The following article is reproduced from the January issue of Chemical Processing with permission.
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CSs comprise field instruments (sensors and actuators), distributed control systems (DCSs), SISs, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, process historians, advanced applications, process analytical systems, and more. An ICS plays a number of key roles:
Repository for Intellectual Property (IP). The ICS is the real-time container of IP, the collective knowledge essential for effective performance and safety. For instance, a DCS may hold details such as the highly proprietary recipe for a polymer product or a complex strategy for controlling the outlet temperature of an ethylene furnace. The configuration of a DCS represents important and highly valuable company IP. Its configuration also includes operational, safety and equipment design operating limits. So, protecting the trade secrets embedded in the configuration of a DCS must be a top concern to a corporation’s general counsel and chief financial officer.
Defender of Safety. The basic process control loop function in a DCS provides protection against process disturbances in real time, preventing a minor upset from becoming a major abnormal situation. The DCS alarm management system notifies the console operator when intervention is required to correct a process or equipment anomaly. The SIS is designed to prevent significant equipment damage as well as catastrophic incidents by detecting unstable and out-of-control conditions and initiating a graceful shutdown of the process. Mechanical relief systems go to work in situations where the SIS has failed to effectively contain an abnormal situation.