Automation Engineering

Industrial manufacturing companies are increasingly challenged to produce more with less. The productivity of yesterday’s most efficiently operated facilities is not acceptable for even mid-pack performance today. Plus, the current corporate downsizing trend makes clearing the productivity bar even more difficult. We understand the economic pressures you face—and our industrial automation services can help. You need us to be skilled in all aspects of process control engineering because we all understand that the greatest influence over project success or failure comes from the earliest stages of conceptual design, long before the actual programming effort ever begins.​

Design, Implement, & Construct

Once we’ve helped define the automation engineering service requirements in the front-end project phases, our systems group is comprehensive in its capability to provide transmitter-to-value engineering. Our industrial automation services supply complete, fabricated, configured, and tested safety and control systems, including Basic Process Control Systems (BPCS), Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS), Burner Management Systems (BMS), High Integrity Pressure Protection Systems (HIPPS), and Fire and Gas Systems (FGS). The result is a totally integrated automation lifecycle, from project inception to operation.

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aeSolutions Integration Services

• Project Management – Administrate Development of Key

   Project Deliverables

• Initial Survey, Scope Definition, Goal Identification

• Conceptual and Preliminary Design Package Preparation

• Equipment and Functional Specification Development

• Execution Strategies and Cutover Plan Formulation

• Budget and Cost Estimating

• Facilitate Relationships Among Project Stakeholders

• Complete Construction Drawing Package Development

• PLC and HMI Programming

• Legacy Control System Migration

• Project Automation Scheduling - Resources and People

• FAT and SAT Plan Creation

• Control Panel Design and Fabrication to UL 508A, NNNY

   or NRBX

• Construction Support

• FAT and SAT Support

Automation Services

Systems Integration

Project Management

Shaping a Successful Result from the Start aeSolutions manages every project with a comprehensive set of tools for planning and tracking tasks, deliverables, and milestones. Clear communications and rigorous documentation ensure that client expectations are met throughout the project.

  • Dedicated project management group
  • Project scheduling and tracking
  • Resource allocation
  • Scope and budget control
  • Project execution planning
  • Risks, roles, and accountabilities identification
  • Meetings, action lists, and reporting
  • Project deliverable approval cycles
  • Gate reviews between approval stages
  • Purchasing and shipping
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Project Assessment Studies

Articulating the Project Vision aeSolutions engages its clients' stakeholders to determine project goals, scope boundaries, assumptions, and customer requirements. A common vision of the project is formulated in a project assessment report.

  • Site and field investigations
  • Current state quantification
  • Client requirements
  • Scope and boundaries
  • Project assumptions
  • Project vision
  • Assessment report

Conceptual Design

Characterizing the Control System aeSolutions' experienced professionals work closely with the client's engineers to map out the preliminary scope of work for the project and propose a high level view of the system requirements. The conceptual design includes a budgetary estimate and schedule to support the feasibility and business case reviews.

  • Scope of work for conceptual design
  • Conceptual system architecture
  • Migration strategies
  • Operational philosophy
  • Preliminary I/O counts
  • Preliminary Bill Of Material
  • Wiring philosophy
Project cost and schedule estimates +/- 30%

Feasibility and Business Case

Driving the Decision with Data Business drivers are evaluated, including return on investment, and safety and environmental issues. The earlier project assessment report and conceptual design provide essential data for this study. aeSolutions offers consultation, staff augmentation, and assistance with deliverables to support the decision making steps.

  • ROI and other justification
  • Risk assessment
  • Project alternatives
  • Preliminary engineering scope of work
  • Design review plans
  • Procurement plan
  • Vendor data
  • Project cost and schedule estimates +/- 20%

Preliminary Engineering

Converting Concept to Design Basis aeSolutions works under a project execution plan and performs the engineering to evolve a solid project design basis from an earlier conceptual design. Client review and approval cycles assure the quality of the functional requirements specification and the control system vendor evaluations.

