A white paper authored by Kepware Technologies’ CEO Tony Paine and Russel Treat, CEO of EnerSys, advocates a distributed architecture for control system communications. The authors observe that while control systems are deployed in many industries, the geographical spread of oil and gas production systems and pipelines make for different requirements.
While industrial control systems may be monolithic and leverage standard off-the-shelf communications, oil and gas deployments will likely be heterogeneous, loosely integrated systems using a mixture of wireless, fiber optic, and telephony.
Communication between applications and field devices requires the use multiple wireless technologies each with its own bandwidth and quality of service limitations. Currently such systems are managed by a central host. The trouble is that, in the absence of a universal protocol, the host-centric approach scales poorly and soon degenerates as it hogs bandwidth and delays transactions. Achieving an overall view of pump stations, compressor stations and processing plants is complicated by the proliferating data collectors.
Enter the new distributed communications architecture, a peer to peer system that spreads data collectors across multiple computers, each closer to field devices, and that handles issues such as intermittent connectivity. What magic underlies such a system? It is our old friend (Oil ITJ Jan 2012) the OPC Unified Architecture, ‘whose purpose is to allow vendors to solve these very problems.’ The authors conclude that ‘The new architecture provides oil and gas operations with an alternative to the current model. One that is more secure and cost effective, and that will scale to meet tomorrow’s needs.’ More from Kepware and EnerSys.
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