The benefits of adding remote access to your DCS system

Benefits of adding remote access to your DCS system include lower cost service, higher service speed, and changes can be made to similar processes with less effort.


Benefits of adding remote access to your DCS system include lower cost service, higher service speed, and changes can be made to similar processes with less effort. Even though the economy seems to be turning around, people are still very concerned with price. When a project is going through the planning stages, remote access from your integrator should be considered. There are several significant reasons for this consideration, the most important being quality.

You’ve already made the costly decision to implement a new system, or upgrade an existing system, but penny-pinching at this stage can submarine the whole project. Benefits of adding remote access include, but are not limited to:

  • Lower cost of service over time
  • Speed of service
  • A large number of changes can be made to similar processes with less effort.

Let’s start with the most important one. Implementing remote access to your distributed control system (DCS) will give your integrator the ability to improve your process with a much lower long-term cost. The initial cost of installing the parts required to gain remote access are relatively low. The only real cost would be a new panel and cell modem with a corresponding data plan. This should not discourage those with an existing system from implementing remote access, because the cost is still relatively low compared to the benefit.

As some of you may have learned, a system without remote access can be very costly to maintain or make changes to. Typically, when a system without remote access needs support, the responsible party will contact an integrator to come on-site to perform the job as soon as possible. If the work to be performed is major and requires a shutdown, then it may be best to have the integrator come on-site, which can be costly and time consuming.

If the work to be performed is small and can be done while the system is running, it is much more cost-effective and efficient to use remote access. Looking at the “small work” scenario, the cost of an integrator to come on-site will greatly exceed the initial cost of installing this feature. Drive or flight time, food, hotel, and on-site time will add up quickly and can be avoided with remote access.

If the cost of having an integrator come on-site is not an issue, then the next most important reason to implement remote access is scheduling. If an issue arises that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, it far faster for the integrator to assess and address the situation from its office.

When an emergency comes up, I drop what I am doing and immediately log on the system to determine a solution. If remote access is not available, and if the site is far enough away, then it could be impossible to adequately address the emergency in a timely manner.

In the case where a customer has a large number of sites that have similar processes, maintaining those sites and implementing becomes much easier. If changes need to be made, it is much quicker to log in remotely and make changes to multiple locations, as opposed to traveling to each site and making the changes on-site. Not to mention, the entire collection of systems can be on the same page at relatively the same time.

I would encourage anyone to implement remote access to their systems, even if it is never used. As they say, “pray for the best, plan for the worst.” Remote access is the best, quickest, and most cost-effective way of obtaining timely service for any DCS system. The use of remote access will quickly pay for itself considering the costs of not having remote access if and when an issue arises.

- Edited by Anisa Samarxhiu, digital project manager, CFE Media, 

Francisco , NJ, United States, 02/26/15 09:07 AM:

You need to consider security when opening an entry point to your control network.
lynn , TX, United States, 02/26/15 09:17 AM:

The disadvantage is Security - or rather the lack of it.

DCS systems have a history of not having security as a primary design consideration, and retrofitting security into an existing can be an extensive task.
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me