Delegation of Control in Integrated Operations

Advancing technologies open up new possibilities to improve manufacturing and production processes. But, one of the great challenges is to revamp the work processes and procedures to best take advantage of these technologies. One example is in integrated operations (iOps) for oil & gas producers.

Emerson's Jeff Dymond


Emerson's Brian Atkinson


In an E&P article, Delegation Of Control In An iOps Command Center, Emerson’s Jeff Dymond and Brian Atkinson describe how control technologies and field devices and networks help to enable remote process monitoring and control. This opens up opportunities to place personnel in control centers close or distant from the process.

iOps-Delegation-of-ControlJeff and Brian stress the importance of an effective delegation of control strategy. They open citing a common requirement:

In large assets that use remote iOps centers such as oil or gas fields that have well pads, separation units, compression stations and pipelines, there will often be a requirement when control must be executed by operators or maintenance personnel in the field. During a startup or maintenance outage, personnel may be working on a compressor, valve or instrument in these areas; therefore, control will need to be local for personnel and process equipment safety.

A control governance model describes:

…procedures, workflows, authorization and documentation for moving control to and from the field and tracking where an asset is controlled… Personnel in the iOps Command Center need the ability to delegate control to field personnel and for field personnel to be able to return control back to the iOps Center.

Or in cases where local control is primary and remote control required in events such as offshore platform hurricane evacuation, these also require a delegation of control governance model.

Jeff and Brian explain that from a risk management perspective:

Delegation of control to the field and back to the iOps Command Center should be part of the process safety management plan. Operating procedures must be defined with appropriate workflows in place. Delegation and reclaiming of control need to be well defined in the emergency planning and response procedures for the enterprise.

As procedures and workflows are developed there are several considerations. Procedures:

…should answer when the action should be performed, who is authorized to perform the action, how it affects the business, the risk associated with the action and how it’s documented for optimization analysis and continual improvement.

Workflows:

…combined with proper training give an operator or a maintenance technician the ability to perform the action with minimal help. Workflows should contain screens shots of the distributed control systems graphics and pictures of the equipment in the field where appropriate.

Read the article for recommended thoughts on operations, maintenance, production and model considerations. They conclude:

As technology allows control of a process from ever-increasing distances, procedures and workflows to allow delegation of that control will continue to grow in importance. Any operator, local or remote, needs to assess immediately who is in control of the process. Operators also need detailed procedures for relinquishing or requesting control. Process safety management and operational risk management principles for the site must include delegation of control to ensure that proper consideration is made for this important new requirement.

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