Distributed Control Systems (DCS)
In this article, we will be sharing more about distributed control systems and their various benefits and functions.
As an example, within the oil & gas/manufacturing industry, different systems may be introduced to automate any processes and reduce any human intervention with these systems. The benefits of these systems are to save cost in the long run and keep any injuries as low or avoid them if possible.
Distributed processes can be controlled by decentralized elements in a distributed control system or DCS for short.
A DCS can combine the following separate systems into a single automated system:
- Logic Solvers
- Common databases
- Engineering Suites
- Alarm Management
- Human machine interfaces
Here are some of the advantages of DCS:
- Lower overall cost
- Less wiring needed throughout
- Any failure in any main part of the system does not affect the whole plant
- Various instruments are created by software
- Less engineering required
- Possibility of batch management
- Minimal troubleshooting required
Some practical applications for automation in the oil & gas industry include:
- Field interfacing for fuel bulk storage tanks on onshore farms and offshore suppliers
- Supervision and control on driller control stations and pumps
- Human machine interfaces at reactors, dissolvent dryers and centrifuges
- Programming of terminal loading facility for control and monitoring
- Collecting & analysing SCADA data to understand efficiency of processes and operations
Other applications of DCS can include in the metal and mines industry, for use in automobile factories and even in chemical and nuclear power plants to name a few.
There are many benefits and various applications for distributed control systems and the initial cost of implementing the system would pay off in the long run.
Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)
PLCs are commonly part of a DCS system thus it is important to understand both.
A PLC is a digital computer that is utilized for industrial process automation and can either be networked with a DCS or as a standalone system.
PLC are normally used for controlling medium/large scale functions and DCS are used for controlling complete plant operations.
The Programmable Logic Controller is a computer designed specifically for industrial applications that range from simple lighting projects to running entire manufacturing processes. This system can perform a wide variety of functions, providing a large number of analog and digital Input/ Output (I/O) interfaces; and various communication protocols. All the PLC's components and functions revolve around the controller, which is programmed to perform a specific task.
Modern PLCs were introduced in the 1960s and was used in the automobile manufacturing industry. The present PLC has a lot of criteria to satisfy such as higher performance, smaller form factor, and greater functional flexibility. These functionalities along with its robust design make it the best choice for industrial control applications.
You may read more about the Programmable Logic Controller here.
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