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HomeISAPublicationsInTechMagazine2008/MarSpecialSection:Networking:Bestpracticesforprocessinstrumentationcabling

March 2008
Special section: Networking

Best practices for process instrumentation cabling


Connectivity glues the network together; Cabling, grounding, cable routing, and
the mitigation of noise and interference
Fast Forward
Propergroundinghierarchymitigatessignalnoiseandinterference.
Racewayssuchasconduitsandtrayshavetogroundatbothends.
Thetwo(AC,DC)isolatedmastergroundbusbarsshouldconnecttotheplantgroundinggrid.

By Saeed M. AL-Abeediah
Thehealthandeffectivenessofanyplant'sProcessAutomationSystem(PAS)reliesonmanyfactors.

AmongthesefactorsistheproperselectionofPAScomponents,seamlessintegration,controlschemes,controlsysteminstallation,andlastbutnotleast,properelectricalinstallation
andconnectivityoffieldinstrumentationdevices.

Thislastfactor,whichgluestheentirePASsystemtogether,involvescabling,grounding,cablerouting,andmitigationofexternalinfluencessuchasnoiseandinterference.
Thebestpracticesfordealingwithprocessinstrumentationcablingandthehealthandintegrityofinstrumentationloopsmirrorstherequirementsstipulatedinvariousapplicable
industrystandardssuchasNFPA70,IEEE518,APIRP552,PIPPCCEL001,andSaudiAramcoEngineeringstandards.

Wewilllookattheclassesofinstrumentationcircuitsandwiringsuitableforeachclass,signalnoises,techniquesthatminimizetheimpactofnoiseandinterferenceoninstrument
signals,andconcludewithaproposedprocessautomationgroundingschemethatPASvendorshelpeddevelop.
Theloadsidewiringsystem
Theremotecontrol,signaling,andpowerlimitedcircuitisdefinedinNFPA70astheportionofthewiringsystembetweentheloadsideoftheovercurrentdeviceorthepowerlimited
supplyandallconnectedequipment.
Thesecircuitsareinthreeclasses.
ItisimportanttonotemostofinstrumentationsignalsfallundertheClass2circuit,exceptforthe120Vacand110Vdcloops,whichareClass1circuits.Somemayarguethe120
Vacand110VdcsignalsfitbetterunderClass3.However,unlessthepowersupplyisClass3,theindustrypracticeistocategorizethemasClass1.
Insomefacilities,thechoiceistouseClass1wiringacrosstheboard.Thisavoidssignalcategorizationissues.Thismaynotbecosteffective,butitisdefinitelysafer.
Howdoesthewiringforvariouscircuitclassesdiffer?
Thewiringrequirementsvary.Forexample,forClass1circuits,acablewith600Vinsulationratingisthechoice,whereasacablewithaninsulationof300VisrequiredforClass2.
Whenthesecircuitsareinclassifiedareassuchasoil,gas,andpetrochemicalfacilities,NFPA70mandatesadditionalcablingrequirementsbeyondtheinsulationratings.
Oneshouldusespecialcabletypeswithspecificmarkingfortheseloops.Herearethecabletypessuitableforeachcircuit,assumingtheinstallationisinaclassifiedarea.

Signalnoiseandinterference
Moderndigitalinstrumentsprovetobemoresensitivetonoiseandinterferenceswhencomparedwiththeoldanaloginstrumentationdevices.Inaddition,moderncontrolsystems
arealsomoresensitivetoanysignaldistortionwhencomparedwitholdsingleloopcontrollers.Thisdictatesavoidingoldwiringpracticesandtechniquesthatmayallowthetransfer
ofnoiseintothecontrolloops.Beforeweaddressfactorsnecessarytominimizesignalinterference,itisworthwhiletolistsomeofthecommontypesofsignalnoiseandinterference.
Magneticcoupling:Thistypeofcouplingisalsoknownasinductivecoupling.Theinterferencemagnitudeisproportionaltothemutualinductancebetweenthecontrolloopandthe
sourceofinterferencecurrent.Suchnoiseisouttherewhenseveralwiresofdifferentcircuitsaretogetherinparallelrunsinthesamecableorinraceways.
Electrostaticcoupling:Thiscouplingisalsocapacitivecouplingbecausethemagnitudeoftheinterferenceisproportionaltothecapacitancebetweenacontrolleadandasourceof
interferenceornoisevoltage.Itissimilartothemagneticcouplinginthesensethatitmanifestsprimarilyinparallelwiring.Thelengthoftheparallelwiringexacerbatestheeffectof

