Process control cabinet
Working in SAIT’s one-of-a-kind Distributed Control System (DCS) lab in the Spartan Centre for Instrumentation Excellence, the students used the same industrial computers and cabinets that drive real-life processing plants. Industrial automation is universal in how it measures, computes and controls refined products such as petrochemicals, renewables, pulp and paper, and treated wastewater.
“The students followed the steps involved in refining or treating a raw product, processing it, then measuring its volume as it is transferred to a client,” says Mark Tarrant, Lead DSC instructor — Instrumentation. “In times like the COVID-19 shutdown, the need for such skills becomes clear — this type of equipment is often used to process the natural gas that generates electricity and heat, and the diesel used to transport food and other essential goods.”
Tech on campus
Grey vs yellow
The grey devices (left) regulate everyday operations such as flow rates and pressure; the yellow side is the safety system used to shut down a plant in an emergency.
Ethernet or fibre optic cables plugged into these outlets will connect the cabinet with the plant control room — sometimes hundreds of miles away.
1s + Os
In Information Technology (IT), binary numbers represent whether an electrical current in a computer microchip is off (0) or on (1). Instrumentation uses Operational Technology (OT), where changing a zero to one can activate industrial equipment like a motor or a pump.
The cabinet is set up to measure the incoming volume of water pulled up from this tank. In industry, similar equipment is used to measure pressure, level, temperature, current and voltage in oil, gas and even electricity generation.
Adding electricity makes the tuning fork hum. When the water reaches the fork, it changes the hum or frequency, alerting the operator to shut the inflow off since there is a high level in the tank.
A $2 million donation from Spartan Controls created this Centre in 2012.
Behind the scenes
Go behind the scenes of LINK's photoshoot in the Spartan Centre for Instrumentation Excellence with HarderLee Photography.
This story was originally written for the Spring 2020 issue of LINK magazine — SAIT in the time of COVID