Organizational Review of Plant Automation Group

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Organizational Review of Plant Automation Group

It is intended that this organizational review, will provide the Districts with a better understanding of the changing process computer hardware and software support needs. Also to review the department location for the Plant Automation Group (Group), and develop recommendations on the proposed reporting relationships.

¨ Review the background information.

¨ Identify the primary and secondary functions of the Plant Automation Group

¨ Review possible location of the Plant Automation Group.

¨ Identify and review reporting relationships options

DEFINITIONS

Definitions used within this organizational review.

SCADA Supervisory and Data Acquisition System
PLC Programmable Logic Controller
HMI Human Machine Interface
ITD Information Technology Department
PAG Plant Automation Group
GM General Manager

BACKGROUND

When the Districts first began consideration to form a focal group with responsibility for Plant Automation, a task force was formed to make recommendations. The one recommendation this task was unable to come to agreement on was the location of this new Plant Automation Group (PAG). An executive decision was made by the General Manager to center the PAG in the Information Technology Department (ITD).

In September 1994, the Joint Board contracted with Ernst & Young to produce a "Management Review of the Proposed Plant Automation Group for the Sanitation Districts of Orange County". Their report recommended the location be with ITD but noted that for the duration of the J-31 project, some engineering-related activities would be involved and require close coordination with the Engineering Department. As late as July 1995 when Ernst & Young performed the Finance Function Review (which included the Information Services Division), they echoed their previous recommendation but provided a timeline of approximately two years to revisit the issue of PAG's location. However, this was not a firm recommendation.

Over the past several months, a number of problems have made it clear that the two year time frame identified in the Ernst & Young report may have been optimistic. The problems of budget management, close coordination and communication have placed a strain on the existing management of the ITD, creating frustration and numerous problems throughout many parts of the organization.

Primary Functions

The charter of the Plant Automation focuses on:

¨ Support of the Operations Division

¨ Providing engineering integration assistance through software and hardware analysis and the setting of standards

¨ Support of the Maintenance Division regarding system and software modifications and changes

¨ Assisting in the roll-out of the J-31 contract so that a transfer of knowledge between CH2M Hill and the Districts occurs

¨ Analyzing and the recommendation of system and network architecture, system design, and integration proposals.

The Plant Automation Group is made up of a number of disciplines. Process control programming is very different from the type of programming which Information Technology has been doing and requires different education, skills, and experience. These skill sets all need to be integrated and unified for the purposes of process control. Skills required include the administration of VAX computer environments, configuration, computer operations, data communications for Ethernet and report generation.

The Plant Automation Group also covers PLC development and programming, HMI development, and data communications required for PLCs. It is also necessary to perform software development for process control systems, either personally or by assuming oversight responsibility for contractual development. Once a system is in place, this is a task which cannot be contracted out due to the highly customized nature of the process control software...
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