1

Distributed Control System(DCS)

A distributed control system (DCS) refers to a control system usually of a manufacturing system,[clarification needed] process or any kind of dynamic system, in which the controller elements are not central in location (like the brain) but are distributed throughout the system with each component sub-system controlled by one or more controllers.


DCS (Distributed Control System) is a computerized control system used to control the production line in the industry


The entire system of controllers is connected by networks for communication and monitoring.


DCS is a very broad term used in a variety of industries, to monitor and control distributed equipment.


Electrical power grids and electrical generation plants
Environmental control systems
Traffic signals
Radio signals
Water management systems
Oil refining plants
Metallurgical process plants
Chemical plants
Pharmaceutical manufacturing
Sensor networks
Dry cargo and bulk oil carrier ships

Elements

A DCS typically uses custom designed processors as controllers and uses both proprietary interconnections and communications protocol for communication. Input and output modules form component parts of the DCS. The processor receives information from input modules and sends information to output modules. The input modules receive information from input instruments in the process (or field) and transmit instructions to the output instruments in the field. Computer buses or electrical buses connect the processor and modules through multiplexer or demultiplexers. Buses also connect the distributed controllers with the central controller and finally to the Human–machine interface (HMI) or control consoles. See Process automation system.


The elements of a DCS may connect directly to physical equipment such as switches, pumps and valves and to Human Machine Interface (HMI) via SCADA. The differences between a DCS and SCADA is often subtle, especially with advances in technology allowing the functionality of each to overlap.
Applications

Distributed control systems (DCSs) are dedicated systems used to control manufacturing processes that are continuous or batch-oriented, such as oil refining, petrochemicals, central station power generation, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage manufacturing, cement production, steelmaking, and papermaking. DCSs are connected to sensors and actuators and use setpoint control to control the flow of material through the plant. The most common example is a setpoint control loop consisting of a pressure sensor, controller, and control valve. Pressure or flow measurements are transmitted to the controller, usually through the aid of a signal conditioning input/output (I/O) device. When the measured variable reaches a certain point, the controller instructs a valve or actuation device to open or close until the fluidic flow process reaches the desired setpoint. Large oil refineries have many thousands of I/O points and employ very large DCSs. Processes are not limited to fluidic flow through pipes, however, and can also include things like paper machines and their associated quality controls (see quality control system QCS), variable speed drives and motor control centers, cement kilns, mining operations, ore processing facilities, and many others.


A typical DCS consists of functionally and/or geographically distributed digital controllers capable of executing from 1 to 256 or more regulatory control loops in one control box. The input/output devices (I/O) can be integral with the controller or located remotely via a field network. Today’s controllers have extensive computational capabilities and, in addition to proportional, integral, and derivative (PID) control, can generally perform logic and sequential control. Modern DCSs also support neural networks and fuzzy application.


DCSs are usually designed with redundant processors to enhance the reliability of the control system. Most systems come with canned displays and configuration software which enables the end user to set up the control system without a lot of low level programming. This allows the user to better focus on the application rather than the equipment, although a lot of system knowledge and skill is still required to support the hardware and software as well as the applications. Many plants have dedicated groups that focus on this task. These groups are in many cases augmented by vendor support personnel and/or maintenance support contracts.


DCSs may employ one or more workstations and can be configured at the workstation or by an off-line personal computer. Local communication is handled by a control network with transmission over twisted pair, coaxial, or fiber optic cable. A server and/or applications processor may be included in the system for extra computational, data collection, and reporting capability.


History

Early minicomputers were used in the control of industrial processes since the beginning of the 1960s. The IBM 1800, for example, was an early computer that had input/output hardware to gather process signals in a plant for conversion from field contact levels (for digital points) and analog signals to the digital domain.


