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Essential Documentation for Controls Engineers in Process Industries

At Malisko, we understand that the realm of process documentation is vast and filled with varied terminologies and acronyms. Drawing from our experience in Computer System Validation (CSV) in regulated industries, we’d like to clarify the essential documents used in controls engineering within process industries. This is not a complete list, but it does cover the big hitters. Here’s how we categorize and utilize these key documents:

1. User Requirements Specification (URS)

Authored by project stakeholders, the URS captures all user needs and expectations. It sets the stage for the project, ensuring that the final system aligns with user requirements and project scope.

2. Process Narrative

Developed by process engineers, this document provides a comprehensive overview of the process flow and how each system component interacts. The narrative is often paired with a Process Flow Diagram (PFD) and is fundamental for grasping the operational goals and overall system functionality.

3. Sequence of Operations (SOO)

Detailed by process engineers often in collaboration with control system engineers, the SOO outlines the specific operational steps of the process, crucial for control system programming and operational sequence accuracy.

4. Functional Specification (FS)

Also known as the Functional or Process Description, this document is prepared by controls engineers to detail the operations and functionalities of each URS requirement. It bridges the concepts from the Process Narrative and SOO to something practical that a controls engineer can use as the foundation for programming.

5. Detailed Design Specification (DDS)

This document describes the hardware and software platforms that comprise your industrial control system. It is technical in nature and focuses on design detailing how the system is designed and how it is implemented. Depending on the project’s needs, the DDS may be subdivided into:

  • Software Design Specification (SDS): Provides an overall description of the software packages, software implementation, how the system interfaces with the users, how code is written, database configurations, etc. Pinning charts, phase/sequence programming details, and parametrization are examples of items found in an SDS.
  • Hardware Design Specification (HDS): Provides a description of the main system components, how they interact, and how they are interconnected. Some examples could include server infrastructure and control system network topology.

There are several other documents such as Traceability Matrix, FAT/SAT, IOQ, etc., which we also work with in the process industries, especially regulated industries. At Malisko, each document plays a critical role in guiding the system development from conception to implementation ensuring alignment with customer expectations. Whether you’re embarking on a new project or refining an existing system, understanding and utilizing these documents effectively is key to achieving success in the complex landscape of process industries.


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