Process Safety

Safety and controllers

Safety and controllers are looked at from different angles in the August issue of AppliedAutomation.
By Jack Smith August 6, 2019

The cover story in this issue of AppliedAutomation, which focuses on gas burners and valve safety trains, is a departure from the usual article that typically appears in the publication. You may ask, “What do gas burners and valve safety trains have to do with industrial automation?” That’s a fair question, and a good one. As the author states in the article, “A multitude of sensors within the valve safety train — pressure switches, flame detectors, position indicators — and isolation and relief valves work together in concert to prevent accidents.” The automation comes into play by logically linking these safety components to the burner management system.

Throughout the article, the author describes the types of thermal processes that use burners and valve safety trains, describes their functionality, explains the dangers of how they can fail and offers alternatives to traditional solutions. In addition, he advocates training and preventive maintenance: “The onus is on the safety professional, who along with their staff, must have a core level of knowledge regarding safe practices of valve safety trains, even if a contractor will be doing the preventive maintenance work. Most accidents and explosions are due to human error and a lack of training when an unknowing employee, for example, attempts to bypass a safety control.”

While the cover story is different from what usually appears in these pages, the other story featured in this issue is a familiar topic: Choosing a controller for industrial applications. The author lists and defines the most popular controller categories for operations technology (OT) projects and suggests criteria for selection: “When choosing a controller for an application, there’s often more than one right answer. Choosing the correct controller requires evaluating several characteristics and perhaps considering multiple applications.”


Jack Smith
Author Bio: Content manager, CFE Media