Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What You Need to Know Before Replacing Your Control System!

A white paper, “What You Need to Know Before Replacing Your Control System,” has been published by Maverick Technologies. It describes a situation facing many electric utility companies: the advancing age of a distributed control system (DCS) at a generating plant. As control systems get older, many of those plants face increasing risks of system failures and declining availability of replacement parts. Owners have to explore how to replace that aging equipment with more contemporary offerings.

The white paper helps plant operators consider the right questions as they look at new offerings within the context of the specific needs of generating facilities. Power plants have many types of systems and equipment not found in other process industry environments, so those projects have to be approached in a way that addresses those unique needs. Author Matt Sigmon considers options in a way not favoring any particular supplier’s system.

Maverick has successfully completed program upgrades using a wide variety of platforms, so this discussion applies regardless of the vendor direction chosen, or if no vendor has been selected yet. Sigmon draws on his experience working with customers as part of their DCS Next program which has been used to upgrade control systems in hundreds of plants.

In addition to discussion of control system strategy, there is a sidebar on approaches for building in cyber security protections with any upgrade. This is particularly important for electric utilities since they fall under the NERC-CIP regulations. Two actual case studies round out the white paper, discussing upgrade projects at a gas-fired cogeneration plant in California, and at a municipal utility in Louisiana using conventional steam boiler and turbine technology.

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