Hazardous Area Touchscreen Panel PCs for Drilling Rig, Oil Refineries, and Pipeline Transport Applications


The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting (often by oil tankers and pipelines), and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline (petrol). Petroleum (oil) is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and plastics. The industry is usually divided into three major components: upstream, midstream and downstream. AIS safety hazards Zone 2 Class 1 Division 2 touch screen panel PCs and HMIs which are primarily designed for the volatile and harsh environments of the Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical manufacturing industries; Oilfield Equipment & Services, Drilling Rig Systems, Oil Refineries, and Pipeline Transport remote monitoring & control panel applications that provide accurate, economical, intuitive and user-friendly systems control, operation and monitoring.

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Vital to the well-being of global and industrial economies, oil and gas accounts for 32% to 53% of the world’s energy consumption. The Oil & Gas industry in total represents a staggering $4 trillion dollars in revenue annually. Exploration, extraction, refining, transporting and marketing petroleum products are the primary global processing segments of the petroleum industry.  Fuel oil and gasoline (petrol) make up the largest volume of products the oil and gas industry.  Petroleum or oil is also a key raw material for the manufacturing and processing of many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides and plastics.

Divided into three major categories, the oil and gas industry is comprised of the upstream, midstream and downstream market segments.  It is important to that some midstream applications are combined into or with downstream segments. Each of these segments defines and represents the activities, processes and the products derived or end result.

Petroleum Industry: Upstream Category

ATEX IECEx Zone 2 Class 1 Div 2 Panel PC for Drilling Rig HMI ApplicationsExploration, development and production of crude oil or natural gas, offshore or onshore massive, drilling rigs and platforms represent this sector. It primarily involves drilling and operating wells that recover and bring crude oil and/or natural gas to the surface. It also includes searching for potential new reservoirs of crude oil underwater or natural gas fields.

Over the last decade, developments of new technologies and methods used to extract methane, coal seams and liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been a significant to the Upstream category.

Petroleum Industry: Midstream Category

ATEX IECEx Zone 2 Class Div 2 Panel PC for Pipeline Transport Applications The Midstream category includes the transportation sector. Transport by pipeline, rail, barge or truck are the primary means of moving the raw crude and gases. Midstream operations include some elements of the upstream and downstream sectors. Pipelines and other transport systems can be used to move crude oil from production sites to refineries and deliver the various refined products to downstream distributors.

Petroleum Industry: Downstream Category

ATEX IECEx Zone 2 Class Div 2 Panel PC for Oil Refineries HMI ApplicationsThe downstream segment is the sector that reaches consumers by delivering products such as gasoline or petrol, jet fuel, heating oil, lubricants, waxes, asphalt, natural gas as well as hundreds of petrochemicals.  This sector is involved in the refining of crude and purifying of natural gas as well as the distribution of these products.  In short, it’s how consumers fill their vehicles with gasoline for the everyday commute to work and daily travels. 

Pipeline Transportation

ATEX IECEx Zone 2 Class Div 2 Panel PC for Pipeline Transport Remote Monitoring Applications As the name indicates, pipeline transportation is the transport of materials, primarily liquid, gas or air via a pipeline.  It is probably the most common and economical method for transporting large quantities of oil, refined oil or natural gas over land. Natural gas is methane and is found in nature mixed with other gases, mainly propane and butane.

In oil and gas pipeline applications, it is very common to control the output of variable torque loads such as those found in pumps, fans, and blowers by throttling their input or output.  Here HMI and industrial display solutions can be utilized to control, program and monitor supporting automation equipment and systems.

Safety & Environmental

In the 19th century electrical equipment was first introduced into industry and households.  It wasn’t long before some fire and protection safety was needed.  With the advent of methane and coal dust in hard coal mining, the basics explosion protection regulations and safety standards began. Today, electrical safety and fire and explosion prevention has grown into a tremendously deep and complex matter. The topic is surrounded by a multitude of standards, regulations, codes and legislation established by countries, governing bodies, associations and testing centers.

