Modular Control Buildings Bring Flexibility To Remote Processing Sites

Mon, 03/18/2013 - 9:18am
Matt Hodson, President and CEO, Principal Technology Inc.

Pressures to reduce staff levels for onsite operations coupled with the increasing sophistication and expense of automation and control equipment have led to growing trend to use modular structures to house and protect sensitive process and automation controls. Modular process control buildings are a flexible solution for providing process automation and control and power distribution to remote industrial sites or oil and gas processing facilities. Alternatively, these buildings are also an excellent means to add control room capabilities to processing facilities where existing climate controlled space is minimal.

These modular E-buildings can be manufactured in a clean, modern factory environment with the highest quality control standards in place. Using an E-building simplifies the installation of complex control system equipment, motor controls, switch gear, or sensitive analytic equipment at processing facilities and remote sites. E-buildings can range from 10 to 13 feet wide, 10 feet high and up to 30 feet long or more to accommodate as much equipment as needed. For larger control rooms, modules can be combined, creating virtually unlimited configurations. The “plug-and-play” modules ship to the installation site with all the required equipment in place and fully tested so final placement and connection to power and field instruments is all that is required in order to become operational.

Modular E-buildings offer many advantages over standard control panel installations in remote sites. Equipment within an enclosed structure is more secure from theft or vandalism as well as the deteriorating effects of the weather. The buildings are constructed of 2”, 4” or 6” pre-insulated modular wall and roof panels and include HVAC systems to maintain optimal temperatures for the equipment and operations in the harshest environments. The structures can also include humidity control and dust mitigation to maintain ideal conditions and can be purged and pressurized for installation in hazardous areas. When it comes to operations and maintenance after the E-building is installed, field technicians appreciate the ability to work within a clean, sheltered, climate controlled environment. Within the larger structures there is even room to add a control station with operator interface terminal.

Built-in UPS backup systems are standard on the modular buildings, but they can also be equipped with their own self-contained power generators for installation at extremely remote locations. These E-buildings can also feature cellular booster antennas and wireless network access. These features facilitate off-site monitoring and trouble-shooting when it’s difficult for maintenance staff to access a site.

The ability to bring a modern control room environment, rather than merely erecting an outdoor control panel, to a processing site makes E-buildings an excellent choice. The modular structures protect expensive control equipment while providing a shelter for operators and maintenance staff. Large E-buildings are a cost effective method to add control room capacity to an existing processing plant with limited space or where on-site construction might be disruptive or even dangerous. Modularization provides virtually endless possibilities for control room configuration, size and future expansion while taking advantage of modern factory-based manufacturing processes.

Matthew S. Hodson, P.E., is president and CEO of Principal Technology Inc., a provider of total system solutions for natural gas, refining, chemical, process and manufacturing facilities based in Plano, Texas. Information on Principal Technology’s capabilities and services is available at Contact Matthew Hodson at



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