No more control room headaches

2013-10-21 - Better overview, clearer information and more time for operators – these are just some of the benefits that leading paints and chemicals company AkzoNobel gained with an ABB Extended Operator Workplace (EOW-x) control room.
By ABB Communications

AkzoNobel is one of the world’s leading paints and coatings companies and a major producer of specialty chemicals.

At its specialty chemicals factory in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, the company produces a cellulose-based powder called Bermocoll, which is used as a binding agent in water-based paints and in building materials like filler and tile adhesive.

Bermocoll is produced in batches in reactors where the cellulose is mixed with chemical additives. In order to supervise the production lines, reactor operators act as ‘directors’ for each shift team’s work.

“Previously there was a problem here. There were too many alarms and the reactor operators had to sit and press lots of buttons to silence the system,” says Robert Lundwall, technical manager at the facility.

“Instead of constantly reacting to alarms, operators can now address alarm situations before they occur.”
Thomas Elfving, System Engineer, AkzoNobel

This problem is by no means unique to AkzoNobel, but is common to the process industries as a whole. Operators quite simply have to keep an eye on too many things and respond to too many unnecessary alarms. AkzoNobel decided to do something about it.

One of the things they did was to invest in an Extended Operator Workplace (EOW-x) control room for their existing System 800xA process automation system.

Instead of supervising a large number of detailed displays for each part of the production process, reactor operators now control the process from a single operator workplace comprising three large overview displays and six smaller monitors and just one keyboard. This provides them with a much-improved overview of the process and better quality control.

“The new control room provides our operators with greater opportunities to be proactive,” says Thomas Elfving, system engineer at AkzoNobel. “There is also a clearer alarm priority. Instead of reacting to alarms, the operators can now address alarm situations before they occur. They feel that the information is clearer and that the monitors give a good overview.”

The integrated functions and ergonomics of EOW-x are unrivalled in today’s control room world. Operators in an EOW-x workplace enjoy an overview that is fully adapted to their individual needs. Large screens and monitors, desks, lighting, speakers and cameras can all be integrated into a total control room environment that combines full comfort and ergonomics with access to all system tools needed to supervise processes. This promotes fast and correct decision-making in critical situations, and is highly attractive to the new generation of control room operators.

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