Frequently asked questions

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Systems Integration

Project Management

Shaping a Successful Result from the Start aeSolutions manages every project with a comprehensive set of tools for planning and tracking tasks, deliverables, and milestones. Clear communications and rigorous documentation ensure that client expectations are met throughout the project.

  • Dedicated project management group
  • Project scheduling and tracking
  • Resource allocation
  • Scope and budget control
  • Project execution planning
  • Risks, roles, and accountabilities identification
  • Meetings, action lists, and reporting
  • Project deliverable approval cycles
  • Gate reviews between approval stages
  • Purchasing and shipping
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Project Assessment Studies

Articulating the Project Vision aeSolutions engages its clients' stakeholders to determine project goals, scope boundaries, assumptions, and customer requirements. A common vision of the project is formulated in a project assessment report.

  • Site and field investigations
  • Current state quantification
  • Client requirements
  • Scope and boundaries
  • Project assumptions
  • Project vision
  • Assessment report

Conceptual Design

Characterizing the Control System aeSolutions' experienced professionals work closely with the client's engineers to map out the preliminary scope of work for the project and propose a high level view of the system requirements. The conceptual design includes a budgetary estimate and schedule to support the feasibility and business case reviews.

  • Scope of work for conceptual design
  • Conceptual system architecture
  • Migration strategies
  • Operational philosophy
  • Preliminary I/O counts
  • Preliminary Bill Of Material
  • Wiring philosophy
Project cost and schedule estimates +/- 30%

Feasibility and Business Case

Driving the Decision with Data Business drivers are evaluated, including return on investment, and safety and environmental issues. The earlier project assessment report and conceptual design provide essential data for this study. aeSolutions offers consultation, staff augmentation, and assistance with deliverables to support the decision making steps.

  • ROI and other justification
  • Risk assessment
  • Project alternatives
  • Preliminary engineering scope of work
  • Design review plans
  • Procurement plan
  • Vendor data
  • Project cost and schedule estimates +/- 20%

Preliminary Engineering

Converting Concept to Design Basis aeSolutions works under a project execution plan and performs the engineering to evolve a solid project design basis from an earlier conceptual design. Client review and approval cycles assure the quality of the functional requirements specification and the control system vendor evaluations.

  • Functional requirements specification
  • Instrument list and I/O count
  • Plant drawings (P&I, I&E, Loop, LAN, Arrangement)
  • Preliminary project architecture and migration drawings
  • Vendor platform evaluations
  • Bills of Material - hardware and software
  • Project cost and schedule estimates +/- 10%

Hardware Design Specifications

Developing Hardware Details aeSolutions and the client establish specific project standards for the detailed hardware design of the system and the field I/O.

  • Input / Output database and signal types
  • Control system cabinet layout practices
  • Controller, I/O, and interface modules
  • HMI operator interface equipment
  • Control networks, switches, fiber optics, and cabling
  • Marshalling cabinets and interposing relays
  • Servers and clients
  • Engineering workstations
  • Purging, temperature, smoke and fire detection

Software Design Specifications

Developing Software Details aeSolutions and the client establish project design standards for the system software and the HMI operator functions. aeSolutions and the client create detailed design specifications for each loop and control scheme. Individual control loops are configured and tested to the software design specifications.

  • Alarm management, summaries, and signals
  • Faceplates, Icons, screen navigation
  • Control loop specifications: tags, functions, parameters
  • Advanced control loop specifications
  • Process interlocks, alarms, first-outs, and resets
  • Batch control and phase logic
  • Process historian, alarm archives, trend displays
  • OPC, Modbus, and field bus interfaces

Instrument, Electrical, and Field Bus Design

Connecting to the Process aeSolutions provides CAD and engineering services for instrumentation, field devices, and electrical equipment including layout, installation, wiring, junction boxes, and cable runs.

  • Instrument data sheets
  • Installation details and connection diagrams
  • Junction box layout and interconnections
  • Location and arrangement drawings
  • Loop sheets and field wiring
  • Intrinsic safety analysis and barriers
  • Field bus and device wiring
  • Cabling, conduit, tray routing and fill
  • Grounding and shielding
  • Conductor sizing, voltage drop
  • Lighting, power plans, panel schedules
  • Single-line diagrams, motor elementaries, MCC views
  • Demolition drawings

Network Design

Distributing Monitoring and Control aeSolutions designs industry standard as well as vendor specific networks for distributing controllers, I/O, data servers, and operator stations. Networks like Industrial Ethernet can be a composite of cables, fiber optics, and wireless systems, with managed switches and routers. Control system vendors usually recommend products and standards that they have tested for reliability, bandwidth, deterministic protocols, redundancy, distances, and industrial environments. Access points between the wide area enterprise networks and the critical control system networks must be managed carefully. Installation quality and signal testing are critical to achieving a fast, reliable control network.

