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Questions to ask when upgrading a Process Control System

As electric utilities consider replacing ageing power plant control systems, there are many strategic questions to be examined early in the planning process. This white paper offers insights and actual case study examples to assist with upgrades.

Automation system integrator MAVERICK Technologies has released a new white paper, “What You Need to Know Before Replacing Your Control System,” that 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 ageing 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 favouring any particular supplier’s system.

MAVERICK Technologies 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 MAVERICK’s 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.

Process Industry Informer

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