Since the earliest process units were built, CPI engineers have employed artificial intelligence to prevent losses. The expanding use of computer-based systems for process control has allowed the amount of intelligence applied in these expert systems to drastically increase. Standard methods for performing Expert System tasks are being formalized by numerous researchers in industry and academia. Work products from these groups include designs that present process hazards knowledge in a structured, hierarchical, and modular manner.
Advancements in programmable logic controller (PLC) technology have created systems with substantial computing power that are robust and fault tolerant enough to be used in safety critical applications. In addition, IEC 1131-3 standardized the programming languages available in virtually every new controller. The function block language defined in IEC 1131-3 is particularly well suited to performing modular tasks, which makes it an ideal platform for representing knowledge.
This paper begins by describing some of the advancements in knowledge-based systems for loss prevention applications. It then explores how standard IEC 1131-3 programming techniques can be used to build function blocks that represent knowledge of the hazards posed by equipment items. The paper goes on to develop a sample function block that represents the hazards of a pressure vessel, using knowledge developed in the API 14-C standard.