An upcoming feature article in January, "Changing Workforce Drives Control Room Modernization," describes how the future control room has arrived and is changing the process industries. A new workforce, plant modernization and the adoption of wireless are big drivers as these control rooms evolve and expand into multiple industries within process automation.
However, an emerging tool for control room operators not documented in the January feature article is the use of advanced process control (APC) software in the oil and gas and chemical industries. Below are excerpts from an interview with Aspen Technology's Elinor Price, dir. of marketing, on how APC tools could become more useful for control room operators in the very near future.
• We have customers, especially in the refining and chemical space, that are looking at leveraging more software for operators to give them better feedback in an area like advanced process control.
• Using APC software, we can now take those original plant models and provide access to control room operators. For example, operators can now say that these are the current operating conditions, but we need the tower output to be at this level. So, let's run an offline model and compare it to the real-time conditions and see what insights we can gather. This is just starting to happen where we can take those offl-line models built by really smart process engineers and provide them to operators so greater process efficiencies can be possible.
• The key thing is to built software in a way that it is intuitive and easy to use. The user interface has to be modern with young engineering students coming into the process industries. The younger workforce has grown up in the technology age andexpect a certain look and feel.