The future potential of process control systems

Sept. 28, 2021
With developments such as Industry 4.0, digitization and the cloud, together with improvements in process control and communication technology, it is easier than ever for equipment manufacturers to offer remote assistance and monitoring.

Process controls can incorporate a range of functions, such as visualization and human machine interface (HMI) solutions, as well as programming tools and advanced software applications. HRS offers remote telemetry and control options for all applicable products and systems, using class-leading technology from Siemens and Allen-Bradley Products.

A combination of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and graphic terminals provide easy-to-use, reliable controls.

HRS also utilizes a suite of bespoke software to monitor and control key parameters. This data can easily be transferred to remote systems – either those belonging to the client or HRS itself, using either hardwired (ethernet) or secure wireless (4G/5G) communication technology.

Remote operation and monitoring provide a number of benefits, including the ability for clients to view and control equipment from a central point, something that is particularly beneficial for complex installations, or those that are spread across numerous buildings or sites. It also allows HRS staff to assist with operations such as commissioning, upgrading or running-in, and to provide ongoing technical support should this be required.

Looking to the future, digital process control technology is likely to become even more beneficial to processing industries. Control software can be constantly kept up to date, helping to keep systems operating at peak efficiency, but it is perhaps in the area of simulation that the greatest benefits could eventually be realized. 

Engineers and commentators increasingly refer to the concept of a "digital twin" – a virtual version of a physical system or piece of equipment that can be used to simulate any change to operation, from differences in product specification to adjusting physical settings such as valve diameter or tube length. When coupled with artificial intelligence (AI), such virtual systems can determine the optimum hygiene regimes, best energy efficiency and even the most productive time of day to run certain operations.

While our technology is not at this level yet, there is no doubt that, as an industry, we are getting closer. If such a future is to be realized, then information technology (IT) and operational engineering functions will need to become even closer, a trend that we are already seeing in many businesses. Industry 4.0 is a term that is often discussed, but not always fully appreciated. However, the last year has begun to show us what the near future will look like for process control.

Matt Hale is the international sales and marketing director, HRS Heat Exchangers.

About the Author

Matt Hale

Matt Hale is the International Sales & Marketing Director, HRS Heat Exchangers.

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