Fully integrated Cause & effect in engineering base's plant solution

Editor: Anke Geipel-Kern

Anyone designing, building, operating or further developing plants today must at the same time depict state-of-the-art process technology, anticipate the paths of digitisation, take into account accelerated innovation cycles and be meaningful to all disciplines involved at all times. The advantages of the universal data model of Aucotec's cooperative engineering platform EB 2019 become clear in demanding engineering phases such as FEED or during the cause-and-effect check.

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Cause-and-Effect-Check: no transmission errors, consistent data at any time
Cause-and-Effect-Check: no transmission errors, consistent data at any time
(Bild: Aucotec)

Prior to the initial start-up of operations, plants are thoroughly tested during the commissioning phase. The engineers not only want to know whether a plant will work as intended during the ongoing operation. They also check how it would respond in start or clean mode, during an emergency shutdown and in all other conceivable situations. This is based on cause & effect links, also known as the safety matrix, from which, for example, it can be deduced whether a valve remains closed at 80 % fill level because this is intended, or because the wiring may be faulty.

Lots of searching and manual work

In order to create these tables separately for each operation mode, it is necessary to trawl through logic diagrams, P&IDs, and other documentation from the engineering disciplines involved, and thus often from different CAE tools. The information from them was previously summarized manually by the experts in the cause & effect table, which they went through point by point. An "effect" in one discipline, for example, can be the cause of an effect in another area at the same time. However, the engineers usually do not see the logic definitions of other disciplines. If wiring is incorrect, the documentation of the areas involved must be edited and coordinated and the cause & effect check starts again.

Tying up highly qualified personnel for long periods

Since the tables are very extensive — often with 200 or more rows and columns each and up to 20 operating modes in total — they are laborious and time-consuming to create. This ties up highly qualified engineers with very good plant knowledge for several weeks. There is an even bigger challenge: reliability. Since this table is the only document that enables the experts to check that the definitions for the complex functionality of a plant are correct, the data contained therein must be 100 % correct. A faulty initial start-up costs a lot of money as well as time.

New dimension of efficiency

In this context, Aucotecs's database-driven platform Engineering Base (EB) can ensure a new dimension of efficiency with the automated creation of cause & effect (C&E) links. Its consistency for the C&E process is unique. EB supports and documents the entire plant design process in a cooperative and cross-disciplinary manner.

The Cause & Effect module is only one area that the platform maps in addition to FEED, process design, instrumentation & control, electrical engineering, and automation support in a single system. All disciplines benefit directly and largely automatically from the data that was already processed by the other disciplines. In addition, EB can support the entire service life of the plant with clear and consistent maintenance support and execution management , highly efficient predictive maintenance optimization, and much more. This makes the system both the "enabler" and the keeper of the digital plant twin.

Always consistent

The cause & effect experts also benefit from this plant twin. With their definitions, they can be sure that they are viewing the up-to-date status of the plant documentation, even if it was created by globally distributed teams. Due to EB's central data model, changes in the P&ID, for example, immediately affect any further representation of the changed object – without error-prone data transfers and time-consuming discussions, possibly in relation to detail engineering or automation. The MCAD can also be easily and bidirectionally connected. This means that the logic of the C&E conditions that each engineer defines in his area is also comprehensible to neighbouring disciplines because everyone works with the same database.

Anything but usual: C&E at the press of a button

The conditions can be defined as usual with EB. Then nothing is as usual. This is because the printing of logic diagrams and P&IDs and the very complex merging of information from different fields is performed by Engineering Base. According to the C&E definitions of the respective disciplines, the platform creates a C&E table for each desired operating mode, to which the commissioning experts can add details, such as the time period until the alarm is triggered. If there are discrepancies in the check, a change is made at the relevant point, for example, the wiring in the cabinet. All engineers involved see that something has changed, adjust their C&E definitions if necessary, and can simply generate a new table at the press of a button, without discussions and transmission errors!

Quicker, better, safer

The unique consistency of EB enables C&E processes to be significantly automated and thus shortened. The continuity also ensures the exceptional consistency and thus quality of the tables.

Highly qualified engineers have much more time for other tasks, and their expertise is no longer tied to creating complex C&E tables. They are on the safe side as far as data quality is concerned, and avoid lengthy searches and discussions.

EB's database-driven nature enables the achievement of holistic efficiency, which no other system on the market can offer and which also increases for the C&E process with each sub-discipline integrated into the plant design process.

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This article was first published by PROCESS Worldwide.