A central control room is the dream of any intensive operation: The desire to have in a single location, several remote operations and the ability to take business decisions.
But how to have a pragmatic and simple approach for a control room, avoiding an overload of data and a flood of monitors delivering too much information? – The main idea of this blog, is to point out 5 critical software’s and their potential role in a central control room:
Business operations manager
I see the business operation application as the central backbone of the control room. Such software is responsible to gather data from other software’s, aggregate the data in a proper and concise way and deliver production insights: Plant performance (KPIs), OEE, material tracking, quality control, mass balance, energy management under production context.
Image systems/ video analytics
Video analytics bring intelligence to a myriad of video cameras installed on the field and at different locations. Basically, the software analyses alerts the system of any abnormal scenario if against pre-determined thresholds (flow of people and assets) – Let’s remember that a central control room may have dozens of monitors monitoring thousands of cameras scattered in several locations.
Sustainability portal / The energy manager
The sustainability portal is the energy / environmental manager “news aggregator”: This application mixes external information with sustainability performance indicators against established targets. Also it is possible to track the major energy and sustainability projects in each one of the company operations. Also from the portal it is possible get online information from the internet: from commodities prices to raw material market behavior.
Plant supervision and control
Here is the core of the field plant control. The supervision system basically allows plant monitoring and control for any unit operation from different operations. From material handling to grinding. From a Blast furnace to a crane control – Advanced supervision systems allows the management of multiple plants thanks to distributed processing and multiple redundancy.
Weather information allows plant operations to get real time data and forecast severe weather conditions, protecting the people / operations and allowing action plans facing severe weather conditions.
[Figure 6 – Advanced weather tools]
And…..if we combine some of these tools?
Each one of these applications can be used standalone to deliver some important insights for operations.
However the beauty of the control room is the ability to be modular and scalable (not necessarily having all these software in a single shot) and combine information from some of these disciplines to deliver even more brainpower – Any open software tool is based in open standards (some of them called web services), this allow dissimilar applications exchange information among them. Of course, the secret of merging different data from different sources is to deliver a useful result – for example:
- Combining weather systems with business operations software allowing a better operation planning due to weather conditions
- Video analytics could be combined with supervision systems. For example stopping a process machine if the camera identifies a physical risk to the system or personnel
- Sustainability portal can be combined with business operations and supervision systems and deliver energy management information and emissions from different sites and unit operations
- Video analytics can be combined with weather tools and deliver alarms if assets are left unattended during a storm or personnel is working in a critical area during potential and incoming lightning events.
In a summary…… combining the right software disciplines is literally limited to people’s imagination and its potential is virtually limitless.
Some of these tools in combination can even deliver a comprehensive and complete water management for plant operations….but……. this will be a subject from a future blog…..stay tuned ………………….