The first industrial control computer system was built 1959 at the Texaco Port Arthur, Texas, refinery with an RW-300 of the Ramo-Wooldridge Company[2]
The DCS was introduced in 1975. Both Honeywell and Japanese electrical engineering firm Yokogawa introduced their own independently produced DCSs at roughly the same time, with the TDC 2000 and CENTUM[3] systems, respectively. US-based Bristol also introduced their UCS 3000 universal controller in 1975. In 1978 Metso(known as Valmet in 1978) introduced their own DCS system called Damatic (latest generation named Metso DNA[4]). In 1980, Bailey (now part of ABB[5]) introduced the NETWORK 90 system, Fisher Controls (now part of Emerson Electric) introduced the PROVoX system, Fischer & Porter Company (now also part of ABB[6]) introduced DCI-4000 (DCI stands for Distributed Control Instrumentation).


The DCS largely came about due to the increased availability of microcomputers and the proliferation of microprocessors in the world of process control. Computers had already been applied to process automation for some time in the form of both direct digital control (DDC) and set point control. In the early 1970s Taylor Instrument Company, (now part of ABB) developed the 1010 system, Foxboro the FOX1 system, Fisher Controls the DC2 system and Bailey Controls the 1055 systems. All of these were DDC applications implemented within minicomputers (DEC PDP-11, Varian Data Machines, MODCOMP etc.) and connected to proprietary Input/Output hardware. Sophisticated (for the time) continuous as well as batch control was implemented in this way. A more conservative approach was set point control, where process computers supervised clusters of analog process controllers. A CRT-based workstation provided visibility into the process using text and crude character graphics. Availability of a fully functional graphical user interface was a way away.


Central to the DCS model was the inclusion of control function blocks. Function blocks evolved from early, more primitive DDC concepts of "Table Driven" software. One of the first embodiments of object-oriented software, function blocks were self-contained "blocks" of code that emulated analog hardware control components and performed tasks that were essential to process control, such as execution of PID algorithms. Function blocks continue to endure as the predominant method of control for DCS suppliers, and are supported by key technologies such as Foundation Fieldbus[7] today.
Midac Systems, of Sydney, Australia, developed an objected-oriented distributed direct digital control system in 1982. The central system ran 11 microprocessors sharing tasks and common memory and connected to a serial communication network of distributed controllers each running two Z80s. The system was installed at the University of Melbourne.[citation needed]


Digital communication between distributed controllers, workstations and other computing elements (peer to peer access) was one of the primary advantages of the DCS. Attention was duly focused on the networks, which provided the all-important lines of communication that, for process applications, had to incorporate specific functions such as determinism and redundancy. As a result, many suppliers embraced the IEEE 802.4 networking standard. This decision set the stage for the wave of migrations necessary when information technology moved into process automation and IEEE 802.3 rather than IEEE 802.4 prevailed as the control LAN plavix .


The Network Centric Era of the 1980s


In the 1980s, users began to look at DCSs as more than just basic process control. A very early example of a Direct Digital Control DCS was completed by the Australian business Midac in 1981–82 using R-Tec Australian designed hardware. The system installed at the University of Melbourne used a serial communications network, connecting campus buildings back to a control room "front end". Each remote unit ran 2 Z80 microprocessors whilst the front end ran 11 in a Parallel Processing configuration with paged common memory to share tasks and could run up to 20,000 concurrent controls objects.
It was believed that if openness could be achieved and greater amounts of data could be shared throughout the enterprise that even greater things could be achieved. The first attempts to increase the openness of DCSs resulted in the adoption of the predominant operating system of the day: UNIX. UNIX and its companion networking technology TCP-IP were developed by the US Department of Defense for openness, which was precisely the issue the process industries were looking to resolve.


As a result suppliers also began to adopt Ethernet-based networks with their own proprietary protocol layers. The full TCP/IP standard was not implemented, but the use of Ethernet made it possible to implement the first instances of object management and global data access technology. The 1980s also witnessed the first PLCs integrated into the DCS infrastructure. Plant-wide historians also emerged to capitalize on the extended reach of automation systems. The first DCS supplier to adopt UNIX and Ethernet networking technologies was Foxboro, who introduced the I/A Series[8] system in 1987.