Yokogawa Electric Corporation has announced the release of an enhanced version of the STARDOM™ network-based control system’s FCN-RTU low power autonomous controller.

The functional enhancements to this enhanced version include the addition of support for the FOUNDATIONT fieldbus and HART(R) digital communication protocols. This makes it possible to acquire maintenance information from various types of devices used at oil and gas wells and other production facilities that are distributed over a wide geographic area, thereby improving the efficiency of device management and reducing production maintenance costs.

Development background

In response to the world’s growing demand for energy, oil companies have been working hard for the past few years to increase output, drilling oil and gas wells even in remote locations where there is inadequate power supply and communications infrastructure.

The cost of sending maintenance engineers to these widely distributed oil and gas well sites to inspect the production equipment installed there imposes a heavy financial burden for the oil companies. This is driving the introduction of solutions that make it possible for companies to centrally manage all maintenance information, including maintenance histories and field device information.

To meet this need, Yokogawa has enhanced the FCN-RTU low power autonomous controller by adding support for the FOUNDATION fieldbus and HART digital communication protocols, thereby giving it the capability to acquire maintenance information from field devices.

Key benefits of the new version include reduced wiring costs, enhanced accuracy and the ability to carry out highly efficient device inspection and predictive maintenance.

Support for FOUNDATION fieldbus gives the controller the ability to receive multi-variable data (temperature, pressure etc) from a multi-sensing transmitter over a single cable, and also allows multi-drop connections with field devices. This reduces wiring installation and maintenance costs, and the simplified wiring is easier to maintain.

To reliably calculate the oil and natural gas production volume, it is necessary for a controller to obtain highly accurate data such as temperature and pressure. This controller’s support of digital communications with field devices lessens the need for digital-to-analogue and analogue-to-digital data conversion, which improves the accuracy of production volume calculation by reducing conversion error.

By using this FCN-RTU together with Plant Resource Manager (PRM™ – Yokogawa’s integrated device management software package), various types of information from field devices that support the FOUNDATION fieldbus and HART communication protocols can be centrally managed. This information can be used to schedule inspections, thereby improving maintenance efficiency.

PRM’s diagnostic functions such as differential pressure transmitter impulse line blocking diagnosis allow maintenance engineers to determine when maintenance should be performed. With predictive maintenance, a device is maintained before it fails. This is particularly useful with devices installed in remote locations, where a quick response is difficult.

Masatoshi Nakahara, general manager of the Industrial Automation Systems Business Center at Yokogawa’s Industrial Automation Business Headquarters, said: “Applying proven digital technology to oil and gas wellhead control and monitoring revolutionises field management. The integrated diagnostics information delivered via FOUNDATION fieldbus enables predictive maintenance of sensors and actuators, thus improving device availability.

“Yokogawa will continue to deliver digital technology solutions that make it possible to steadily reduce costs.”

Major target markets for the new system include highly distributed gas and oil field facilities, environmental monitoring facilities, water treatment facilities, wind power generators and gas distribution facilities.
Applications include monitoring, operation, and control of production facilities, and the logging and transmission of data.