  • Functional requirements specification
  • Instrument list and I/O count
  • Plant drawings (P&I, I&E, Loop, LAN, Arrangement)
  • Preliminary project architecture and migration drawings
  • Vendor platform evaluations
  • Bills of Material - hardware and software
  • Project cost and schedule estimates +/- 10%

Hardware Design Specifications

Developing Hardware Details aeSolutions and the client establish specific project standards for the detailed hardware design of the system and the field I/O.

  • Input / Output database and signal types
  • Control system cabinet layout practices
  • Controller, I/O, and interface modules
  • HMI operator interface equipment
  • Control networks, switches, fiber optics, and cabling
  • Marshalling cabinets and interposing relays
  • Servers and clients
  • Engineering workstations
  • Purging, temperature, smoke and fire detection

Software Design Specifications

Developing Software Details aeSolutions and the client establish project design standards for the system software and the HMI operator functions. aeSolutions and the client create detailed design specifications for each loop and control scheme. Individual control loops are configured and tested to the software design specifications.

  • Alarm management, summaries, and signals
  • Faceplates, Icons, screen navigation
  • Control loop specifications: tags, functions, parameters
  • Advanced control loop specifications
  • Process interlocks, alarms, first-outs, and resets
  • Batch control and phase logic
  • Process historian, alarm archives, trend displays
  • OPC, Modbus, and field bus interfaces

Instrument, Electrical, and Field Bus Design

Connecting to the Process aeSolutions provides CAD and engineering services for instrumentation, field devices, and electrical equipment including layout, installation, wiring, junction boxes, and cable runs.

  • Instrument data sheets
  • Installation details and connection diagrams
  • Junction box layout and interconnections
  • Location and arrangement drawings
  • Loop sheets and field wiring
  • Intrinsic safety analysis and barriers
  • Field bus and device wiring
  • Cabling, conduit, tray routing and fill
  • Grounding and shielding
  • Conductor sizing, voltage drop
  • Lighting, power plans, panel schedules
  • Single-line diagrams, motor elementaries, MCC views
  • Demolition drawings

Network Design

Distributing Monitoring and Control aeSolutions designs industry standard as well as vendor specific networks for distributing controllers, I/O, data servers, and operator stations. Networks like Industrial Ethernet can be a composite of cables, fiber optics, and wireless systems, with managed switches and routers. Control system vendors usually recommend products and standards that they have tested for reliability, bandwidth, deterministic protocols, redundancy, distances, and industrial environments. Access points between the wide area enterprise networks and the critical control system networks must be managed carefully. Installation quality and signal testing are critical to achieving a fast, reliable control network.

  • Distributed I/O networks
  • Controller communication networks
  • HMI servers and client networks
  • Switches, routers, and firewalls
  • Single mode and multimode fiber optics
  • Coax and twisted pair cables
  • Drawings and Bills of Material

Control System Configuration

Creating Consistently Correct Control aeSolutions' qualified specialists configure executable control logic and operator stations (HMI) to perform the required process functionality in accordance with project standards and client review cycles. Controls are configured according to a Software Design Specification. Software quality standards lead to consistent, correct, maintainable control systems.

  • Function block, ladder, sequencer, structured language
  • Engineering workstation configuration and productivity tools
  • Alarm management logic, summaries, and signals
  • Displays, faceplates, screen navigation, dynamics, trends
  • Tag database, set points, messages, and symbols
  • Regulatory and advanced control loops
  • Process interlocks, alarms, first-outs, and resets
  • Batch management and phase logic
  • Process historian, alarm archives, reports
  • Foreign device interfaces
  • Asset management and maintenance system

Hardware Design and Panel Fabrication

Supplying World-Class Panels aeSolutions operates its own 10,000 square foot FM approved and UL 508a certified panel fabrication and testing facility. The aeSolutions team designs and builds sophisticated panels both for a wide variety of projects, from small operator PLC cabinets, to large multi-bay safety and control systems designed to run large facilities. aeSolutions engineers specify and purchase hardware and software. Equipment is staged in the facility during integration and factory acceptance testing.

