In control

A global automation revolution in major projects is taking place, where safety systems form an integral part of the monitoring and control system. Paul Gay reports.

When it comes to major process automation projects, such as new plant construction and existing equipment revamp, integrated control is crucial.



Engineers involved in some of the biggest projects around the world are adopting an approach in which safety systems are closely integrated with the monitoring and control system.



One such example is the RNS-NIS refinery at Novi Sad, which prior to its bombing in 1999 during the Kosovo war was the second largest in former Yugoslavia. It produced some 500,000 tonnes of refined products a year and comprised 153 storage tanks for crude oil, petroleum, fuel and oil lubricants.



Today, parts of the complex are back in operation, while others are under construction. RNS-NIS has decided on its control system for the refinery, and has awarded an automation contract for an integrated process control, field instrumentation and process analysis system to ABB.



The project is based on ABB’s Extended Automation System 800xA, and will automate the refinery’s liquified petroleum gas (LPG) plant and other secondary units. It is scheduled for completion next month when the refinery’s secondary units are due to commence production.



Another example comes from BP, China’s largest LPG importer and operator. To strengthen its position in the Chinese market, BP is bringing online two new 200,000-cubic metre underground storage facilities at its Zhuhai LPG plant on GaolanIsland in GuangdongProvince.



For the expansion BP has chosen an integrated control and safety system (ICSS), awarding the contract for its design and installation to Yokogawa Engineering, Asia.



The architecture will consist mainly of a Centrum CS 3000 R3 Integrated Control System and the ProSafe-RS Integrated Safety Controller. When completed, the terminal will be the second largest LPG terminal in China behind the Ningbo facility — also controlled by a Yokogawa-integrated system.



This automation revolution is not confined to the oil and gas sector. The world’s leading uranium producer, Cameco, has selected Invensys Process Systems to implement a Foxboro automation system at Cigar Lake Mine in Saskatchewan, Canada — the world’s largest undeveloped high-grade uranium deposit.



Here, the system will monitor and control all production operations. The implementation includes the latest I/A Series V8.0 hardware and software, engineering services, training, field services, and Foxboro Hart-based field instrumentation for processes.



CigarLake’s I/A Series system is highly distributed. The latest generation I/A Series family field-mounted control processors are being deployed at various stages of the mining process, having started with the concrete shaft and freeze systems (ore body stabilisation), to be followed by underground ore handling, grinding operations, slurry load-out, and waste water treatment.



A variety of field I/O platforms are being deployed, integrating HART combined analogue and digital signals with Ethernet and serial connections to third-party devices. The system will also interface with Modicon PLC systems using Foxboro’s latest field device system integrator I/O modules.



Cameco’s implementation of the Foxboro control automation project is in two stages. The shaft, concrete plant and freeze systems are being installed now for completion this autumn, while the balance of the operations is due to be ready in 2007. The automation project extends Invensys’ presence at Cameco.



The company’s largest uranium operation at McArthur River Mine, also in Saskatchewan, has benefited from extensive I/A Series automation implementation since 1999.



Canadian Natural Resources has also selected Invensys to provide Triconex safety and critical control systems and related services for Phase I of the £3bn Horizon Oil Sands project underway in northern Alberta. Horizon is a large grassroots mining, bitumen extraction and upgrading facility for production of synthetic crude oil.



Invensys was chosen as the preferred supplier to Canadian Natural for all emergency safety shutdown, boiler management and fire and gas safety systems throughout the project, one of the largest oil extraction projects in Alberta’s Athabasca Oil Sands region.



Canadian Natural is building the project in three phases. For phase I, Invensys is supplying 38 latest-generation Tricon V10 TMR triple modular redundant (TMR) control systems. The Triconex safety and critical control systems will be used to protect processes and business units within the project’s bitumen extraction and upgrading facilities as well as in the co-generation plant and several remote facilities.



The Tricon is an industry-certified, fault-tolerant controller based on triple-modular redundant (TMR) architecture for safety and critical control applications. The architecture employs three isolated, parallel control systems and extensive diagnostics integrated into one system. It uses two-out-of-three voting to provide reliable, uninterrupted process operation with no single point of failure. The Tricon controller’s redundant control functions and diagnostics are embedded and transparent, and the system behaves as a single control device to the engineer or operator.



These high-profile implementations of integrated systems are reflected in the development activities of the major vendors serving the sector.


SAP and Siemens Automation and Drives have decided to collaborate on the delivery of an integrated solution that will help firms share mission critical information between manufacturing execution systems (MES) and business software.



The co-operation will address some of the major issues facing production supervisors and plant managers, such as the lack of integration of MES with business systems on the plant floor, and the need to measure, monitor or control their key performance indicators on demand. A joint offering should lower cost of ownership and simplify implementation, maintenance and performance management.



Emerson Process Management has gained TUV approval for its safety integrated control system to the integrity level of SIL 3. The Delta V SIS received its official certification last month and will provide an interesting alternative to process managers looking for an integrated solution.