In the oil and gas industry, in areas or locations where flammable gases, vapor or combustible dust can form or build-up to a sufficient volume or quantity, dangers such as fires and explosions can occur and risk harming personnel or damaging equipment. These locations are deemed as hazardous areas or Hazlocs, and require special considerations regarding the engineering, design, manufacturing and installation of electrical equipment by OEMs/ODMs. 

In order to be specified for use in oil and gas facilities and plant operations and/or supply equipment to this industry, it is paramount that all equipment undergoes testing, adheres to regulations and meets all the proper approvals and codes.  In North America, the class/division system is more prevalent, and in Europe and other parts of the world, the zone system is more commonly used. Each system varies by language and categorical definitions, but essentially they both estimate the probability, duration and/or amount of gases and/or dust present in the particular location’s atmosphere and overall goals are the same.

Industrial Automation & Control

Industrial automation and control systems are used in the oil and gas industry by companies operating some of the world’s largest and most complex industrial plants, such as oil refineries, power stations (both fossil fuel and nuclear) and petrochemical plants.  This equipment is used to control both discrete and process applications throughout most every aspect of remote operation and production regarding oil & gas products.

 One critical component of an automation system is the operator interface used to the control system by a controls or plant engineer at an oil and gas plant operation. This is the space where interaction between humans and machines occurs. The goal of this interaction is effective operation and control of the machine on the user's end, and feedback from the machine, which aids the operator in making operational decisions.

Sometimes referred to as the Human Machine Interface (HMI), Graphical Operator Interface (GUI) or Operator Interface Terminal (OIT), there are many variations of these visualization tools and systems. They can be as basic as simple text-based or graphical displays, to fully integrated, HMI panel PCs or HD and multi-touch industrial-grade display used control, diagnostics and monitoring.  As an example, and just one of many applications possibilities in oil & gas, an HMI can be used to provide diagnostics and information about motor performance and enable oil and gas users to perform preventative maintenance before damage occurs to motors or connected equipment.

Controlling and Monitoring Processes and Automation Equipment at Industrial Plants, Oil & Gas Refineries, Oilfield Equipment & Services

Touch Screen Panel PC In Hazardous Areas Classified LocationsAccessing critical process information and controlling your remote systems is not an easy job. Being consistently aware and on top of your all processes, the functionality of your equipment and system effectiveness and readiness are not easy tasks. It presents many challenges in manpower allocation, efficiency and cost to oil & gas end-users. The difficulty to access remote locations both physically and virtually complicate the challenges immensely, especially in hazardous locations which makes the task even more daunting. AIS’s remote automation, control, monitoring and HMI solutions make this all possible. Access to remote real-time production information, remote diagnosis of all equipment and processes and browser-based remote monitoring/operation of all HMI screens are a few key benefits that AIS HMI solutions have to offer.

With increasing pressure to improve operational performance, meet environmental specifications and overcome rising energy costs, oil and gas operations must efficiently and securely monitor and control entire processes across local and remote locations. Supported by their complete offering of Ex explosion protection, ATEX and intrinsically safe HMIs and industrial monitor solutions, AIS is dedicated to serving oil and gas operations and achieving their mission critical objectives in accordance with 49 CFR Part 192 - TRANSPORTATION OF NATURAL AND OTHER GAS BY PIPELINE: MINIMUM FEDERAL SAFETY STANDARDS.

  • As of the effective date, these regulations apply to (1) existing facilities, (2) existing facilities that undergo modification, and (3) new facilities. An exception is noted for human machine interfaces (HMI) that are not modified, replaced, or installed new. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities are not covered by these amendments. Thus, there are no changes to 49 CFR Part 192/193/195.
  • AIS HMI and visualization solutions are ideal for applications requiring autonomous control and monitoring systems. Some common applications, AIS has experience applying its solutions to include oil and gas wells, pipelines distributed over wide geographical areas and wide-area co-generation systems to name just a few.
  • AIS origins begin over decade ago, as they now have the expertise in the regulation and control of operations at large-scale industrial plants such as oil refineries that require superior reliability, continuous control and monitoring and system continuity over the entire lifetime of the facility.

