In recent years, the increased diversification of power generation has raised the complexity involved with its management and analysis. For example, the U.S. branch of a large-scale electrical utility company built a national control center in Portland, where it helps customers realize the risks associated with natural gas and the benefits of having sustainable power. Opened in 2001, the control center manages more than 3500 MW of wind power in 20 states and is tasked with coming up with strategies of adding 1000 MW renewable energy every year.
Energy efficiency within a plant can be improved drastically if the energy usage can be monitored reliably and displayed clearly. Human Machine Interfaces or HMIs can help make this a reality, as they can connect with the associated RTUs and controllers to provide a comprehensive energy usage summary, upon which analysis can be carried out and action be taken.
Topics: HMI Panels
The word “convergence” started gaining a foothold in the industrial world over the start of the 21st century when several trends shifted, with time-tested technologies such as PLCs taking over the new process automation markets and newer concepts such as PC-based controls taking over discrete automation. There was a time when the industrial world used to operate in black and white, and every system integrator and manufacturer knew the specific technology for a particular application.
Today, however, the situation is much more grey. The debate over PLCs vs. PC-based controls goes on, hot and heavy, and reflects how much the world of industrial control is prone to change. All this is actively promoting the concept of “convergence” of technologies, making room for cutting-edge concepts of IoT and Industry 4.0.
It all started with push buttons that controlled lights and switches. From then on, hardwired devices took over and came to be known as electronic panels. Integrated circuits emerged afterwards, and soon personal computers and software programs took over the control of industrial assets, powered by local and wide area networks.
The evolution of Human Machine Interfaces, or HMIs, has been going on for decades and has been influenced, shaped, and powered by emerging technologies in the fields of electronics, telecommunication, and power engineering. In the past 30 years, HMIs have been used for communication and control, and the way they’ve been used has changed with the evolving technology.
Textbooks are great for building concepts, and would probably bombard you with a plethora of information that you might think is enough to strive in the practical world. The truth however uncovers itself the day you graduate and get an on-site job. Several graduates are surprised with the level of differences with what goes in the field, and what was taught in the classroom.
When it comes to PID control systems, the effect gets amplified due to the number of inaccuracies that need to be considered in the real world. How can one go along the PID Learning Curve, and come out an expert? Namely, by doing in field testing and optimizing on PID controls.
Interoperability is an important yet tricky function in industrial plants. The term interoperable refers to a product’s ability to work alongside and communicate with products from other manufacturers. It’s a basic standardization of machines in the industry. But it isn’t an easy thing to guarantee.
Most standards for automation and controls today are vertical. Each standard matches with a specific function or machine and, typically, only that function or machine. So there are few to no general standards across different controls and functions in industry. Many manufacturers also use different methods and technologies in their products, some of which can be incompatible. This is why standards for interoperability are necessary for future products and controls.
With every passing year, the world is getting increasingly energy-hungry. While the demand continues to rise, our society can no longer sustain unrestrained and inefficient use of non-renewable resources. The industrial community is following a trend of enhancing their equipment’s energy efficiency, cutting costs which can be placed elsewhere. The trend is backed by penalties during high-demand periods as well as government action. The ErP legislation in Europe demands the use of VFDs or VSDs on high efficiency class motors and Title 24 in California requires frequency control on HVAC segments. These demands have kicked off a successful chain of events for efficient use of non-renewable resources, and are reaching down to OEMs and panel builders.
Graduates who are now coming into the industrial sector are more accustomed to using Facebook, Whatsapp, and emails than conventional software programs. And even older engineers and technicians are adapting to using new technology within the working environment. But this doesn’t mean smartphones and tablets can always be allowed within company networks and on the plant floor.
When it comes to electrical safety, circuit breakers are one of the first things to come to mind. It’s essentially a fail-safe that protects a system from overloading hazards and other electrical faults. However, the cost to design and build one can get quite high, especially as a circuit breaker’s current capacity increases. So how do owners, contractors, and others save money when purchasing circuit breakers?
When it comes to electrical panels, there are two terms to be familiar with: fully rated and series rated. Fully rated panels are breakers rated for the available fault current that is at the terminal of the breaker. These are the more expensive to make, especially as you get higher and higher in fault current.
Fast-paced industrialization and urbanization has contributed greatly to the rise of low voltage industrial controls in several industrial sectors. Industrial controls make up one of the most vibrant sectors because it is present and/or overlaps several other industry verticals. Advancement in technology and cost-effective production have all helped the low voltage control market to gain new heights.
Overall, the low voltage industrial controls market can be divided into three segments: products used in industrial controls, applications, and geography.