Never Touch a Running System

If a process plant is designed to operate in the long term, it is pivotal to take modernization measures with a secure future in mind. In this situation, it is good to have a CAE system that can grow with the plant over the years

  • Never Touch a Running System
    Never Touch a Running System
  • Never Touch a Running System
    Never Touch a Running System

Modern process plants can only be really effectively operated if the data from the engineering phase are also available for operation, maintenance and modernization. Then the documentation reliably matches as-built plant reality at all times. This avoids costly new entries and the unnecessary use of engineering resources in operation or during modernization. It also increases plant availability.

For more than 25 years now, Rösberg Engineering has been offering ProDOK, a high-performance I&C-CAE system that ensures an integrated planning process with unified rules. Now ProDOK NG, the Next Generation of this tried and trusted system, combines the experience of decades with state-of-the-art software technology. This can benefit new users and “old hands” alike. A DCS migration which was planned anyway – or other modernization measures – are a good point in time to adopt a CAE system or update an existing one.

Historical growth

A process plant had been in operation for about 20 years (Fig. 1). It was originally engineered using ProDOK. All the changes that took place during the operative years had also been documented with ProDOK, so that the current documentation always reflected the actual state of the plant. Last year, extensive modernization was planned. Thus for instance it was projected to centralize the separate control stations of individual plant components and combine the corresponding databases (Fig. 2). Altogether, more than ten thousand loops were affected by this measure.

In this project, too, the plant owner worked closely with the automation specialists from Karlsruhe. Based on many years’ positive experience with previous migration projects, and thanks to careful preparation, the planning and coordination of the extensive modernization project were completed within a few weeks, and had virtually no effect on the continuity of production. The actual switch to the new DCS system then took only a few days. This time was used to train personnel. After a short downtime, operations started up again with the modernized system.

Exploiting new possibilities

The opportunity was also taken to update the CAE system to state-of-the-art – of course taking over all existing data. The plant operator is now able to make use of many new possibilities, for instance in visualization, modularization, integration into various system environments, databases and cloud applications.

An important prerequisite for the use of various databases is provided by the Microsoft Entity Framework as an O/R Mapper. It supports Microsoft SQL server and Oracle, but can also be adapted to other SQL databases. Other advantages are provided by the Microsoft.NET Framework 4.5 and a user interface based on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), which enables the separation of function and design, and ensures an ideal, individually adaptable display at any resolution, thanks to vector graphics. ProDOK NG is also cloud compatible. This means it can be worked on at several locations all over the world, and project data can be used cross-locationally. Thus plant owners are well prepared for the future, especially since further modules are always being developed.

Practical module: fast generating of P&IDs 

At present, these include a module for generating P&IDs (piping and instrumentation diagrams) and another for electrical engineering in process plants. The P&ID module simplifies the project planning, documentation and administration of process-related elements in piping and instrumentation diagrams (Fig. 3). The engineering data are available online, thus ensuring consistency and integration over the whole life cycle of the plant. This means that data are always current, no additional drawing is required and nothing needs to be converted. Quality and reliability of the planning are enhanced, because one single system is used for process technology and I&C.

The diagram editor is automatically updated when data are changed. Many other helpful features simplify tasks, including functions for mass data processing, comfortable query options, exports into various data formats, indefinitely extendable symbol libraries, and fast options for changes and additions to master data.

Electrical engineering and I&C planning speak the same language

The market offers powerful tools for electrotechnical planning. However, they are not tailored to the planning of process-related projects. Users have to maintain the whole system, even if they are only making use of a small percentage of its possibilities. Here the ProDOK Electrical Engineering module is a practical alternative, because when it is used, electrical engineering and I&C speak the same language; unified plans can be drawn up, there are no breaks between systems – and the number of systems the user has to deal with overall is reduced.  This saves a great deal of time and money compared to using a separate solution.

The Electrical Engineering module provides everything that is needed for the efficient planning, documentation and administration of electrotechnical elements in process engineering, starting with the planning of the infrastructure and the wiring plan, through data processing and filtering, to analysis, data export and documentation, including color coding of changes. Here, too, revision-proof data import ensures that planning data from other systems are taken over smoothly. Discrepancies can also be visualized in color. And thanks to the complete integration of both systems, the generation and maintenance of documentation requires less time and effort. This is equally advantageous for plant operators and plant engineers.

Author: Dipl.-Ing. (BA) Martin Dubovy, Head of Plant Solutions Product Management at Rösberg Engineering GmbH