thenoise.WeseethismoreoftenwithparallelACdiscrete(switching)circuits,especiallywhenthelooplengthsexceed1,000feet.Itisworthwhiletonotethatinsomeliterature,they
callthisphenomenon'distributedcapacitance.'
Electromagneticcoupling:Thisproblemoccurswhencontrolcircuitsroutwithintheelectromagneticradiationprofileofinterferencesourcesthatradiateelectromagneticenergy
duringtheirnormaloperation.Examplesofsuchsourcesareradiotransmitters,televisionstations,communicationequipment,ACmotors,andexposedpowertransmissionlines.
BasedonIEEE518,thevoltagesinducedbyelectromagneticcouplingwecall'nearfieldeffects'becausetheinterferenceisclosetotheinterferencesource.Theeffectofsuchnoise
isdependantonthesusceptibilityofthecontrolsystemandthestrengthoftheproducedelectromagneticfield.
Commonimpedancecoupling:Thistypeofnoisecommonlyoccurswhenmorethanonecircuitsharescommonwiring,suchaswhenacommonreturnleadwireisusedformultiple
fielddevicessuchsolenoidsorrelays.ThistypeofnoiseisalsocommonwhentryingtoconsolidatethecommonsforDCSorPLCloopsinonewire.Thelengthofthesharedwiring
aggravatessuchnoise.
Commonmode:Thistypeofnoisemanifestsprimarilybecauseofdifferentgroundingpotentialsatvariouslocationsoftheplant.Itsometimesoccursevenifthereceivinginstruments
orinputmodulehasahighcommonmoderejectionrating.Itismorecommonwhenshieldsarenotproperlyconnectedorwhentheyconnectatmorethanoneplace.Itismore
prevalentinthermocoupleloops,especiallywhenthethermocoupleisagroundedtype.

Reducingsignalinterference
Althoughcompleteeliminationofnoisemaynotbepracticalinallcases,therearewiringtechniquesthatwillhelpreducenoiseanditsimpactontheoverallhealthoftheloops.
Thesetechniquesincludepropercableconstruction,classificationofsignalsintospecificsusceptibilitylevels,signalsegregation,signalseparation,andpropergrounding.
Cableconstruction:Asaruleofthumb,itishighlyrecommendedtwistedandindividuallyshieldedpairsortriadsbeutilizedforallanalogsignalssuchas420mA,thermocouple
(T/C),millivoltsignals,RTD,straingauges,andpulses.Inaddition,thesamecableconstructionshouldworkandserveforalltruedigitalsignals.Forproperprotection,theshield
coverageshouldbe100%.
Fordiscretesignals(on/off)suchasprocessswitches,limitswitches,relaycontacts,solenoidcircuits,andindicationlights,oneshouldusetwistedpairs.Anoverallshieldisfinefor
multipair/triadcables,providedtheoverallshielddrainwirecutsoffatthejunctionboxandgroundsoutatthemarshallingcabinet.
Inallcases(exceptforgroundedT/C),theshielddrainwiresshallbecutandtapedinthefield,andgroundedatthemarshallingcabinets.Itisvitaltoensuretheshielddrainwires
terminateproperlyanddrainwiresfordifferentloopsdonottoucheachotherwithinthejunctionboxesormarshallingcabinets.
Classificationofwiringbasedonnoisesusceptibilitylevel(NSL):IEEE518classifiedwiringlevelsintofourmajorclassesornoisesusceptibilitylevels.WeatSaudiAramco
developedaslightlymodifiedcategorizationtosimplifysegregationandseparation.TheIEEENSLlevelssettledintothreelevelsbasedonourpracticalexperiences.
Level1:Hightomediumsusceptibilitywithanalogsignalsoflessthan50Vanddiscreteinstrumentsignalsoflessthan30V.Examplesofthesesignalsare:
Foundationfieldbus
420mAand420mAwithHART
RTD
Thermocouple
Millivolt/pulse
Discreteinputandoutputsignals,e.g.,pressureswitches,valvepositionlimitswitches,indicatinglights,relays,solenoids,andthelike
Allwiringconnectedtocomponentsassociatedwithsensitiveanaloghardwarelikeastraingauge

