What will the industry be like with the use of Distributed Control Systems (DCS)?

In today’s industry we have a series of assets, which are part of different production process, present in large complex industries such as those existing in mining-metallurgical, petrochemical, energy, food, pharmaceutical, and other industries. Which need a continuous control system of the process conditions that collects the information from these components, the same that are connected through communication networks to be later stored, processed and displayed by different softwares to be delivered for their interpretation to plant engineers, operators and other interested parties.

Currently, there is still a discussion between the advantages of DCS systems and traditional PLCs and HMI / SCADA. In this article we will not delve into the subject, we will only say that both control groups do their job; But we will mention the great advantage that industries will always value when choosing between one system and another, and that is to save and dramatically reduce the time of implementation and maintenance of assets. A favorable point offered by the Distributed Control System (DCS), thanks to the fact that many of its activities are carried out automatically.

Breaking paradigms, Functional and profitable like a PLC.

These DCS systems are not something new, on the contrary, their implementation in the industrial sector dates back to the 1970s, initially it had a response capacity to control around 5,000 signals from different process, currently these systems control around 250,000 Signals, DCS was initially considered a costly implementation, thus leading to increased use of PLCs and HMI / SCADA for process control. Currently, the cost benefit of its implementation has changed the rules of the game, making the DCS implementation entail a quite attractive return benefit.

Until today, it has been thought that the functionality of a DCS is relegated to control loops, while PLCs and HMI / SCADA are oriented to discrete and sequential process, and that is why it is not possible to carry out a fair comparison. This is a paradigm that currently does not take place, a DCS is as functional and profitable as a PLC to perform discrete and sequential logic.

In the Age of Industry 4.0

In this medium we have already talked about the technologies that will have a greater role in this decade, the same ones that correspond to being part of the 4.0 industry, if you have not read it yet, you can follow this link to remember it. The DCS is no stranger to the advantages that this technological revolution brings us in the industries, one of its novelties being the use of software for the storage of information based on the cloud, the application of IoT (Internet of Things) to manage control of more assets and virtualization, which will, in many cases, eliminate the presence of hardware. Virtualization may still sound like a utopian environment; in which it seeks to decouple the control software from the physical platform where multiple controllers form a single and virtual controller.

Make up a single, virtual controller. In what little we see, there are a number of advantages that, thanks to the introduction of new technologies, will seek and guarantee that they become standardized, making the costs of implementing DCS and HMI / SCADA PLCs more attractive to different sectors that will go from medium to large industries in the coming years, improving their profit and productivity, as a result of the evolution of these technologies. At PIPER we will follow this evolutionary process more closely for the future.