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Integrated Engineering towards Industry 4.0

World Cement,

For decades now, the slogan of “Integrated Engineering” has figured prominently in the construction of plants in the process industry. The idea of a single tool for the complete life cycle of a plant still sounds alluring. However, things look quite different in practice. The reality of the process industry is heterogeneous, and so are the software solutions. The demand is for modern I&C-CAE systems with standardised interfaces. These remove communication barriers in the heterogeneous system landscape, and bring Industry 4.0 a significant step closer to reality, paving the way to profitable, secure plants with high availability.

Fig.1: Production sites today usually consist of many sub-plants built, extended, added to and modernized at different times. (Photo: Fotosearch)

Production sites today generally consist of many sub-plants, each completed, extended, added to and modernised at different times (Fig. 1). To keep modular “landscapes” of this kind – which are necessarily very heterogeneous – productive, a great deal of integration work is required. EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) firms responsible for detail planning and control, procurement and carrying out construction and installation work, have to master the related challenges. In a homogeneous world everything would surely be easier for them – at least on first sight. All solutions would be similarly structured, and there would be only a limited need for different interfaces.

Heterogeneous World, or: Using the Best of Everything

However, it is more than doubtful whether the principle of “everything from one source” would be desirable in reality. It is the “heterogeneous world” which opens up the possibility for process plants to make use of the best of everything, thus preparing the way for innovative solutions. But then, in order for processes to run smoothly, the right interface policy is needed at every stage of a plant’s lifetime, from engineering to the operative phase with its process improvements, expansions and modernizations (Fig. 2). Here the Industry 4.0 initiative is currently elaborating standards for instrumentation and control technology, for instance with DIN EN 62424 (representation of the tasks of instrumentation and control engineering), IEC 61987 (lists of properties), NE 150 (data exchange between I&C and DCS engineering) and IEC 62541 (OPC architecture). This is only a beginning, and an end to the efforts is by no means in sight. However, already today system-neutral engineering tools, appropriate interfaces and consistent, unified documentation are creating the prerequisites for removing communication barriers. This enables project planning and delivery times to be reduced and project risks to be minimised.

Fig. 2: For smoothly-running processes, the right interface policy is needed, starting with engineering and continuing into the operative phase with all its process improvements, extensions and modernizations – in fact, throughout the whole life cycle of the plant. (Photo: Rösberg)

Revision-proof interfaces are essential

Wherever various different software solutions have to work together, this is always bound to present challenges for the interfaces. The automation experts from Rösberg in Karlsruhe (see company description box), know this from their own experience. Their I&C-CAE planning tool Prodok NG (see technology description box 1) supports the user in plant planning and construction, and together with the documentation tool Livedok (see technology description box 2) accompanies the plant beyond the planning phase throughout its life cycle, in operation and maintenance.

Special attention is paid to revision-proof data exchange. In the planning, construction and commissioning of a plant, many different software tools are generally in use. In the course of the planning process all of these deliver relevant data for documentation, which have to be transmitted to the I&C-CAE system. In order for this to fit seamlessly into the existing system landscape, reliable “adapters” are needed. Here the data delivered by other software tools involved in plant engineering are converted and passed on to Prodok NG (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3: “Adapters” convert data delivered by other software tools participating in plant engineering, and pass them on to Prodok. (Photo: Rösberg)

Data import: the example of process engineering

How this works in practice is best illustrated by an example. Thus in plant engineering, various EPC enterprises generate the process engineering data (Fig. 4). For this, each individual firm uses the tools it is accustomed to work with. But this is ultimately not important, because the right adapter is available. The EPCs deliver the device data and signals in a predetermined standard XLS format; the import module transmits them to the planning system, which then takes over the central administration of all the process engineering data. During the import, changed data are marked and logged. Thus they also include the information about when they were changed, and by whom, as well as a status, e.g. “provisional” or “final”. The corresponding revision technology is integrated into the adapter, as is the knowledge of the source system.

Fig. 4: In plant engineering various EPC enterprises deliver the process engineering data. For this each firm uses the tools it is accustomed to work with. (Photo: Rösberg)

In all other areas, including DCS engineering and procurement, communication is just as barrier-free. The range of corresponding interfaces for data import is growing all the time. For instance, there are revision-proof interfaces for SmartPlant P&ID, AutoCAD P&ID and similar systems. And of course the adapters can be used to configure the usual standards for data exchange between the trades involved in process planning and I&C- CAE planning, as well as individual software systems such as ISO15926 or CAEX. A CAD core is already integrated into the new Prodok NG, which reduces costs for the user. The communication standard eCl@ss Advanced additionally offers standardised device specifications and the import of manufacturer data, which helps to save a lot of time when acquiring new devices. (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5: The communication standard eCl@ss Advanced also offers standardized deice specifications and the import of manufacturer data, which helps to save a lot of time when acquiring new devices. (Photo: Rösberg)

Scalable operator interfaces and cloud compatibility

Further advantages for the user are a Microsoft.NET Framework 4.5, and a user interface based on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), enabling function and design to be separated and providing vector graphics which ensure ideal, individually adaptable presentation at any resolution – whether on desktops, mobile devices or web browsers (Fig. 6). Prodok NG is also cloud compatible. This enables work to be carried out simultaneously at different locations throughout the world and allows cross-locational use of project data. Here Prodok NG’s automatic revision management is also helpful, since altered or deleted data and documents are always marked, making their status recognisable. The “adapters” can also translate, if software tools deliver data in different languages. This means that in the heterogeneous world of process plants, communication barriers are a thing of the past – not only in engineering, but also in commissioning and throughout the whole lifetime of the plant. Together with LiveDok, Prodok NG ensures “live” As-built documentation which is always current, with the option of mobile access, for instance when checklists need to be worked through.

Fig. 6: Together with LiveDok, Prodok NG ensures “living” As-built documentation which is always up-to-date, with mobile access options which can be used, e.g. when working through checklists. (Photo: Rösberg)

Technology Description Box 1: The I&C-CAE System

For more than 25 years now, Rösberg Engineering has been offering the Prodok, a powerful I&C-CAE system which ensures an integrated planning process with unified rules. Now Prodok NG, the next generation of this proven, combines decades of experience with the most modern software technology, making the I&C-CAE system an “out of the box” solution which is simple to operate, flexible and inexpensive, and offers new possibilities in terms of visualisation, modularisation, integration into different system landscapes, databases and cloud applications.

Technology Description Box 2: Documentation made easy

The more up-to-date the plant documentation, the more effective is the work of the plant personnel. Livedok has been specially developed and tailored to the processes and requirements of plant operation and support. Using this system, plants can be documented electronically, meaning that making tedious multiple changes to paper documentation, and time-consuming hunts for documents, become things of the past. Livedok supports the complete life cycle of documentation, from document generation to comfortable use and the revision of the changed documents, and is also suitable for use on mobile devices. The Livedok Browser makes child’s play of navigation and searches in an electronic filing system, and makes it easy to change documents using intuitive, high-performance tools. The redlining options range from handwritten entries, through text marking and strikethrough, to dynamic stamping and many more.

Special report by Rösberg Engineering GmbH

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