Automated Device Commissioning with Intelligent Commissioning Wizard
Manoj Chandrasekharan
Offer Director for Asset Management
Schneider Electric - Process Automation BU

The new Intelligent Commissioning Wizard from Schneider Electric enables device commissioning in a single step by completely automating detection, configuration, commissioning and testing of HART field instrumentation connected to a Foxboro DCS. This articlediscusses limitations of the traditional methodology of configuration and commissioning of field devices and technologies that minimizes the duration of the process and minimizes error, which in turn reduces the risk of delays, improving business performance.

Manufacturers face ever-increasing demand to speed up execution of megaprojects and shorten the period of plant shutdown, getting back into production as quickly as possible, so as to maximize operating efficiency in a fragile and rapidly changing economy. Larger projects mean larger & more complex automation systems configuration, commissioning of which constitute one of last but critical tasks performed before plant startup. Current practice for configuration and commissioning of automation systems including field devices is not only tedious and timeconsuming but also error prone. End users are now searching for new technologies and processes to eliminate, simplify and/ or automate steps in overall commissioning to minimizing cost, complexity & risk to the project. It is critical to the success of the project to implement solutions that save time, reduce risk and increase accuracy.

The new Intelligent Commissioning Wizard from Schneider Electric enables device commissioning in a single step by completely automating detection, configuratio , commissioning and testing of HART field instrumentation connected to a Foxboro DCS.

Limitations with Traditional Methodology of Configuration and Commissioning

Over the years, process automation projects are becoming increasingly complex and technologically demanding especially in large asset intensive industries - like mining, oil and gas, energy, utilities etc. The duration of project execution and risk of these megaprojects is becoming critical to the profitability of these companies. If executed successfully, these projects enhance shareholders' value; poor execution can potentially impact the companies' performance, significantly putting the organization's profitability and shareholders' value at risk. Recently, Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy, technology, and engineering consulting firm with more than 100 years history did a survey with leaders from 20 companies—including supermajors, independents, and EPC firms, as well as some heavy industry companies from the United States, Europe, and Asia. More than half of the executives surveyed were dissatisfied with their companies' overall project execution performance, citing high cost and schedule overruns that plague 40 per cent of their projects.

A 2014 report by EY (formerly ERNST & YOUNG) one top 4 professional business consulting & management consulting firms reveals that almost two thirds (64%) of multibillion-dollar megaprojects continue to exceed budgets, with three quarters (73%) missing project schedule deadlines.

As process industry projects becomes larger and larger, the resulting complexity of the automation systems also increase exponentially. Plant automation systems and field devices are not only fundamental building block of any asset intensive plant, but also represents significant capital and operational cost. Commissioning and configuration of field instruments and valves are the final but critical tasks on the critical path to plant start-up and the impact on overall project schedule and performance is significant.

While field instrumentation technology has made significant advances, device configuration and commissioning has remained largely manual and this does not help with the increase in the amount of data and parameters that field devices measures. Some of constrains associated with traditional method of device commissioning includes:
  • Manpower Intensive:Traditional commissioning and configuration methodologies are cumbersome, time consuming and labor Intensive. The time required to configure and commission can range from as little as 15 minutes for low-complexity devices like pressure transmitters to more than 50 minutes for more complex assets like flow meters etc. Testing and report generation adds even more hours to the process

  • Error Prone:The risk of user error during manual commissioning and configuration is huge. It is easy to make typing errors during manual entry of device data and setting of operational parameters. The technician may miss configuring a new device in the network or forgot to put the device back into operation after service

  • Expertise Dependence: Safe and reliable operation of control system is dependent on the field instruments and valves. This highly relies on the expertise of the technicians assigned.

Taking into consideration constraints associated with traditional methods of configuring and commissioning of instruments and valves, business owners are looking for ways to simplify and/or automate the activity.

In recent times, manufacturers are gravitating towards working with their instrument vendors to pre-configure devices before it is delivered to site. But the premise that faster commissioning can be achieved by "finetuning" the traditional approach is a fallacy and will only result in marginal improvements. The industry must make a paradigm shift by eliminating manual configuration, commissioning and testing altogether. The entire device commissioning process starting from device detection to configuration to commissioning, loop testing and reporting needs to be completely automated.

Intelligent Commissioning Wizard - A Paradigm Shift in Hart Device Commissioning

The new Intelligent Commissioning Wizard embedded in the EcoStruxure Field Device Expert is a technology-enabled approach to commissioning of HART field instrumentation of any make and version connected to the EcoStruxure Foxboro DC . It enables commissioning of HART Devices in a single step by completely automating detection, configuration, commissioning, and testing. The Intelligent Commissioning Wizard even creates commissioning reports upon completion which further shortens the duration of the commissioning process.

Two Use Cases Depening Upon Type Of Marshalling Cabinet

Intelligent Commission Wizard supports both Traditional & intelligent marshalling approach

With Traditional Marshalling Cabinets

Testing and report creation represent significant time & cost in the project scope. Intelligent Commissioning Wizard when used with traditional marshalling cabinets automates much of the testing & reporting to reduce both SAT (Site Acceptance Test) and commissioning duration. Intelligent Commissioning Wizard has the capability to verify the I/O card type and card channel assigned during the engineering phase vs what is built into system cabinets, cross wiring in the marshalling cabinets, field cables and field junction boxes. A Verification Report is automatically generated upon completion.

With Intelligent Marshalling Cabinets

Schneider Electric's Intelligent Field I/O Cabinets (Pre-fabricated marshalling cabinets with Intelligent I/Os) for both Process and Safety, together with Intelligent Commission Wizard and Schneider Electric's FLEX (Flexible, Lean EXecution) project execution methodology has dramatically changed the way automation projects are executed.

System Configuration at the Project Office

As soon as the initial P & ID designs are available, the project team located anywhere in the world can start building control loops without I/O assignments and without configuring HART devices in the system until the hardware is delivered to site. The Intelligent Commission Wizard enables late binding where I/O references are not defined until the field devices are installed and commissioned on site. This decouples hardware and software design freeze, reduces risk and provides greater flexibility in the project, taking automation off the critical path.

Optimized Site Activities

While the system configuration is being done at the project office, the field team can start field cable installation & termination simultaneously

Automated Device commissioning using Intelligent Commissioning Wizar

Once the HART devices are connected to the Intelligent Enclosures, the Intelligent Commissioning Wizard can then be activated to perform the following actions with a single click.
  • Automatic Binding of HART Devices
  • Automatic Configuration of HART Devices
  • Automatic Loop Test
  • Automatic Report creation
Commissioning and configuration of new devices have long been a time consuming, tedious, task when conducted manually. While configuration, commissioning, testing of low-complexity devices might take as little as 15 minutes, the mor -complex assets can take more than an hour or more. Testing and reporting further add to the duration of the task.
  • Automatic Binding and Configuration of HART devices Based on test done using automatic binding and configuration of HART devices, commissioning schedule has been demonstrated to be reduced by more than 70%majority of instrumentation like transmitters

  • Automatic Loop Tests Loop Tests has traditionally been done using two technicians; one in the field to simulate an analog value at the transmitter and the other at the automation system to check the corresponding value displayed in graphics and faceplates. Automatic Loop Tests completely automates the process and reduces the manpower requirement to one instead of two.

  • Automatic Report Generation Them automated process delivers more than 70% savings in time and effort per device, and at the same time reduces errors and minimizes the risk of schedule overrun. Applying these savings across hundreds and thousands of devices required to get a new facility or an expansion up and running, the choice is apparen .