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Hazardex 2018 Conference - 2. Digitalisation changes everything

30 January 2018

Ian Curtis - Process Safety Systems Consultant, Siemens. 
Weds 10.15 – 10.55: Main conference room

Digitalisation changes everything - a bold statement ... but you don’t have to look too far to find examples of where digitalisation has proven to be disruptive.

Now digitalisation is being described as bringing about the next big industrial revolution (or Industry 4.0 as it is sometimes called) promising a quantum leap in terms of benefits to productivity, flexibility, quality.... but what of safety?  Surely digitalisation offers the scope for improvement in process safety?

The “digitalisation” topic is still somewhat fluid and fast moving and exactly what form it takes differs from one industry to another. Discrete manufacturing topics include collaboration between cyber physical systems; using the internet of things and the internet of services; digitalisation of the whole value chain to achieve increased flexibility and productivity. 

For the process industries the emphasis is slightly different so digitalisation for process involves the integrated engineering and integrated operation of process plants across the whole plant life-cycle but also incorporates topics such as digital twins and Big Data. 

Integrated engineering and operation offer scope for improving safety by reducing the scope for systematic errors throughout the lifecycle. The concept of the digital twin can significantly improve verification and validation along with training for operation and maintenance. A “digital twin” can be used to thoroughly test the automation layer including the SIS.

Simulation is nothing new but the ability to auto-generate the simulation from a common data model helps avoid mistakes.  Verification testing of the “digital twin” uses the same code as will eventually be running in the SIS.  Of course the validation of the safety system will still need to be done “in the real world” when the SIS is hooked up to the physical equipment but effective verification and validation during pre-FAT can help reduce the time taken at FAT and SAT.

Increased digitalisation also facilitates ease of data collection and improves the ability to consolidate data across disparate systems into the Cloud to help avoid silos of data. Big Data has the potential to contribute to process safety in a number of areas:-
•  Plant reliability and Asset Integrity
•  Steady State Process Control
•  Process Optimisation
•  Accident Investigation
•  Collating leading indicators for process safety
•  Use of data from maintenance systems and incidents to promote process safety.

This paper seeks to give an overview of digitalisation in a process industry context focussing on the potential benefits for safety.

Ian Curtis has more than 25 years of professional experience working for control, automation and instrumentation vendors. For the last twelve years he has been specifically focussed on safety instrumented systems in the process sector.

His current role involves international responsibility for the development of  process related functional safety business for Siemens to which he  brings knowledge and experience of the market, products, systems and standards employed.

Ian is a TÜV certified Functional Safety Engineer and a Siemens Functional Safety Professional.

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