Oil & Gas Application Benefits Utilizing AIS HMI & Visualization Solutions:

  • Overall improved operational effectiveness and decision making thanks to more visible and centralized processes
  • Improved safety and overall performance driven by the new Experian user interface, including the use of displays based on ASM philosophies for faster operator detection and quick resolution of any issues that may arise.
  • Higher return on investment (ROI) of existing hardware by keeping all field wiring and I/O intact with controller replacement.
  • Increased production and efficiency due to a better understanding of data and ability to interpret it into actionable information
  • Communication of data across the network and information reporting
  • Empowers HMI project specialists to act as technology leads or project execution leads for both small projects and large projects involving implementation of customized complex and/or standard automation engineering solutions.

Drilling Systems HMI and Visualization

ATEX Ex Zone 2 Class 1 Div 2 Panel PC for Drilling Rig HMI ApplicationsHMI and visualization solutions for drilling rig applications from AIS help oil & gas end-users deal with and solve the several common problems they confront with in their operations including: the lack of experienced labor and personnel to control and monitor the drilling equipment, the need to reduce costs and have better metrics, minimize operator errors and improve overall operator safety. Utilizing AIS’s HMI open system architecture will improve the overall maintainability of their site.

Application Possibilities with AIS HMIs and Third Party Enterprise & SCADA Software Tools

  • With AIS HMIs and the right programming tools or software packages, machine operators will easily find information only relevant to their job or task. For example, an Oil Rig and Oil Well drill operator may be only interested in viewing information regarding the drilling process, while a service technician may only need to see the error log of the control system. Information can be managed so that only the necessary information will be displayed to the appropriate personnel.
  • Use AIS HMIs to recreate a graphical representation or a more “control panel like” experience on the interface so that operators can be more comfortable and effective.  For example, with Oil Rig and Oil Well drills, information relating to the diesel motor’s RPM value, drilling speed and oil pressure can be displayed while in drilling mode as gauges in the user interface. While the machine operator focuses on monitoring the boom position and the drill penetration speed while drilling, they may need to glance at gauges for verification. In the upright position the gauge’s needles let the operator know that the machine is functioning as expected. In each gauge, there is additional range drawn in gauges that shows the normal operating area.
  • Machine operators are extremely focused while drilling, so it is advisable to place any “feedback” information close to the area of focus for the operator. For example, if the operator’s drill gets stuck, the light or user interface message informing about him about the situation should be located so that it is in close proximity to the drilling controls. Now the operator is likely to take a glimpse at the drilling controls, so he will be alerted to the situation and act promptly.
  • For Process Control & Rig Instrumentation HMI applications, operations personnel can set upper and lower performance parameters, or pre-set timed operations, for equipment that previously had to be manually operated and monitored. Benefits include keeping workers out of potentially hazardous environments, reduced personnel requirements and improved equipment performance. A data-acquisition system and advanced driller’s monitoring system can accurately measure, monitor and display all drilling variables in real time.

Oil Refinery HMI and Visualization

  • ATEX Ex Zone 2 Class Div 2 Panel PC for Oil Refineries HMI ApplicationsAIS HMI and visualization solution enhance productivity and energy efficiency of oil refineries, terminals and downstream complexes.
  • Your HMI and visualization investment is future proof and safe when you invest in AIS hardware and technologies. AIS offers an affordable migration path for upgrades and you can depend on AIS to handle all your future hardware and OS designs. We have a strong grasp of the latest guidelines for safety and efficiency and will implement them in your new HMI design, while maintaining an interface that's comfortable for your team and delivers the features, performance and productivity required.  Our U.S. based HMI design and engineering teams will work with you to meet your goals and assure total satisfaction.  Extensive experience in all aspect of development and production combined with our size allow us to offer you very competitive pricing.
  • Our HMIs solutions allow your personnel to perform and function at their highest levels of performance. Extended operator workplace (EOW) provides an ergonomic HMI for the process, plant assets and automation, electrical and telecoms aspects, thereby also improving productivity.

Pipeline Transport HMI and Visualization & Regulations Adherence

ATEX EX Zone 2 Class Div 2 Panel PC for Pipeline Transport Applications AIS engineer and design HMI and Visualization for pipeline transport applications in accordance with the latest pipeline safety standards.  The regulations call for specific improvements in the control room and change management, including compliance with American Petroleum Institute’s API 1165 and API 1168 best practices for control room management. They specify improvements in SCADA HMI, pipeline alarm management, business process management (BPM), field operator workflow, pipeline operator training, shift handover, documentation and auditing. 

