China's enormous investments in manufacturing and energy infrastructure over the past 20 years have taught its engineers some important lessons.
Even as the construction of refineries, smelters, power plants and petrochemical facilities continues at a world-leading pace, a new focus on resources and the environment has begun to shape the country's manufacturing policies, according to keynote speaker Lin Rong, vice chief engineer for engineering firm Sinopec SEI, during his keynote address to the Fieldbus Foundation 2013 General Assembly in Shanghai in March.
Sinopec SEI's Lin Rong spoke on the project execution benefits of Foundation fieldbus technology during the 2013 Fieldbus Foundation General Assembly
The use of digital communication technologies such as Foundation fieldbus is an important contributor to new industrial facilities that are cleaner, safer and more efficient, Lin said. "Foundation technology has changed the future of industrial automation, including the design mode of control systems," Lin said.
Foundation fieldbus fits well with Sinopec's philosophy of developing and deploying increasingly intelligent digital factories, Lin continued. He recognized Foundation fieldbus for its ability to save on installation materials while streamlining construction and commissioning efforts; to support highly accurate and reliable operations; to enable functional decentralization (control-in-the-field); and to enable advanced diagnostics and predictive maintenance with the overall result of decreased maintenance and lifecycle costs.
As evidence, Lin shared results of a recent Sinopec SEI study to determine the project cost impact of Foundation fieldbus on several petrochemical projects. The study compared traditional analog instrumentation approaches with Foundation fieldbus. Assuming an average of six devices per fieldbus segment, the company was able to shave 5% off the instrumentation and controls portion of the typical project — a number that he believes can be further improved by designing segments with more than six instruments, and by using domestically developed fieldbus cable in future projects.
But the big payoff for fieldbus occurs once the plant is up and running, Lin contended. At a 3.5-year-old installation at the Fujian Refining and Ethylene Project (FREP), current maintenance needs are only 30% of what a traditionally configured system would entail, Lin said.