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Devices help plant personnel identify and resolve problems

Saudi Aramco has talked up the advantages of using mini computers at its various facilities.

The Foundation fieldbus is a mini-computer that can gather data from sensors on a given device and help plant personnel quickly identify and resolve maintenance issues.

The fieldbus is a digital, two-way communications system used in a plant to monitor and control processes. Installed at plants built since 2002, fieldbus systems are used by operations and maintenance engineers to keep an eye on key assets and to predict failures and faults in detail before they can occur — and to correct them before they escalate.

Fieldbus systems occupy much less room (e.g., one-sixth of the area) compared to analog systems. This allows Saudi Aramco to build smaller rack rooms and provide more diagnostic data from field devices, thereby allowing an operations engineer, maintenance engineer, or technician to make critical decisions with real-time information.

When the fieldbus was first introduced at Saudi Aramco plants, engineers who were sent to the U.S. to participate in the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) to learn how to operate the new systems saw a need to develop a course in-house for other engineers.

“I could see that many of the people in the field were treating the new system like the old system,” said Hamad S. Balhareth, the engineer who developed the course. “It was like we had sold our old 1970s pickup truck, bought a brand new car but we still drove it like the old pickup.”

Balhareth developed the course and taught his first class in 2011.

Today more than 100 engineers have taken the course and brought on substantial changes, such as commissioning new control systems at Gas Oil Separation Plants and upgrading the diagnostics of older plants.

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Oil & Gas Staff
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Published Date: 
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 10:46
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