Author Archives: Claudia Hansen

How to Have Control System with Style? Part 1

When a design engineer would like to implement and design a control system with integration project, he/she should start with a set of goals or specifications. These goals should determine the preferences of the end-user and this should be communicated efficiently to ensure that final output satisfies the expectations of all stakeholders in a company. This gives of a good start for any design engineer when specifications are carefully developed and implemented. It ensures the highest success probability of the project and it makes sure that in the long haul, the control system can be maintained and operates efficiently.

When designing a new control system, the easiest one to develop are the hard-side specifications. Why? Because there are many resources available for this one. Pre-built sections for controllers and software packages in a control system are in the resources of Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). Once an engineer cannot find the detail that he/she desires, other control system hardware and software sellers can also provide detailed sections about hard-side specifications. Once the end user are looking for bids from several seller or vendors of this system, the specifications the company would like to have must be carefully developed and consider so that these can be met by several bidders.

The real challenge comes when a company or an end user would like to set the specifications on the soft-side of controls. To guide them in the decision-making process, they should start with a few basic questions:

What design should be considered for the screen?

How is the controller is going to be used by the maintenance or engineering personnel?

The structure of tags and operating pump colors are hardly addressed in the specifications. These are the elements which determines the UI (user interface) of the control system.

Once these guidelines are answered, the next step of action is to start the layout with a style guide. Style guides has been existing for a very long time on other fields. There are The Associated Press Stylebook, MLA Handbook for research papers, and in marketing field where fonts, colors, and logos for branding are also guided & monitored across all social media platforms. In this scenario, style guide is also appropriate and applicable.

With this in mind, there is not limitation what elements and considerations should be added in a control system style guide. However, the following are six areas where there should be standardization of style and these elements has proven to have the most return on investment:

  1. Color

Like the usual traffic lights, red signifies stop and green means go. With this in mind, mechanical systems and electrical systems also applies the same principles. The main goal of color coding is to keep the operators and personnel safe in company operations. The color does not only signify coding but it should be well implemented in the company processes.

To start the process of deciding which colors to use for guidelines, determine the list of colors used in a facility where the control system will be used. Look for painted process pipes, pilot lights, control panels, stack lights, etc. The colors used should be familiar with the personnel for a more efficient use of the control guide and better operations.