Process control systems make sure industrial processes are carried out efficiently, consistently and with as little variation as possible. They're installed in industrial settings to:
- help maintain throughput, quality, yield and energy efficiency
- make sure working practices are carried out safely and profitably
Systems measure, monitor and control manufacturing processes and activities. They identify and correct any abnormalities or variations from specified values, either manually or automatically. The aim is to make sure that production is consistent and that as little energy is wasted as possible.
Although process control technology has advanced rapidly since the mid 1980s, the latest systems still follow the traditional hierarchical or pyramid-like structure. The lowest level of the pyramid works to make sure a particular process doesn't vary by more than an allowed amount. It monitors the operation of each part of the process, identifies unwanted changes and initiates any necessary corrective actions.
Lower level controls can't handle complex situations like equipment faults. These have to be dealt with either manually, by an operator, or by other controls at a higher level of the hierarchy.
Further up the pyramid the system controls the overall production process and makes sure it continues to operate efficiently.
Benefits of an efficient process control system
Your business could benefit from a well-designed control system in many ways, including:
- energy savings - energy wastage is reduced when your plant and machinery are efficiently operated
- improved safety - control systems automatically warn you of any abnormalities which minimises the risk of accidents
- consistent product quality - variations in product quality are kept to a minimum and reduce your wastage
- lower manufacturing costs - detecting faults early means throughput, yield and quality are maintained
- improved environmental performance - systems can give you an early warning of a rise in emissions
Your business could achieve energy savings of up to 15 per cent with a well designed and properly maintained process control system.