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Techniques contribute in control system

1. Any successful methodology is not a simple thing to come by and typically requires a huge commitment in time and money and resources to develop. It will take several generations to hone the methods and supporting tools.

2. Once you get the methods and tools in place, you then face a whole separate challenge of indoctrinating the engineers in the methods.

3. Unique HMI text involves a lot of design effort, implementation, and testing.

Many of the techniques contributed by others in the discussion address faults, but how do you address the "normal" things that can hold up an action such as waiting for a process condition to occur, such as waiting for a level/pressure/temperature to rise above/fall below a threshold or waiting for a part to reach a limit switch?

Some methods allow for a text message that describes each step. When developing these text messages, I focus on what the step's transition is waiting for, not the actions that take place during the specific step. This helps both the operator to learn the process as well as diagnose what is preventing the machine from advancing to its next step.

I have seen sequencing engines that incorporate a "normal" step time that can be configured for each step and if the timer expires before the normal transition occurs, then you have "hold" condition. While effective, this involves a lot of up-front development time to understand the process and this does not come cheaply (with another nod to John’s big check!).

(Side note on sequential operations: I have used Sequential Function Charts (SFCs/GRAFCET) for over 20 years and find them to be exceptionally well-suited for step-wise operations, both from a development perspective as well as a troubleshooting perspective.)

I have seen these techniques pushed by end users (typically larger companies who have a vested interest in standardization across many sites) as well as OEMs and System Integrators who see these as business advantages in shortening development, startup, and support cycles. Again, these are long-term business investments that require a major commitment to achieve.

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