Level2:Lowsusceptibilitywithswitchingsignalsgreaterthan30V,analogsignalsgreaterthan50V,and120240ACfeederslessthan20amps.Examplesofthislevelare:
DiscreteinputandoutputDCsignalslikepressureswitches,valvepositionlimitswitches,indicatinglights,relays,solenoids,andothers
DiscreteinputandoutputACsignalsincludingpressureswitches,valvepositionlimitswitches,indicatinglights,relays,solenoids,andthelike
120240ACfeedersoflessthan20amps

Level3:PowerACandDCbusesof01000Vwithcurrentsof20800amps
SignalsegregationIninstrumentationcabling,itisagoodpracticetosegregatevarioussignalsfromeachother.Foroptimumsegregation,eachtypeofsignal(withineachNSL)shall
transmitondedicatedcablesandrouttodedicatedjunctionboxes.
Forexample,420mAsignalsshallroutonseparatecablesfromallothersignalsunderNSL1.Thesameappliesonallothersignaltypes.Fromthejunctionboxestothecontrol
room,thecablesforeachNSLlevelcansharethesamecabletrayortrench.

Theycanalsosharethesamemarshallingcabinetprovidedthecablesgetenoughairandadequateterminalstripidentificationsareinplace.
Inaddition,allemergencyshutdownsignalsshouldhavetheirowncables,junctionboxes,andmarshallingcabinets.Theyalsohavetobesegregatedbasedonsignaltypeas
discussedabove.
SeparationbetweendifferentNSL:TherecommendedseparationdistancesarefromIEEE518andPIPstandardPCCEL001.Itisimportanttonotethezeroseparationdistances
betweensignalsofthesameNSLdonotmeandifferentsignalswithinthesameNSLcanusethesamecable.Separatecablesmustcarryandservedifferentsignalseveniftheyare
ofthesameNSL.
Commonreturnwireformultiplesignals:Utilizingacommonwireformultiplesignalsisacommonbadwiringpracticethatresultsinmanycovertnoiseproblems.Thiswiringpractice
iscommoninwiringmultiplesolenoidsassociatedwithequipment,MOVwiring,relays,andinsomecasesinDCSorPLCloops.
Thetemptationtousesuchwiringfindssupportersespeciallywhendesigningorexecutingprojectsorwhenthereareinhouseprojectsthatwouldutilizesparewiring.Itwouldbe
justifiedbasedoncostsavingsbutalwayshasanegativeimpactontheintegrityoftheassociatedloops.
Toprotectagainstcommonimpedancecoupling,eachsignalshouldhaveitsownreturnwireextendingfromthesourcetothedestination.Avoidusingoneortworeturnwiresfor
multiplesignals.
Processautomationsystem
Inautomationsystems,propergroundingplaysasignificantroleintheoverallhealthandintegrityofprocesssignals.Itprotectstheautomationsystemsfrompotentialdamagesdue
tosurges,voltagefluctuations,lightning,andshortcircuits.
Inaddition,propergroundinghierarchyhelpsmitigatesignalnoisesandinterferencesbyprovidingalowresistancepathfortheseunwantedvoltagesandcurrentsthatcouldresult
insafetyhazardsordegradationtoprocesscontrolsignals.Whenattendingtofieldproblemsassociatedwithsignalnoise,erraticspikes,orinterferenceproblems,wefoundthe
majorityoftheseproblemsstemmedfrompoorgrounding.