  • CAD drawings
  • Power supply, UPS, battery sizing
  • Heat load calculations
  • Panel Layout, wire ways, and interconnection wiring
  • Painting, labelling
  • Pressurization, purging
  • OEM racks, cards, relays, termination units, networks
  • Firmware, revisions, compatibilities
  • Bills of Material, purchasing, receiving, shipping

Simulation and Factory Acceptance Testing

Approving the Configurations aeSolutions builds process simulation test beds to prove that controls and operator interfaces will function in accordance with project requirements. A FAT plan with checklists lets the client's representatives test every loop and HMI screen against the Software Design Specification. Quality of workmanship can be reviewed. Punch list items are resolved before shipping the system.

  • Approved FAT test plan
  • FAT test results and punch list disposition
  • Option 1. Simulation panels hardwired to the real system I/O cards to emulate field devices.
  • Option 2. Simulation logic configured in the real controllers while ignoring real I/O racks.
  • Option 3. Simulation computers that interface to the real controller's I/O bus in place of the real I/O racks
  • Option 4. Simulation server systems that emulate the real controllers and I/O (for testing logic configurations without controller hardware).

Construction, Installation, Commissioning

Realizing the Vision aeSolutions can supply the construction scope of work and support the client with preparing and analyzing bid packages based on the detailed design. aeSolutions can support the control system and field installation activities, including power up and commissioning with cabinet testing, communication testing, and I/O signal testing. Commissioning demonstrates that the control system hardware and all the I/O devices are connected correctly and functioning.

  • Construction schedule, scope of work
  • Construction bid package
  • Construction bid evaluation support
  • Installation drawings
  • On-site construction support
  • Commissioning check sheets
  • On-site commissioning support

Site Acceptance Testing and Startup

Testing and Turn Over After the control system and all the I/O have been installed and commissioned, aeSolutions works with the client to supply the Site Acceptance Testing in accordance with aeSolutions' generated SAT plan. SAT is similar to the FAT, but includes testing of actual field devices and foreign device interfaces. Site Acceptance Testing proves that the supplied system, including the control logic and operator stations, is interfaced to the field I/O correctly and performs in accordance with the project specifications. aeSolutions offers startup support after the client has accepted the system.

  • Approved SAT test plan
  • SAT test results and punch list disposition
  • Startup assistance support

Training Services

Empowering the People aeSolutions provides webinars and training. Training specific to a control system project may be customized with training materials and manuals for operators or technical personnel. Project classes can be scheduled at aeSolutions' offices in conjunction with Factory Acceptance Testing, or at the client's site in conjunction with Site Acceptance Testing. Technical training offered by the control system vendor should be completed prior to the project specific technical training by aeSolutions.

  • Instructor with laptop from aeSolutions
  • Training syllabus, course outline
  • Training notebook materials
  • Hands-on exercises on client's system

Maintenance and Support

Supporting Client Successes aeSolutions offers qualified specialists to support clients' needs. Personnel can be provided to augment the client's staff or to consult on specific issues (hardware, software, safety, advanced control, networks, and alarm management, to name a few.) A Technical Services Agreement (TSA) is an annual arrangement with a time-plus-expenses purchase order and discounted pricing. The TSA makes pre-designated specialists available for pre-planned work or for short notice call outs. A small annual fee applies. For emergency service calls without a TSA in place, aeSolutions will make every effort to respond, depending on resource availability.

  • Staff augmentation services
  • Consulting services
  • Technical services agreement (TSA)
  • Emergency service order

Lifecycle and Upgrade Planning

Looking Ahead aeSolutions can provide the client with strategies, alternatives, and estimates for upgrades and migrations of safety and control systems.

  • Current state versus obsolescence
  • Software upgrades
  • Hardware upgrades
  • Platform and vendor migrations
  • Integration opportunities
  • Safety and Control System harmonizing
  • Expansions


Automation Applications

Process Automation Systems

Modernizing for Productivity and Profit aeSolutions has years of experience automating industrial processes using state of the art Distributed Control System (DCS) technologies. From the proprietary control system processors of the 1990's, to the powerful open-systems DCS platforms of today, aeSolutions engineers have provided process automation solutions to clients in every type of industry: chemical, polymer, textile, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, automotive, mining, oil and gas, refining, combustion, power, utilities, water treatment, and more. Using comprehensive standards for project definition and execution, aeSolutions promises a Successful Result from the Start™.

