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Process Control Systems > PICS Pro Simulation Software

PICS Pro Simulation Software

PICS Pro is a highly intuitive plant simulation package from SST, used by Industrial Technology Systems Ltd (ITS) to accurately test and debug plant control and SCADA systems through all stages of the project lifecycle.

PICS Pro simulates digital and analogue plant I/O and groups them into device objects such as valves or reactor vessels. Using PICS Pro, ITS’ engineers can replace all of the switch boxes and lights, and their associated time-consuming and costly wiring and testing, with a meaningful dynamic display. Testing with a PICS simulation allows controller and SCADA testing without a process expert present to ensure states are changed in the right order and at the right time, and enables them to be released back to the plant to do the job you need them to do.

Testing with a dynamic PICS model drastically reduces the time required for site acceptance testing and commissioning activities. It minimises downtime during installation and can save hours and even days of time, depending on the size of the system. PICS Pro allows system changes or replacements to be implemented within smaller shutdown periods, safe in the knowledge that the modification or replacement has been extensively tested including the ability to test complex plant failure modes.

PICS Pro has an in built logger function to log the performance and operation of the simulation in use.  ITS uses PICS Pro to allow the control system to run over 24 hour periods, and to set up scheduled simulated plant faults to test the operation of the control system software. The PICS Pro Logger allows the data retrieved to be evaluated to confirm satisfactory operation of the control system when the faults occur.  PICS Pro allows additional bench testing of the software to be performed even when engineers are not in attendance.

PICS Pro models can also be used to evaluate process changes, and to assess controller and SCADA modifications required to accommodate any process change, resulting in more accurate budget forecasting and payback estimation.
In addition to the benefits PICS Pro can deliver to projects, PICS models can be employed at the heart of an operator training system providing a safe, risk-free environment for operators to learn best practice for using the plant, and to experience abnormal situation management. Good operator training and periodic refresher training leads to improvements in product quality and reductions in waste and cost.

Having used PICS Pro simulation software on several major control system contracts, including those involved in the safety critical nuclear, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries, and now specifying the software on a full time basis, Andrew Mazzetti, ITS’ project engineer, says, “ITS recognises the importance of testing to ensure that our customers are completely satisfied with the system installed, and that they meet the strict industry guidelines. PICS Pro simulation software benefits both solution providers and customers. It reduces the cost of installation and allows the engineering team to test thoroughly before a system is installed.”

PICS has also played a significant role in ITS’ work in highly regulated industries.  The rise in regulatory bodies and standards, including the FDA in the pharmaceutical industry and IEC 61508 for the nuclear industry, has led to the need for more rigorous testing regimes and greater accuracy in system installations. After investing in their first PICS simulation package in 1998, ITS engineers have been able to keep abreast of these regulatory issues and, at the same time, experience the immediate benefits. Today, the majority of systems implemented by ITS use the PICS package, so customers can be confident that the systems will be implemented effectively with minimal disruption to their process.

Malcolm Knott, Managing Director of Industrial Technology Systems Ltd, firmly believes that the PICS simulation software package should be viewed as a long-term investment and not simply in terms of initial cost. He says, “When the costs of a PICS license are compared to the benefits that both solution providers and the end user can achieve, it is evident that the latter significantly outweighs the investment. Through the use of PICS, ITS has enhanced its performance and reputation in the competitive industry.”

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