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MAY-JUN 2018

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30 INTECH MAY/JUNE 2018 WWW.ISA.ORG SYSTEM INTEGRATION associated mitigation plans before issues surface. l Technologies and processes can minimize the impact of late delivery of design inputs. For example, auto- generating documentation based on the I/O database can quickly create and update key deliverables. l A vigorous quality assurance program can help mitigate the subjective na- ture of automation requirements. l Flexible system architectures, like configurable I/O modules, can help to minimize the impact of late chang - es on testing and documentation. l Appointing an interface manager to the project team can reduce the risk resulting from multiple dependencies on other stakehold- ers. This is a position dedicated to facilitating in formation flow from the various disciplines and equip- ment suppliers. l Disciplined testing and commission- ing procedures executed by qualified resources are critical for safe and efficient startup. Shortcuts here in- evitably lead to ongoing operational problems, costing many times the minimal savings from reduced com- missioning time. Process automation projects are difficult to manage. The inherent complexity, evolving scope, schedule constraints, and human interaction all contribute unique challenges. Uti- lizing a project manager and a team with experience managing these char- acteristics and the ability to maintain proper execution discipline are critical to achieving success. n ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lee Swindler (lee.swindler@mavtechglob - al.com) is a program manager at MAVER - ICK Technologies. He has 30 years of au- tomation industry experience, including 21 years in manufacturing and nine years on the engineering services side. He has a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and is a TÜV Certified Func- tional Safety Engineer (FSEng). Swindler has a BSEE from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. View the online version at www.isa.org/intech/20180604. configuration. Robust change manage- ment procedures are needed, includ- ing an approval process to ensure each change is justified. There is also a creative element to contend with. Modern automation sys- tems allow significant flexibility in how various functions are programmed in both controller configuration and the HMI. Although this flexibility enables the automation system to be custom- ized to optimally control the process, it also makes requirements difficult to completely define and enforce. The road to success How can you mitigate these numer- ous challenges inherent in automa- tion projects? Respecting what makes them unique is a good start. Engaging an automation service provider with experience and expertise to handle the challenges is essential. Beyond these basics, here are some additional suggestions: l Early engagement of automation engineering in the front-end load - ing (FEL)/front-end engineering design (FEED) stages results in clearer definition of the project scope and decreases the risk of re - work in detailed design. l Reduce customization of the design by using standard configuration, graphic, and documentation tem- plates to decrease the amount of work required to execute the auto- mation scope. l Apply robust project management discipline, like you should on any large, complex project. A detailed project execution plan, schedule, and quality plan are all important for effective execution. A well- de veloped roles-and-responsibil- ities matrix helps to define exactly what information is expected from each stakeholder. A risk register can identify potential problems and The human element The automation system is the primary interface between the collection of equipment that makes up a plant and the operator who is trying to run it. To achieve successful operation, it is criti- cal for operators to get an accurate and complete view of how the process is behaving and how the equipment is working. If the automation system is contributing to process upsets or not clearly communicating an accurate picture of unit operation, the ongoing lost opportunity costs can be massive. Although there has been excel- lent human-factors science applied to this human-machine interface (HMI) in re cent years, there is still a large amount of personal preference that must be accounted for. Because the automation system is such a tan - gible element with a look and feel that anyone can understand, it seems ev - eryone has an opinion about how it should work. Operators have inherent perspectives and biases based on past experience with other automation sys- tems, but they may not all be applicable in the current scenario. These personal preferences are difficult to completely define but need to be accommodated or corrected to make the interface fully effective and achieve operator buy-in. Changing an automation system is easy—simply a matter of program- ming. However, this ease of change makes it difficult to manage, because it encourages ongoing tinkering with the To achieve successful operation, it is critical for operators to get an accurate and complete view of how the process is behaving and how the equipment is working.

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