Engenuity Inc. provides control automation and data integration solutions with a focus on advanced technologies for the oil and gas industry. Through their work in this industry, they have identified specific gaps in the validation pressure testing of blowout preventers (BOPs) and well control equipment. These tests are often performed manually and can cost operators millions of dollars each year.
Working with clients like Shell International Exploration and Production Company, Engenuity has developed a suite of fully automated test execution and reporting products. Their high reliability solution uses the Opto 22 groov EPIC (Programmable Industrial On-Board Controller) to integrate critical functions such as process control, SMS and email notifications, as well as process history storage and replication.
Using Engenuity’s BOPX test software, system operators can map valve networks and their associated pressure limits, then automatically run and report on a variety of test scenarios. Engenuity’s retrofitable EZ Valve actuator integrates manual, low torque, and plug valves into this automated system, actuating up to 70 valves through up to 30 test sequences. Engenuity’s EZ Vision leak detection sensors add acoustic analysis to the system to help pinpoint the location of leaks.
While Engenuity has added many features to the BOPX system over the years, Ted Royer, Control Engineer at Engenuity, points out that âall test software is on the EPIC. BOPX is just an interface now.
Its main role in running tests is to send configuration data to the groove. EPIC edge controller via Modbus / TCP connection using the configurable EPIC firewall to protect critical control data. One of the controller’s two network ports is configured as a read-only interface joined to an untrusted network named the Manufacturing Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The other network port is attached to a separate trusted network, called the manufacturing area, where all I / O and control communications take place. The EPIC prevents traffic from routing between its two ports, so there is no risk of untrusted connections corrupting configuration, execution, or processing history data on the trusted network.
Process control and history
After the configuration data has been securely transmitted, the edge controller begins to run test cases. The automated valve bases and EZ Valve and EZ Vision connections are integrated directly into the local I / O modules of the EPIC or into additional EPICs used as remote I / O.
As the test runs, the primary controller monitors the process. âWe have a very well developed alarm system that we have developed over the decades,â adds Royer. “It runs in the controller, not in the HMI, so it is available for other systems,” including external mail and messaging services, which the control program contacts to generate notifications for a range of conditions.
The main controller also stores process data on an internal MariaDB server, a popular and proven open source database management system. MariaDB is available in a cryptographically signed package from the Opto 22 Linux repository. Using the free Secure Shell (SSH) license for Groov EPIC, Engenuity can download and install this application and many more to run them directly on their edge controller. Signed applications prevent the introduction of malware masquerading as legitimate software.
To transfer data from the control engine to the database, Engenuity uses Node-Red, an open source IoT engine originally designed by IBM, which is pre-installed and integrated with the management layer of Groov EPIC. It provides thousands of functions for connecting and processing data from different sources including devices, databases and web services. Engenuity configures Node-Red to monitor I / O, process variables, and events, then push those data points to the internal MariaDB server.
Data integrity and availability
Since test data is used to validate the safety and efficiency of the user’s system, customers need frequent access to process history and often need additional protections to ensure the data integrity.
âTypically, on an oil rig, customers only have a Wi-Fi connection to the equipment, which is not very reliable,â Royer explains. âSometimes they want to pull massive amounts of records, or even entire jobs, into an Excel spreadsheet. It doesn’t need to be real-time, however, so we’ll be installing another controller here in the office that will act as a replica for whoever is in the field.
Instead of overloading the primary EPIC with large data requests, clients connect to the replica controller, which periodically requests updates from the primary MariaDB server. âWe have a lot of bandwidth here [in the office]”Royer adds,” so it gives them the best of both worlds. “
To facilitate secure data exchange, Engenuity connects the replica controller to the offshore manufacturing area network via a point-to-point VPN connection. Engenuity then grants clients read-only credentials on that private network. Engenuity hosts multiple replica controllers in its offices, each of which connects externally through a separate dedicated VPN appliance. âIt’s simple and as tough as it gets,â Royer says.
If a customer wants to distribute process data beyond a single site, Engenuity leverages the integrated Ignition Edge platform on groov EPIC. Designed by Inductive Automation, the modular platform architecture allows Engenuity to install a range of components, including functions to send OPC tag data directly to cloud services like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud or IBM Cloud. . Once there, customers can access test data around the world.
Why the edge control?
For Engenuity customers, the cost of downtime can range from $ 15,000 to $ 20,000 per hour, so BOPX must run quickly and reliably to generate value. Engenuity decided to standardize EPICs against traditional APIs, as the built-in automation reduced O&M costs while helping them deliver a more competitive solution.
Depending on the size and operations of a facility, Engenuity’s BOPX test system can save 10 to 20 hours for each complete test with a fully integrated system. With high availability and automated testing, Engenuity customers can reduce on-site staff and have more easily adapted to remote operations.
âThere are so many benefits to having a complete control system that can tell you what’s wrong,â Royer explains. “I will receive a text [from the control system] in the middle of the night, and I’m already logged in on time [the customer] call me. I can tell them exactly where the problem is, and usually it’s something simple.
With traditional PLCs, Royer also points out, Engenuity’s solution would require ongoing support from IT, but with edge controllers, they are able to manage the entire solution themselves.
“[Users] do not have space for server racks. These [IT rooms] are unclassified areas in the middle of dangerous areas. They are designed to be half full and [typically] they are full. So now you’re going to replace that with stuff that can come out in a NEMA 4 box …[Our EPICâs] there are 9 servers on it and we didn’t even take up 1 foot of space! If you want another, it’s only $ 1,500 more.
With control at the edge, Engenuity eliminates complex multi-product integration requirements and provides seamless operation and instant access to data. Jeff Hilpert, President of Engenuity, adds, âIntegrating data and control into a single backplane has been key to dramatically reducing costs, improving availability, accessing data and expanding usage.
To learn more about Engenuity, find them at engenuityinc.com.