PAS: Knowledge in Context

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 @ 05:05 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
Automation works, there is no doubt, but with growth sometimes comes growing pains which usually lead to another round of technology innovations.

“Productivity is increasing and incidents are decreasing and that is a good thing,” said Mark Carrigan, vice president of technology at PAS during his talk at the PAS Technology Conference 2014 in Houston. “Automation and information technology are two main reasons we can do more with less. We optimize the human-automation relationship. We simplify the complex and deliver actionable information in context and provide information to keep the plant running safely.”

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In terms of technology advances and keeping the plant running safely, a new technology PAS introduced earlier this year is its PowerGraphiX software that allows consistent HMIs and improved situational awareness in control rooms across the operating fleet. The tool allows for consistent graphical presentation for operators to view what is going on.

The problem had always been inconsistent HMI graphics that often led to confusion for operators.

“There had to be a better way to present information to operators,” said Harvey Ivey, manager I&C systems and field support at the Southern Company. “There were few standards in place. Each new project resulted in a control project being unique.”

It seems control rooms have come a complete circle from a visualization stand point.

“In the old days we could see the big picture (in the control room). But with digital technology, things changed and everything went on individual monitors,” Ivey said. The problem was there were so many monitors, it would almost be impossible to get a true representation of what was going on at a facility.

“PowerGraphiX allowed the big picture to come back,” Ivey said. “This makes graphics more intuitive for the operator. The benefits were consistency.”

In one case, Ivey said there were two different operating systems from two different suppliers running, which meant they had different graphical representations. When they initiated their PowerGraphiX program, they two different systems were running, but the graphics were the same, which made the operators’ life much easier.

“There was more science and less art. We gave the operators wheat they really need.”

That is one way a graphics program can eliminate a safety issue.

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