What is Distribution Control System (DCS)? How does it function?

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Distribution Control System (DCS) can be defined as a specially designed automated control system that effectively distributes control elements throughout the plant as subsystems. DCS emerged into the field of electronic control when the Centralized Control System was ruling the era. In a Centralized Control System, there is only a single controller which functions at a central location handling the entire processing. The major drawback of this system is that the entire operation control will shut down or tremendously fail if the central system faces a hardware or software failure. 

In order to address this concern, electronic fields introduced DCS with multiple subsystems, such as sensors and controllers, located across the plant in various positions handling assigned workloads respectively. These large numbers of dedicated controllers are connected and coordinated through the plant’s high speech communication network. Major industrial fields such as chemical plants, oil and gas industries, nuclear power plants, automobile industries etc. use DCS for a reliable control system, increased processing quality and better efficiency. 

The working principle of DCS is that the sensors or dedicated controllers spread across the plant receive data from the fields and send it to I/O modules, which transfers them to the process control unit. The control unit reads and interprets the collected data to make an automated decision as per the control logic already implemented. Further they send the decision and instructions to individual controllers throughout the plant. 

DCS is a crucial aspect of large manufacturing industries where thousands of control loops have to be controlled simultaneously and distributed power can work collaboratively for the better good. They are extensively used for production scheduling, maintenance scheduling, information exchanges etc. Major advantages of DCS include:

  • Increased efficiency of the control system
  • Automated functioning, reducing the workload of human engineers
  • Reduced risk of system failure, as the failed subsystems can be isolated for repairing, when the whole system goes on. 
  • Enhanced reporting 
  • Better safety & security

Installation, repair and maintenance of this distributed control system is undertaken by some of the best electrical construction companies in Saudi Arabia Industries of various fields are in heavy search for cost-effective ways of installing and maintaining DCS as they have become a necessity more than a need.