Hazardous materials Pipeline Operators must comply with Risk-Reduction Regulations. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued regulations 49 CFR parts 195.446 and 192.631 to protect people and the environment from the risks inherent in the transportation of hazardous materials. PHMSA requires companies to implement and document measures that reduce risk associated with controller fatigue; precisely define roles and responsibilities of control room staff; and provide information, training and processes necessary to help fulfill these responsibilities.

The regulations apply to both owners and operators of liquid pipelines and gas pipelines. All control rooms are covered that contain equipment that permits the manual intervention of the operation of the pipeline. This includes local control rooms or panels to the extent that the safety effects of operational error are similar to regular control rooms. Control rooms and control areas that are “view only” are exempt. Also, gas pipelines that service less than 250,000 customers and/or lack compression equipment are subject to the requirements only for fatigue management, validation, compliance and documentation.

HMI Pipeline Transport Application Possibilities & Considerations

To support the pipeline’s technical engineering and operating personnel, AIS provides a comprehensive range of technical engineering and services to support their efforts and needs. AIS HMIs provide pipeline visualization and other monitoring capabilities at pumping stations.

  • Block valve stations are sectioning points of transport pipelines at remote sites for pipeline automation applications. During normal operation, mode valves are in the “open” position. When a block valve needs to be closed, pipeline operation must be stopped. Valve line closures are required to perform a pressure test of the pipeline to find small leaks, to isolate a leakage between two block line valves and for safety reasons during routine pipeline maintenance. Along the entire length of the pipeline, block valves will be remotely monitored and controlled using AIS HMI, advanced real-time HMI processors designed to support complex remote applications.
  • Information systems have also been introduced into different areas of pipeline industry activity. They add to the basic information of transportation (including SCADA and HMI) systems that collect and analyze information for integrity area, risk analysis tools and GIS.
  • The rule amendment summary states: “… Under the final rule, affected pipeline operators must define the roles and responsibilities of controllers and provide controllers with the necessary information, training, and processes to fulfill these responsibilities. Operators must also implement methods to prevent controller fatigue. The final rule further requires operators to manage HMI alarms, assure control room considerations are taken into account when changing pipeline equipment or configurations, and review reportable incidents or accidents to determine whether control room actions contributed to the event. It further requires the statutorily mandated human factors management. These regulations will enhance pipeline safety by coupling strengthened control room management with improved controller training and fatigue management HMI Displays. “Pipeline controllers must have adequate and up-to-date information about the conditions and operating status of the equipment they monitor and control…. “Operators need to assure that SCADA systems perform this important function correctly, and that the information is displayed in a manner that facilitates controller understanding and recognition of abnormal operating conditions
  • To prepare for the referenced requirements, operators should review each aspect of the following areas of their enterprise-wide SCADA: alarm management, control room management, documentation and procedures, HMI displays, shift handover, fatigue management, change management and training.
  • The design is expected to follow API Recommended Practice 11656 that covers the appropriate hardware to consider so that the equipment is capable of delivering the needed speed of response and providing for appropriate ways for the controller to input commands. It also lays out the proper use of color, the design of clear overviews of the process, and display navigation to enable effective controller use. Additionally, other important guides for HMI designs have been adopted by industrial users.
  • The SCADA operator station performs any required data conversions, intermediate calculations, checks for unusual conditions which should be brought to the attention of a pipeline controller, and stores data for viewing, long-term archiving, and for use by advanced applications and open Field Bus protocols. Pipeline controllers interface with the SCADA operator/monitoring station through the graphical user interface (HMI) which allows them to view current or historical data, alarm messages, and issue controls to field equipment.
  • Pipeline SCADA systems cover a broad range from small to huge, relatively simple to very complex, and important to extremely critical for both financial and safety reasons. A small SCADA system may be comprised of a local control/monitoring station, which also supports the HMI Station, to handle a few hundred points in a non-critical environment. A large SCADA system may be comprised of triple-redundant sets of servers and Hybrid-Controllers, in a distributed configuration, spread out over multiple geographic locations along with numerous multi-headed HMI workstations, support staff, and management. Factors such as point count, data acquisition rates, and availability (up-time) requirements determine the size, complexity, and redundancy of the pipeline control system.
  • In an Abnormal Situation Management (ASM) consortium traditional interface study, improving the human machine interaction (HMI) in designing the operator’s user interface resulted in 41% less time for the operators to deal with events like leaks, power failures, equipment malfunction and equipment failures in an unstable plant (Errington, 2005).

