Industrial Technology Systems Ltd (ITS) has been offering simulation solutions to simulate process control system field I/O operations for over 22 years. A number of tools have been used during this time including PICS Pro and Siemens SIMIT.
These are highly intuitive plant simulation packages used by ITS to accurately test and debug plant control (PLC), SCADA and DCS systems through all stages of the project lifecycle, and can allow development and testing of changes and improved training of your operators in an offline environment.
Simulation systems are configured to replace the field I/O and act as the field devices would operate, meaning there is no simulation software within the PLC or DCS and the control system operates as if it were connected to the actual plant or process. These systems are used not just to test the positive path testing but also the negative path tests such as valve failed to operate, pump failed to start to ensure correct software operation in the event of failure of a field device.
We simulate digital and analogue plant I/O and group them into device objects such as valves or reactor vessels. This therefore replaces traditional hardwired switch boxes and lights, and their associated time-consuming and costly wiring and testing, with meaningful dynamic PC based displays. Testing with a software-based simulation system allows control system (PLC / SCADA / DCS) testing without a process expert to ensure the correct software operation is delivered in line with the agreed control system design documentation.
Testing with a dynamic simulation model drastically reduces the time required for site acceptance testing and commissioning activities. It minimises downtime during installation and can save hours and even days of time, depending on the size of the system. Simulation software allows system changes or replacements to be implemented within smaller shutdown periods, safe in the knowledge that the modification or replacement has been extensively tested including the ability to test complex plant failure modes and allow proving of rollback processes to be validated.
Logger functions allow logging performance and operation of the simulation in use. ITS’ team has implemented systems allowing the control system to run over 24 hour periods, and to set up scheduled simulated plant faults to test the operation of the control system software. Loggers allow the data retrieved to be evaluated to confirm satisfactory operation of the control system when the faults were injected. This additional software bench testing can be performed even when engineers are not in attendance such as overnight or weekend, allowing further software soak testing and validation.
Simulation models can be employed at the heart of an operator training system providing a safe, risk-free environment for operators to learn best practice in using the plant, and to experience abnormal situation management ensuring that your operators are therefore certified as Suitably Qualified and Experienced Operators. Good operator training and periodic refresher training leads to improvements in product quality and reductions in waste and cost and safe plant operation by being able to test operator responses to simulated fault conditions. Simulation systems can also be used for onboarding new staff into your operational environment, ensuring they are conversant with plant operations before actually using the real plant, thereby minimising risk to operations and plant effectiveness.
ITS recognises the importance of testing to ensure that our customers are completely satisfied with the system installed, and that they meet the strict industry guidelines. Simulation software benefits both solution providers and customers. It reduces the cost of installation and allows the engineering team to test thoroughly before a system is installed.
Simulation systems has also played a significant role in ITS’ work in highly regulated industries, such as airports, chemical, energy, nuclear and pharmaceutical. The rise in regulatory bodies and standards has led to the need for more rigorous testing regimes and greater accuracy in system installations. After investing in their first PICS simulation package in 1998, ITS engineers have been able to keep abreast of these regulatory issues and, at the same time, experience the immediate benefits. Today, the majority of systems implemented by ITS use the PICS / SIMIT package, so customers can be confident that the systems will be extensively tested and therefore implemented effectively with minimal disruption to their process.
If you are interested in benefiting from simulation software and services from ITS, please contact us.