What Are Best Practices and Standards for Control Narratives?

Adrian Taylor’s Question

At the place I work we are typically good at documenting how we configure our controls in the form of DDS documents but not always as good at documenting why they have been configured that way in the form of rigorous control narratives.

Hunter Vegas’ Answer

We do a lot of DeltaV systems and we use 3 different ways to “document” the control system. As a system integrator “document” for me may mean something than different than for you so let me explain that these documents are my way to tell my programmers exactly how I want the system to be configured. These documents fully define the system’s logic so they can program it and I can test against it.

  1. Tag List
  2. Logic Notes
  3. Batch Flowsheets

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Hiten Dalal’s Pipeline Feed System Example

I find the American Petroleum Institute Standard API RP 554 Part 1 (R2016) “Process Control Systems: Part 1-Process Control Systems Functions and Functional Specification Development” and the ISA Standard ANSI / ISA 5.06.01–2007 Functional Requirements Documentation for Control Software Applications to be very useful. ANSI/ISA95 also offers guidance on “Enterprise-Control System Integration.” These types of documents in my opinion help include the opinion of all stakeholders in the logic without the stakeholder having to be familiar with flow charting or logic diagrams or specific control system engineering terminology. The functional specification in my opinion is a progressive elaboration of a simple process description done by the process engineer. Once finalized, the functional specification can be developed into a SCADA/DCS operations manual by listing normal sequence of operation along with analysis of applicable responsibility such as operator action/responsibility, logic solver responsibility, and HMI display. You may download my example of a pipeline control system functional specification: Condensate Feed Pump & Alignment Motor Operated Valves (MOVs).

Additional Mentor Program Resources

See the ISA book 101 Tips for a Successful Automation Career that grew out of this Mentor Program to gain concise and practical advice. See the InTech magazine feature article Enabling new automation engineers for candid comments from some of the original program participants. See the Control Talk column How to effectively get engineering knowledge with the ISA Mentor Program protégée Keneisha Williams on the challenges faced by young engineers today, and the column How to succeed at career and project migration with protégé Bill Thomas on how to make the most out of yourself and your project. Providing discussion and answers besides Greg McMillan and co-founder of the program Hunter Vegas (project engineering manager at Wunderlich-Malec) are resources Mark Darby (principal consultant at CMiD Solutions), Brian Hrankowsky (consultant engineer at a major pharmaceutical company), Michel Ruel (executive director, engineering practice at BBA Inc.), Leah Ruder (director of global project engineering at the Midwest Engineering Center of Emerson Automation Solutions), Nick Sands (ISA Fellow and Manufacturing Technology Fellow at DuPont), Bart Propst (process control leader for the Ascend Performance Materials Chocolate Bayou plant) and Daniel Warren (senior instrumentation/electrical specialist at D.M.W. Instrumentation Consulting Services, Ltd.).

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International Society of Automation - ISA Official

International Society of Automation - ISA Official

The International Society of Automation (isa.org) is a non-profit professional association founded in 1945 to create a better world through automation.