"Integrated" Control Systems


Thread Starter


We are currently in the process of upgrading our refinery pneumatic and relay based DCS/ESD to an micro-processor based electronic system i.e. to the latest DCS/ESD systems.

The term "integrated" control systems have cropped up often during our discussions with the various system vendors such as Honeywell, Invensys, Yokogawa, ABB, etc where they seem to urge us to procure the DCS and ESD systems from the same vendor to get the full benefits of "integration".

On detailed analysis and discussions with these vendors, it seems that no standard (IEC, SHELL, etc.) seems to provide a basic guideline or checklist to say how integrated control systems are evaluated.

My question is how does one evaluate if the DCS and ESD are truly integrated and if there is an industry standard for the same? Each vendor tries to poke holes in the competitor's systems saying that they are not "truly integrated".
With refence to your search for "Integrated" control system, please note that all the mentioned vendors are more focused on getting the job than to provide the solution. But being the real integrated control system as projected is always meant for some specific range of products offered by the particular vendors. However a true integrated system is essentially a mixture of various vendor's products (thanks that the products do not care for money in themselves.) After all the level of the so called integartion is limited in scope and operation.

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Yes, of course Vendors are going to be focused on getting the job. That's how they stay in business.

The point about an "integrated" control system system is that your instrumentation, electrical and automation people only need to learn one system. The operators only ever need to learn to use one HMI.

When a new project or upgrade comes along there's no argument about whether it should go in the Allen Bradley PLC or the Foxboro DCS or the DeltaV that you have in the water plant. There's only one set of spares holding. All your training is done at the same place. The list goes on & on.

You are in the extremely fortunate position where you have the choice to go for a single vendor who can supply a complete solution for your needs. I would strongly advise you against getting a mixture of systems from different vendors. A typical petrochemical plant is large and requires a team of people to look after it and good support from your chosen DCS vendor. You wont get this if you mix and match.

As for comparing systems. Well, you probably want to be more specific in your questions to a discussion group like this. To start with, define your requirements. Then, look at which systems other companies in your business are using. You need to look at the supplier's expertise in your industry, level of local support etc. Then you can begin to eliminate the obviously unsuitable. Then you can start to compare systems. Get customer references from each supplier and go visit them if you can.

My 2C


Yes Mr. Rob its is a fact. But let me clarify the situation a little further. As you know in todays IT environment nothing can stand in isolation whatever the range of products from any vendor. This or that way you have to go for the Mixture....of course if not at the process level then at the ERP level.

One thing more - gone are the days when people were scary of learning new and multiple systems. I would call the difference almost cosmetic in these vendors. Now this can not be the basis for huge money to be paid to some vendor just because "they" say that it is Integrated control??

At the end we need to focus on optimization not on monopolization based on marketing efforts totally ignoring the end user Real requirments.

AL-Mayssan Technical Services Co.
SCADA & Automation Division
I'm afraid in this sense the word integrated can mean whatever the vendor defines it to mean. There is no standard as such that I am aware of.

To echo an earlier post it is most important you define your own particular requirements first and examine each offering against a standard set of criteria. That way you are being fair and being driven by what your particular site requires rather than a particular vendors definition.

Some specific things to ask:

- How do I configure the DCS software wise? How do I configure the ESD system? Are those interfaces the same hardware/software? (sometimes they are different to a large extent negating the common vendor hardware/software/training savings)

- How does the DCS and ESD system communicate? How do I engineer that interface? what databases do I have to build?

- What happens when DCS and ESD lose communications with each other?

- If the hardware nominally looks the same what stops somebody putting the wrong module in the wrong system?

- How does my "integrated" system work from an alarm management/SOE point view?

- How does my integrated system link with third parties such as UCPs?

- What about fire and gas detection?

- What about links to the sites business/IT systems and networks?

I could go on but this might help stimulate your own questions. The first 2 paragraphs are most important.

Most modern specialist ESD vendors can communicate with DCSs via "open" (another dodgy word) technologies. Look for Hima, RTP Corp amongst others.

By the way I don't work for any vendor.

Good luck

"A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials"
Thanks a lot for your input, guys.

Rob, I do agree that my requirements need to be clear before entering into such forums but the sole intent of raising the question was only to understand what "integrated" truly stands for and if there were any global guidelines to understand the same.
A typical eg. is that Triconex (ESD) does not typical 'sit' on the 'Node' bus, it is connected to the same via the Invensys IA Controller rack but all data, alarms, programming are seamless / transparent and that too from a common(DCS & ESD)Engg operator station. So for some, the Triconex (ESD) is not 'fully' integrated with the DCS system but some differ on the same.

Dave, Arshad, thanks for your inputs, a lot of thought has gone into the same and really appreciate it.
Based on what you have said I think what you are refering to are systems that combine the safety (ESD) and control systems (BPCS).

ABB, Emerson & Yokogawa all do this. The advantage is a single vendor for both safety & control. The HMI side of the system sees both seemlessly, etc. They can use a common engineering workspace on common engineering stations.

Things to be aware off in such systems.

1: You can use process variables from the safety system in the process control system. BUT if you do this your control system is not independant of the safety system and cannot be used as an independant layer in safety analysis.

2: You will need to be very careful with engineering allowances. You should never allow just anyone access to your safety system. As it is accessed through the same engineering workspace in these systems you will need to be very mindful of what you allow each user to have access to.

3: Because these systems are connected and likely connected to the rest of a companies network it is possible that the safety system is vulnerable to outside.

As you are looking at safety instrumented systems I suggest you get any such system checked out by a TUV FSEng. www.tuvasi.com look for the list of certified engineers.