  • DCS - 300 tags to 30,000 tags
  • Batch, continuous, and sequential controls
  • Advanced and model-based controls
  • Communications, networks, security
  • Human Machine Interface (HMI) solutions
  • Safety and control systems integration

Factory Automation Systems

Mechanizing in Real Time aeSolutions has delivered automation solutions with Programmable Logic Controllers for nearly two decades. In the 1970's, a PLC was a programmable emulator of relay ladder logic. Today, a PLC is a scaled down controller, often stand alone, but with much of the power and some of the functions of controllers used in DCS process automation. Multiple PLC's are often networked somewhat like a DCS with fewer features. aeSolutions can provide the right PLC automation system when a client needs highly reliable and very fast real time response to events in a manufacturing cell or an electromechanical panel. Ruggedized operator displays and touch screens allow local HMI control. The PLC can also be interfaced to a supervising DCS.

  • High speed I/O and processing
  • Ruggedized environment
  • Basic networking and communications
  • Ladder logic programming familiar to I&E staff
  • Scalable in size and cost

Safety Instrumented Systems

Delivering Safety on Demand aeSolutions is especially qualified with Certified Functional Safety Experts to quantify process hazard risks and develop the safety requirements specifications for a process. National and international standards and regulations require that a safety interlock must meet a prescribed safety integrity level SIL-1 thru SIL-4 to have an acceptable probability of failure on demand for its associated hazard. There are many aspects to supplying the required SIL level, including the logic solver, I/O cards, redundancies, program blocks, networks, and the operator interactions. aeSolutions satisfies a project's safety interlock SIL requirements with independent, SIL-certified safety PLC's that can be integrated with the process automation DCS for monitoring and alarming. aeSolutions' engineering specialists will design, configure, test, and install documented Safety Instrumented Systems that verifiably meet the client's Safety Requirements Specifications.

  • Logic solver hardware and software, TUV or Exida certified
  • Operator interaction through Cause and Effect matrix
  • Controlled access and modification protections
  • Secure fail safe communications for distributed safety
  • Verification test plans

Fire and Gas Systems

Furnishing the Last Line of Defense aeSolutions' family of products includes FM-approved fire and gas systems for industrial installations. The pre-engineered package is scalable and configurable to meet the client's requirements. As a last line of defense when the plant's DCS and SIS are both incapacitated by disaster, the F&G system has self-contained power for 24 hours and a standalone first responder's panel. Under normal conditions, the DCS operator may also graphically view the status of the detectors and interlocks. FM-approvals are maintained for Fire System Monitoring and Gas Monitoring and their mitigation controls within the TUV-certified SIL-rated PLC.

  • Fire System Monitor and Control, FM-approved for NFPA 72 conformance
  • Gas Monitor and Control, FM-approved for combustible gas standard 6320, toxic gas standard 6340, and ANSI/ISA 12.13.01 performance requirements
  • Scalable for 50 to 50,000 I/O
  • Listed field detection and alarm devices
  • FM-approved battery set and charger panel
  • Fire and Gas off-the-shelf product - FGS1400 MKII

Burner Management Systems (BMS)

Mitigating Fired System Hazards aeSolutions' family of products includes industrial BMSs in several packages. The pre-engineered packages are configurable to meet the client's safety requirements. Under current standards a BMS must meet prescriptive interlock requirements, depending on the type of combustion system. In addition, SIS interlock performance standards must be met. The aeSolutions BMS meets all prescriptive and performance standards for dependable protection of people and property, during startup, shutdown, and operation. The safety BMS is often supplied as an integrated Combustion Management System (CCS) package, which includes an aeSolutions CCS for operating and optimizing the plant.

