Around 900 attended Invensys’ EU ‘OpsManage’ event held in Paris last month. In his opening keynote presentation, Sudipta Battacharya, CEO the operations management division, painted a picture of a fast-morphing process industry as the promise of real time data is fulfilled. Battacharya contrasts the old world of ‘centralized ERP control’ with the real-time empowered future. ‘Real time’s place is not at the CEO level—it’s true use is at the edge—in the hands of the operators. The technology already exists but not the empowerment.’ There is great potential for combining real time data with social networking type tools. But these may cross the human/machine barrier—’what if machines can tweet?’ Some of these ideas have been leveraged in a Chevron-backed refinery of the future proof of concept. Here system performance is monitored in real time, emailing operators with suggestions on how to increase profits and or keep to schedule. This kind of efficiency analysis ‘used to take hours in Excel.’
Leen de Graaf, alarm management expert with Netherlands-based UReason, described a major alarm management initiative carried out at Total E&P Netherlands. The project set out to reduce operator workload on an offshore platform through advanced alarm management. Total’s alarm philosophy is described in a document of ‘required’ or ‘recommended’ alarms—along the lines of ISA 18.02. Alarms must relate to stuff that is relevant and over which an operator has control. For instance, a malfunctioning temperature sensor should not appear in the control room alarm list. The information needs to be routed straight to maintenance. Alarms need to be prioritized as to the required reaction time and the seriousness of the event. UReason’s OASYS-AM software displays the number of alarms per hour etc and other KPIs such as most frequent ‘filtered’ alarms and a most occurring discrepancy list. Results have been good—the system has reached its target of around 12 alarms per hour per platform. The software also supports advanced alarm handling and can be used to detect abnormal process or equipment/environment conditions. The aim is for early warning of impending incidents.
Tyler Williams (founder of computer IT security specialist WurldTech, currently working for Shell) offered insights into process/IT security in the light of Stuxnet. While this brought a lot of attention to SCADA security, Williams warned of the ‘swarm effect,’ whereby everyone runs towards a fix for Stuxnet and loses focus on why such things happen. Security is really a subset of quality. Automation vulnerabilities may exist but most are probably very hard to access and may or may not have a serious consequence. Another issue is ‘work group bias’ as there are multiple stakeholders and ‘competing’ standards—like Hart vs. ISA. IT security is moving fast and automation is following with application white listing just getting started. But the chatter from some intrusion detection systems may overwhelm operators. To cut through the various obstacles, a Shell-led group has set out to leverage ‘people and ideas’ from cFATS, DHS ISA and NIST. The International Instruments Users’ Association, ‘WIB’ is working to get suppliers to provide more secure systems. The WIB’s security requirements document for vendors has been proposed as an ISA standard. The WIB is also working on end users’ security. In the Q&A, Williams opined that while it may be relatively easy to disrupt a plant, the WIB aims to make it very hard to do serious damage. The easiest attack may be a denial of service on the router—especially with wireless systems in the plant. One speaker doubted that this was the case—pointing out that disrupting a modern wireless system required sophisticated spread-spectrum equipment operating in proximity to the plant. Another commentator ‘considered the IT department as a security risk!’
Invensys’ Peter Martin returned to the theme of real time and the operational ‘edge’ observing that efficient plants are not necessarily profitable. Enter profit control with, for instance, continually adjusted contracts for energy, feedstock and product. Here front line personnel are well placed to act, provided they have the right profitability metrics in real time. Because every set point impacts value, we need to change the ingrained culture that determines a set point on the fact that, ‘we’ve always done it that way.’ Such a holistic approach needs to overcome the continuous tension between operations and maintenance. ‘These are the two groups which collaborate least. They don’t like each other because we measure them independently and pit them against each other. We need to measure both on winning the race—not on ‘availability’ and on ‘utilization.’ Because plants are usually constrained by safety considerations rather than capacity, Martin advocates real time measurement of safety risk that will allow an operator to ‘expand’ a constraint if it is OK to do so.
Sven Matthiesen, responsible for safety automation systems at Statoil’s Kalundborg, Denmark refinery, presented Statoil’s technical integrity management program (TIMP). TIMP sets out to ensure complete control of technical integrity in the face of multiple information sources and non-uniform work processes. Statoil’s TIMP tool provides quantitative risk assessment e.g. with a map of reflected pressure exposure across plant. Daily examinations of plant state are carried out with a scoring system. This ranks risks from none or insignificant through ‘substantial issues’ requiring communication to the plant manager to ‘fail,’ where immediate action is required. Performance standards specifically target safety. All are rolled up into a TMT dashboard of safety information on structures, containment, ignition control, power, communications and more. Statoil’s performance standard 15 sets out design principles for explosion barriers and provides a scorecard for the whole plant. Statoil, like others, was very concerned by Stuxnet and has been updating its safety and automation systems using the Norwegian OLF 104 Information security baseline requirements.
Thierry Guillaume (Invensys) provided a primer on the state of the art in process simulation particularly in factory acceptance testing in compliance with IEC 6108 and 61511 FSM. The Triconex TriStation simulates multiple systems in an offline environment and automates safety instrument testing. The Excel-based tool allows for scripting of tests and connects to PLC/DCS emulators via various protocols. Output can be directed to a real hardware controller or, with the SIM4ME executive to software emulators. The system has also been used in a training setting to introduce a fault, see how operators react and then show how the fault originated. The system can also perform dynamic process simulation with Dynsim—testing startup, shutdown and running in fast or slow time, rewinding if something ‘funny’ happens—watching signals fire red and green as you step through the process.
Leen de Graaf (UReason) was back addressing the subject of security, stating that, ‘the banking industry is twenty years ahead of us in cyber security!’ But the situation is improving with clear processes to fix vulnerabilities such as stack overflows in ActiveX controls. Microsoft’s security development lifecycle approach has been helpful as has the trustworthy computing program and the ISA Security Compliance Institute. Things get more difficult when considering legacy software and devices. The SEE Framework is useful—but the threats are constantly increasing. In the period from 2006-2009 around 50-60 vulnerabilities were identified. In 2010 and 2011 there have been 150. ‘It is a real problem.’
Niels Aakvaag’s company, GasSecure, has developed what is claimed to be the first wireless infrared gas detector, developed with backing from Statoil and ConocoPhillips. Wireless offers good coverage with reduced engineering. The downside hitherto has been poor power consumption. GasSecure gets around this with two detectors—one low power ultrasonic time of flight detector detects changes in ambient gas composition. When a change is detected, the second optical sensor device (which uses more power) kicks-in. Other smarts make the meter calibration free and intrinsically safe. A prototype has successfully been tested at Statoil’s Kaarsto gas plant and offshore at Grane. ConocoPhillips has placed an order for its Tor development in 2012.
Pablo Rey presented Technatom’s virtual reality application—first developed to train and practice operations in hazardous areas such as a nuclear plant. The system uses laser scan and photo realistic draped imagery and can be coupled to a 3D TV monitor. A variety of activities and emergency situations have been developed. More from Invensys.
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