Hazardous Area Certification ATEX Zone 2 Div 2 HMI Panel PCAIS offers 15-22" HMI panel PCs or touch screen operator interfaces with international approvals for operation and monitoring in hazardous areas with modular designs. AIS premium and standard modular panel PCs are constructed with completely sealed stainless steel type 4/4X, IP 65/66, NEMA 4/4X enclosure with environmental ratings (UL 50 or IEC 529) on the entire HMI system including fully sealed I/O ports. The touch panel PC supports wide operating temperatures from -20 to +60°C, comes with pre-installed Windows 10 IoT Enterprise (LTSB), Windows 7, or Linux operating system, and is powered by Intel® Core™ i5-6300U (Premium IEx Series), Intel® Celeron® N2930 (Standard IEx Series), or Intel Atom® N2600 (Compact IEx Series) processor.

AIS offers OSHA’s NEC Class I Division 2, Groups A, B, C, D, T4, CENELEC’s ATEX 94/9/EC Zone 2, IEC’s IECEx Zone 2, Ex nA and Ex ic certification on its hazardous locations panel PCs and open HMI platforms which are primarily designed for the volatile and harsh environments of oil, gas, chemicals, and oilfield equipment and services.

Premium HMI Panel IEx

The Premium HMI panel PC (15-22") with Intel® Core™ i5-6300U processor (3M Cache, up to 3.00 GHz) is designed and certified to meet NEC/CEC Class/Division, ATEX Directive 94/9/EC, and IECEx Zone standards for increased safety in Division 2 and Zone 2 operator control and monitoring applications. AIS offers UL Class 1 Division 2, Groups A, B, C, D, T4, ATEX 94/9/EC Zone 2 Category 3, and IECEx Zone 2, Ex “nA” and Ex “ic”, T4 certification on its hazardous areas panel PC and open HMI platforms which are primarily designed for the volatile and harsh environments of oil, gas, chemicals, and petrochemical manufacturing industries used in drilling systems, control & monitoring, oilfield equipment & service applications. Learn more »

Standard HMI Panel IEx

The Standard HMI panel PC (15-22") with Intel® Celeron® processor N2930 (2M Cache, up to 2.16 GHz) is designed and certified to meet NEC/CEC Class/Division, ATEX Directive 94/9/EC, and IECEx Zone standards for increased safety in Division 2 and Zone 2 operator control and monitoring applications. AIS offers UL Class 1 Division 2, Groups A, B, C, D, T4, ATEX 94/9/EC Zone 2 Category 3, and IECEx Zone 2, Ex “nA” and Ex “ic”, T4 certification on its hazardous areas panel PC and open HMI platforms which are primarily designed for the volatile and harsh environments of oil, gas, chemicals, and petrochemical manufacturing industries used in drilling systems, control & monitoring, oilfield equipment & service applications. Learn more »

Compact HMI Panel IEx

The Compact HMI panel PC with Intel Atom® Processor N2600 (1M Cache, 1.6 GHz) is designed and certified to meet NEC/CEC Class/Division, ATEX Directive 94/9/EC, and IECEx Zone standards for increased safety in Division 2 and Zone 2 operator control and monitoring applications. AIS offers UL Class 1 Division 2, Groups A, B, C, D, T4, ATEX 94/9/EC Zone 2 Category 3, and IECEx Zone 2, Ex “nA” and Ex “ic”, T4 certification on its hazardous areas panel PC and open HMI platforms which are primarily designed for the volatile and harsh environments of oil, gas, chemicals, and petrochemical manufacturing industries used in drilling systems, control & monitoring, oilfield equipment & service applications. Learn more »