Instrumentation and Control (I&C) engineering, a sub-discipline of electrical engineering, deals mainly with electronics, instrumentation, control, mechatronics and automation. It is considered the heart of industries. Though all the disciplines of engineering work together to solve critical problems of society and nature, I&C is the pillar of today’s and tomorrow’s world.
Industries, private organisations and government institutions invest heavily in the production and manufacture of engineered products for various applications. Ideas and critical analysis are needed to derive the blueprint of various engineered solutions and products. Engineered products are heterogeneous, so consequently every product and solution is designed and sometimes customised to meet the requirements of specific applications.
In today’s world, engineers face challenges to develop suitable products which can completely conform to requirements of application, as critical application needs very sophisticated and robust products which cost heavily and impacts on management, operation, growth and profitability of the relevant industries. Engineering economics plays a vital role under such circumstances and it helps engineers to develop and customise the integrated solution which optimises costs and fits the purpose. This approach of engineers has opened a new area of business which is called as smart system integration.
Engineers who are working in the I&C industry possess knowledge in products, applications, integration philosophy and more. Intelligent building automation is one of the finest examples of how I&C solutions bring comfort to human lives.
Solutions and products of I&C engineering are employed in all kinds of industries for various applications such as space exploration, oil and gas, petrochemicals, hydrocarbon, power, infrastructure, cement, paper, material handling, packaging and supply chain, water and utility, waste management system, aerospace, marine, defence, financial services, health sector, manufacturing and production, etc. There are various products such as the smart instrumentation system, Process control and monitoring system, supervisory control and data acquisition system, distributed control system, backbone automation system, remote monitoring system, plant information management system, plant management system, sutomatic control and signaling system, automatic toll management system, smart traffic control system, smart building management system, safety control and shutdown system, energy management system, power management system, distribution management system, fire and gas detection system and fire protection system, life safety protection systems, etc. These are utilised to engineer, develop and customise various solutions which help implementing the integrated system for specific application.
I&C products help industries in various aspects such as optimisation of process, increasing productivity, high volume of production, enhancing operability, decreasing cost, consistency, reliability and accuracy, increased quality, sustainability and enhancing health and safety. These aspects are critical for success for any industry.
Nowadays, every industry needs automation and control systems to optimise the business process resulting in huge reduction of costs in many areas. This helps industries to be more competitive in the marketplace in terms of cost, time and quality. The triangle of cost, time and quality is one of the essential elements for any industry to be successful while competing in the local and global market.
Bangladesh has many opportunities to contribute in the growing business of I&C engineering, perhaps because of enormous manufacturing and production industries. There are very few industries in Bangladesh which are fully automated and due to which export of deliverables from these industries areunable to compete with global marketplace in terms of cost, time and quality.
If we take an example of Bangladesh’s oil and gas sector, we can see there are only a few production units which are entirely automatised. Lack of having fully automatised systems in the upstream and downstream production units has resulted in less production in average production capability per day against daily consumption.
The oil and gas exploration, production and transmission companies will take initiatives to build the automated integrated network from the exploration and production units to cross over and consumer transmission units. This will eventually help to optimise the complete process of oil and gas export business and consumer distribution processof demand supply within the country.
I&C product manufacturers and I&C system integrators can collaborate to establish the infrastructure and strengthening the core competencies of this business which will help the industries of this country to earn a space in the global marketplace with low cost and enhanced quality products. Industrial and production engineering can play a vital role to establish the interface between industries and I&C system integrators.
Initiatives to start the I&C business will also help to establish the backward linkage industry such as manufacturing of semiconductor products, electronic products, control cables, etc. which will in turn facilitate growth of economy of the country in several ways. It might open the door of the business of exporting low cost electronic consumer products from Bangladesh to the entire world. This approach will also contribute significantly to reduce unemployment of skilled manpower and will create opportunities for the certified technicians, diploma engineers and graduate engineers.
Eventually, the country will see a diversified business environment in terms of modernisation of the industries, accelerated production milestones, improved quality, optimisation of cost and consistency in growth, sustainability, strong bilateral relationship with export countries, creation of opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors, etc.
* Chandradhar Prasad is assistant manager, business development, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) UAE