  • Meets FM 7605, IEC 61508, IEC 61511, ANSI/ISA 84.00.01
  • NFPA 85, NFPA 86 API 556 and/or API 14C
  • Available up to SIL-3
  • Graphical HMI and automated local light-off
  • Support for function testing
  • Communications to CCS and DCS
  • Combustion management engineering

Combustion Control Systems

Optimizing Fuel Air Operation aeSolutions' family of products includes industrial Combustion Control Systems in several packages. The pre-engineered packages are configurable to meet the client's operational requirements. The CCS is readily configured to implement a variety of fuel-saving optimization techniques, including fully metered / cross-limited fuel air control with oxygen trim, and interfacing to a wide variety of field sensors, analyzers, and valves. The CCS is often supplied as an integrated Combustion Management System package, which includes an aeSolutions BMS for safe startup, shutdown, and interlocking.

  • Graphical HMI common to CCS and BMS
  • Alarming, tuning, and diagnostic displays
  • Communications to BMS and DCS
  • Multiple fuel optimization
  • Cross-limiting, Oxygen trim
  • Boilers, heaters, dryers, thermal oxidizers
  • Combustion Management Engineering

Human Machine Interfaces

Interacting with Intuitive Information aeSolutions designs and configures human machine interfaces for control and safety systems. HMI varieties range from DCS vendors' hefty client-server systems to small touch screens engineered with special purpose panels. To avoid incidents, an operator needs to quickly comprehend and react appropriately to changing conditions in the plant. Flashy graphics of the 1990's had too many distractions and made it hard to comprehend abnormal situations. Standards working groups like ASM, and ISA101-HMI are driving toward industry consensus.

  • Control rooms, ergonomic multi-window stations
  • Field panels, touch screen HMI
  • Situational awareness
  • Contextual data and trends
  • Intuitive navigation
  • Meaningful dynamics
  • Single HMI for multiple control platforms and migrations
  • Project specific HMI style guide

Alarm Management Systems

Alerting Appropriate Action aeSolutions provides services and systems to bring the client's alarm management practices into compliance with the standards that are now required for hazardous processes. Poor alarm management has been a critical factor in major process safety incidents. The new requirements address the effectiveness of alarms and the ability of operating personnel to respond promptly and correctly. aeSolutions can supply expertise at all stages of alarm management including consulting, training, and facilitating rationalization teams, followed by full design and implementation services.

  • IEC 62682, ISA 18.2, EEMUA 191
  • Alarm management training seminars
  • Alarm philosophy document
  • Alarm Master Data Base
  • Alarm rationalization, classification, prioritization
  • Alarm suppression and shelving logic
  • Alarm summaries, journals, hit lists
  • Alarm audible / visual annunciation

Advanced Control

Enlisting More Variables aeSolutions process control specialists solve problems with Advanced Regulatory Control (ARC) when single variable PID control is not adequate. Cascade, feed forward, ratio, Smith predictor, and override controls are standard methods to include an additional process variable in PID loops to compensate for process dead time, or non-linearity. Multivariable and model-based controls are employed for more complex process automation challenges encountered in chemical plants and refineries. aeSolutions helps the client's process engineers take advantage of the multivariable control capabilities found in the latest generation of DCS systems. These offer real time performance with multivariable models available at the controller's function library level.

Batch Control

Automating Batch Procedures aeSolutions designs and implements discrete and continuous batch systems for DCS supervision and control. Some clients who chose to avoid batch in previous generations of DCS now find it advantageous to implement batch with their process automation migrations.

  • ANSI/ISA-88 standards
  • Batch management
  • Batch historian
  • Batch reports
  • Golden batches
  • Recipes
  • Routing
  • Process units, equipment and control modules
  • Unit procedures, operations, phase logic
  • Sequential function control

Migration Solutions

Moving up with Modernization Many clients are faced with moving their safety and control systems to a newer platform, sometimes to a different vendor. aeSolutions offers project services to assess system options and define an architecture that best serves the client's needs. Then the project stages described under "Automation Services" will shepherd the migration through definition, design, installation, and startup. Migrations offer opportunities to realize a maximally integrated safety and control system, with great benefits for functionality, operability, safety, maintenance, and engineering productivity. Migration projects with careful planning can be done in phases, such as replacing operator consoles first. Finally, migrations usually involve moving from obsolete systems to newer generation platforms. aeSolutions' clients are encouraged to embrace the enhanced technology and take advantage of the opportunity to add improved process automation and modernized human interfaces.