidelines for how that piece of equipment should perform. By placing that information online builds a data repository that compares the actual performance to the expected performance. If there is a larger-than-expected deviation between the expected and the actual performance, operators receive alerts. Safety and the maintenance teams can then focus their attention to the emerging risks.
Digital twinning tools allows testing in a virtual environment before making physical changes to a machine or process. Digital twin refers to a digital replica of physical assets, processes or system for use in a variety of ways. They provide a digital representation of how the elements and the dynamics of how an IoT device operates. From a safety perspective, implementing this method of evaluating a change before changing production reduces the level of risk.
In addition to the benefits in safe process design, digitalisation increases awareness to issues through more efficient alert processing. Furthermore, it provides the ability to distinguish between meaningful and nuisance alerts. In this way the information delivered to safety experts has already considered the safety risk procedures and process constraints.
Overall, it means reducing human involvement in making some decisions can. When involved in risk mitigation, humans will benefit from a richer data set and better technology-enabled information. Machine operators, for example, will be able to adjust the set points and witness the impact their adjustments are having on the process safety, profitability, and reliability of the optimized assets.
Finally, smart control encompasses the ability to use information to improve control over efficiency, reliability, and safety risk variables either in an autonomous fashion at the asset level, or through the interaction of the operator.
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