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Standardising on a Profibus communications solution

17 December 2013

Agribusiness company, Syngenta has implemeted a policy of system standardisation and protect current process control investment decisions at its Huddersfield manufacturing centre.

Working in collaboration with Siemens Industry, the company has installed Intrinsically Safe Active Field Distributors (AFDiS) as the preferred communication platform to support the policy, which is to solely invest in Profibus-based instrumentation for any newly introduced equipment. 

Designed for use in hazardous areas, the AFDiS product was identified as the best solution for a number of reasons, including: enhancing safety considerations associated with working within potentially hazardous process areas; supporting the Profibus platform in place at the site; improving diagnostic reporting capability and driving overall operational efficiencies.  The site’s automation team can now easily and cost-effectively add new instrumentation to its critical process system as and when required, and benefit from access to enhanced levels of production system data to help with continuous improvement programme objectives.

Mick Pearson, automation manager at the site, said: “We have a set policy to only invest in intelligent Profibus instrumentation for newly introduced equipment and all new projects will purchase Profibus instrumentation if possible.  The nature of our business means we have a number of hazardous areas and, with all equipment installed having to have a Unit Verification and Certification provided by an external company, we were mindful of the potential extra cost of such work if we had to engage a company to undertake panel design, construction and documentation. When compared to the unit cost, design size, documentation and availability of the alternative off-the-shelf solution, the Siemens AFDiS – which is certified by TUV-SUD – helped to  integrate new instrumentation with the site standard Siemens’ PCS7 process control system installed over recent years.”
 
Commenting on the benefits of the solution, Ian Charlson from Siemens Industry said: “The AFDiS solution is capable of being installed directly into an ATEX-rated hazardous area, without the need for additional enclosures.  The device also provides the option for redundant communications providing a higher level of plant availability and increased flexibility if the requirements of the process plant change or alter in the future. 

 “In addition, using the AFDiS solution, used as part of the site standard Profibus-based infrastructure, provides Syngenta with additional diagnostic information to allow, for example, for important predictive maintenance scheduling to be carried out and alleviate potential issues further down the line.  This will only enhance plant availability and operational efficiencies at what is an extremely busy production site.”

The decision to specify the solution was a departure from the previously used industry standard 4-20mA infrastructure for the connection of instrumentation to facilitate the retrieval of basic process information.  In this case, Siemens’ IM link modules, DP/PA couplers and AFDiS modules have been used instead of traditional wiring. AFDiS is said to offer reductions in the time and cost involved to replace or add a new instrument to the system and provides access to intelligent operating and process data and information to inform and assist management decision-making.

Ian Charlson explains what AFDiS has offered Syngenta: “The new solution provides the opportunity to reduce the amount of time and expenditure it takes for the company to replace or add new instrumentation to the overall process system on site. This is purely down to the AFDiS and the connection and removal technology central to its design.  As a distributed solution it means that a reduced number of cables are required for the installation and operation of the device in question.  Critically, there is now a standard solution for the connection of new instrumentation within the challenging ATEX-rated areas at Syngenta’s site.”
Mick Pearson sums up his feelings about the project: “AFDiS has made the practical achievement of such changes far more straightforward and cost effective.   Additional bonuses, such as the diagnostics intelligence we can gather and the reduced complexity involved with new system installation, are also very important and beneficial.  A good example is the fact the site wishes to derive and store as much information as possible for potential future analysis and troubleshooting.  The additional diagnostic information we can now access will be used to inform our operational excellence programme going forward.”


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