Toensurepropergroundingofinstrumentationsystems,onemustfollowacleargroundingscheme.Oneshouldcarefullyevaluatetheoverallgroundingsystemwhendiagnosinga
problemorwhendesigningfornewplants.Theseareasaregroundinginthefield,interconnectionwiring,andgroundingwithincentralcontrolorprocessinterfacebuildings.
Groundinginthefield:Inthefield,theenclosuresofallinstrumentdeviceshavetoconnecttoground,typicallytheplantoverallgroundinggrid,orbondtoanelectricallyconductive
structurethatisconnectedtothegrid.Racewayssuchasconduitsandtrayshavetogroundatbothends.
Handlingofshielddrainwires:Oneshouldproperlycutandtapetheshieldanditsdrainwireinthefield,neartheinstrument.Fromthefieldinstrumentsallthewaytothemarshalling
cabinets,theshielddrainwiresshouldbetreatedandterminatedsimilartothesignalwires.
Exposedpartsofthedrainwireswithinjunctionboxesormarshallingcabinetsshouldbeinsideinsertionjacketstoprotectagainstthepossibilityofmultipledrainwirestouchingeach
other.Oncetheloopreachesthemarshallingcabinet,theshielddrainwireshavetoconsolidateandterminateattheDCandshieldgroundingbusbar.
Inaddition,allsparepairsortriadsextendingbetweenthefieldjunctionboxesandmarshallingcabinetsshouldterminateatbothends.Insomecases,itwouldbeusefultoground
thesparewiringinthemarshallingcabinetstominimizepotentialnoisepickup.
Groundingincontrolorprocessinterfacebuildings:Inthecontrolroomorprocessinterfacebuildings,theprocessautomationsystemcabinetsandmarshallingcabinetsmustbe
equippedwithtwogroundingbusbarsoneforACandoneforDCcommonandshielddrainwires.TheDCandshieldgroundingbusbarshallbeelectricallyisolatedfromthe
cabinetstructure.
AllshielddrainwiresandDCcommonwiresmustmergeandconnecttotheisolatedbusbars.Itisvitaltoensureshielddrainwiresgroundatoneend,typicallyinthemarshalling
cabinets.Groundingthematbothendsmayresultingroundloops,whichhappentobeoneofthemaincausesofsignalnoise.
TheisolatedDCandshieldgroundingbusbarswithinallcabinetsshouldthenbeconsolidateintoamasterinstrumentgroundingbusbarwithinthatbuilding.
Similarly,allACbusbarswithinthesecabinetsshouldcometogetheratamastersafetygroundbusbarwithinthebuilding.

Thetwomastergroundbusbarsshouldthenbeconnectedtotheplantoverallgrid.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


SaeedM.ALAbeediah(saeed.abeediah@aramco.com)isaseniorengineeringconsultantintheprocessandcontrolsystemsdepartmentandPID/instrumentationunitatSaudi
Aramco.

RESOURCES
Problemsolversinsignalconditioning
www.isa.org/link/SigConSolve
Impactonthebottomline
www.isa.org/link/Impact2003
SaudiAramcoEngineeringStandard,ElectricalSystemsforInstrumentation,2007.
IEEE518,GuidefortheInstallationofElectricalEquipmenttoMinimizeElectricalNoiseInputstoControllersfromExternalSources
PIPStandard#PCCEL001,ConstructionIndustryInstitute,UniversityofTexasatAustin,1999.