  • Distributed I/O networks
  • Controller communication networks
  • HMI servers and client networks
  • Switches, routers, and firewalls
  • Single mode and multimode fiber optics
  • Coax and twisted pair cables
  • Drawings and Bills of Material

Control System Configuration

Creating Consistently Correct Control aeSolutions' qualified specialists configure executable control logic and operator stations (HMI) to perform the required process functionality in accordance with project standards and client review cycles. Controls are configured according to a Software Design Specification. Software quality standards lead to consistent, correct, maintainable control systems.

  • Function block, ladder, sequencer, structured language
  • Engineering workstation configuration and productivity tools
  • Alarm management logic, summaries, and signals
  • Displays, faceplates, screen navigation, dynamics, trends
  • Tag database, set points, messages, and symbols
  • Regulatory and advanced control loops
  • Process interlocks, alarms, first-outs, and resets
  • Batch management and phase logic
  • Process historian, alarm archives, reports
  • Foreign device interfaces
  • Asset management and maintenance system

Hardware Design and Panel Fabrication

Supplying World-Class Panels aeSolutions operates its own 10,000 square foot FM approved and UL 508a certified panel fabrication and testing facility. The aeSolutions team designs and builds sophisticated panels both for a wide variety of projects, from small operator PLC cabinets, to large multi-bay safety and control systems designed to run large facilities. aeSolutions engineers specify and purchase hardware and software. Equipment is staged in the facility during integration and factory acceptance testing.

  • CAD drawings
  • Power supply, UPS, battery sizing
  • Heat load calculations
  • Panel Layout, wire ways, and interconnection wiring
  • Painting, labelling
  • Pressurization, purging
  • OEM racks, cards, relays, termination units, networks
  • Firmware, revisions, compatibilities
  • Bills of Material, purchasing, receiving, shipping

Simulation and Factory Acceptance Testing

Approving the Configurations aeSolutions builds process simulation test beds to prove that controls and operator interfaces will function in accordance with project requirements. A FAT plan with checklists lets the client's representatives test every loop and HMI screen against the Software Design Specification. Quality of workmanship can be reviewed. Punch list items are resolved before shipping the system.

  • Approved FAT test plan
  • FAT test results and punch list disposition
  • Option 1. Simulation panels hardwired to the real system I/O cards to emulate field devices.
  • Option 2. Simulation logic configured in the real controllers while ignoring real I/O racks.
  • Option 3. Simulation computers that interface to the real controller's I/O bus in place of the real I/O racks
  • Option 4. Simulation server systems that emulate the real controllers and I/O (for testing logic configurations without controller hardware).

Construction, Installation, Commissioning

Realizing the Vision aeSolutions can supply the construction scope of work and support the client with preparing and analyzing bid packages based on the detailed design. aeSolutions can support the control system and field installation activities, including power up and commissioning with cabinet testing, communication testing, and I/O signal testing. Commissioning demonstrates that the control system hardware and all the I/O devices are connected correctly and functioning.

  • Construction schedule, scope of work
  • Construction bid package
  • Construction bid evaluation support
  • Installation drawings
  • On-site construction support
  • Commissioning check sheets
  • On-site commissioning support

Site Acceptance Testing and Startup

Testing and Turn Over After the control system and all the I/O have been installed and commissioned, aeSolutions works with the client to supply the Site Acceptance Testing in accordance with aeSolutions' generated SAT plan. SAT is similar to the FAT, but includes testing of actual field devices and foreign device interfaces. Site Acceptance Testing proves that the supplied system, including the control logic and operator stations, is interfaced to the field I/O correctly and performs in accordance with the project specifications. aeSolutions offers startup support after the client has accepted the system.

  • Approved SAT test plan
  • SAT test results and punch list disposition
  • Startup assistance support

Training Services

Empowering the People aeSolutions provides webinars and training. Training specific to a control system project may be customized with training materials and manuals for operators or technical personnel. Project classes can be scheduled at aeSolutions' offices in conjunction with Factory Acceptance Testing, or at the client's site in conjunction with Site Acceptance Testing. Technical training offered by the control system vendor should be completed prior to the project specific technical training by aeSolutions.

  • Instructor with laptop from aeSolutions
  • Training syllabus, course outline
  • Training notebook materials
  • Hands-on exercises on client's system

Maintenance and Support

Supporting Client Successes aeSolutions offers qualified specialists to support clients' needs. Personnel can be provided to augment the client's staff or to consult on specific issues (hardware, software, safety, advanced control, networks, and alarm management, to name a few.) A Technical Services Agreement (TSA) is an annual arrangement with a time-plus-expenses purchase order and discounted pricing. The TSA makes pre-designated specialists available for pre-planned work or for short notice call outs. A small annual fee applies. For emergency service calls without a TSA in place, aeSolutions will make every effort to respond, depending on resource availability.

  • Staff augmentation services
  • Consulting services
  • Technical services agreement (TSA)
  • Emergency service order

Lifecycle and Upgrade Planning

Looking Ahead aeSolutions can provide the client with strategies, alternatives, and estimates for upgrades and migrations of safety and control systems.

  • Current state versus obsolescence
  • Software upgrades
  • Hardware upgrades
  • Platform and vendor migrations
  • Integration opportunities
  • Safety and Control System harmonizing
  • Expansions