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Instrument earthing system shall consist of the following earth type:

- Electrical earthing (also called dirty earthing or Protective Earthing (PE))

- Instrument earthing (also called Reference Earth (RE))

- Intrinsically safe earthing

1. Electrical earthing is used to protect the power system, electrical equipment, and personnel

from electric shock.

How to do an electrical earthing?

- Armor of field instrument cable shall be terminated at cable gland.

- Armor of single and multi core cable going to junction box shall be terminated at cable

gland. If the junction box made from metal, then it only needs to connect the earth stud bolt to the nearest steel structure. If the junction box made from non metal, the earth stud bolt will be

located at the metal gland plates which have direct contact with the cable gland.

- Armor of single and multi core cable going inside or outside marshalling and system

cabinet shall be terminated and connected to a bus bar inside the cabinet. Each bus bar inside the cabinet will be connected to a grounding dispatcher by 35 mmsq cable (usually green – yellow stripped). This grounding dispatcher will collect all connection from individual bus bar and then connect it to a general electrical earth loop (to structure steel) by a 70 mmsq cable. In general

used, the earth bus bar is made from copper and has 1 ½” width and ¼” height.

2. Instrument earth

- The general principle of instrument earth is all individual shields (screen) and overall

shield (screen) of single or multi pair cable shall be isolated from electrical earthing and terminated at different bus bar. This instrument earth usually also called reference earth since it serve the reference point of the instrument loop (ground of internal electric circuit inside the


- Individual shield (drain wire) of single pair cable shall be terminated at earth or ground terminal block inside the instrument enclosure.

- Individual shield from analog single pair cable going inside the junction box shall be

terminated to terminal block. Individual shield from digital single pair cable going inside the junction box shall be terminated to terminal block and jump out each other then connect it to bus



Individual shield from multi pair cable going inside the junction box shall be also

terminated to terminal block match with the individual shield from single pair cable.

- Overall shield from multi pair analog cable going inside the junction box shall be

terminated to terminal block or bus bar (overall shield at analog cable doesn’t have a pair with the shield from single pair cable). Overall shield from multi pair digital cable going inside the

junction box shall be terminated to bus bar.

- All individual and overall shields (screen) from multi pair cable shall be terminated into respective instrument earth bus bar at marshalling cabinet.

- Instrument bus bar will be connected to grounding dispatcher by 25 mmsq (3AWG) green-

yellow stripped cable. From grounding dispatcher, it will be connected to main instrument earth

loop by 70 mmsq (00AWG) green-yellow stripped cable.

3. Intrinsically safe earthing

- Isolation and termination of IS field cable shields (screen) at field devices, junction boxes

and marshalling cabinets shall be done in the same manner as for instrument earth explained above. However the overall shield (screen) of multi pair cable for IS signals goes to marshalling cabinet shall be terminated individually and connected to its IS bus bar. The individual shield (screen) of this cable will be terminated directly to a galvanic isolator and then connected to the

respective IS bus bar.

The following maximum resistance limits shall be achieved after the instrument earthing system installed. This resistance is minimized as much as possible so the un-normal current can be safely grounded at steel structure.

- Between instrument earth bus bars and grounding dispatcher not greater than 0.5 ohm.

- Between electrical equipment frame and nearest local stud earth on structural steel not greater than 1 ohm.

- Between intrinsically safe installation and grounding dispatcher not greater than 0.5 ohm.

Some Question about Grounding System

Dear Dick,

I was working in a gas plant Construction project with ENI (Agip) where the DCS was by Yokogawa.

In the earthing principle by Yokogawa it was clearly shown that there were separate earths:

1.IE Electric Ground (Instrument Earth) 2.IPE Primary Earth Ground (Instrument Protective Earth) 3.PE Plant Earth Loop 4.ISE IS Electronic Ground (Intrinsically Safe Earth)

The first 2 earths had their own loop and they were galvanically connected to PE while ISE was totally separate and was not connected to PE.

Asking me, there must have been some sort of logic behind it, assuming Yokogawa and ENI do not do useless practices.




Hamid, Yokogawa was being very conservative. In the ideal, a grounding grid submersed in ground water provides a zero resistance between all grounding points, and cannot form ground loops between grounding points. If the grounding grid is not in ground water, then different grounding points may actually have resistance between them. If there is any resistance between grounding points, then ground loop currents may happen.

The Yokogawa practice is designed to keep ground loops formed by any imbalance in the electrical power wiring from finding a ground in the instrument system, if the ground points have any resistance between them. This is the situation for dry earth grounds, but is not necessary if the grounding points are all submerged in ground water.

Dick Caro


Hamid, First, check the requirements for earthing in an intrinsic safety system in your locally applicable standards. The IEC 60079 series requires a resistance of less than 1 ohm between the IS earth of a barrier system and the neutral point of the relevant AC power supply system.

This is to ensure that in the event of a short between the AC supply system and the low voltage feed to the barriers (on the safe side) the protection will operate and the voltage rise of the IS earth system during the fault will be within bounds. This requirement is usually met by a pair of largediameter earth connections between the IS earth and the neutral point or the earthing point for the power supply neutral.

The earth loop resistance can be checked by disconnecting one of the cables at one point and measuring the resistance across the break. IEC60079 also requires that IS cable screens be connected to the barrier earth. Secondly, the IS earth is usually also connected into the instrumentation system and needs to be connected to the instrument earth or common line. For EMC reasons, there must be only a single connection between the instrumentation earth system and any other services.

The best way to do this is to construct a tree with the root being a single connection to earth common to all power, IS, instrumentation. Power connections are one branch off this: instrumentation and IS another. The instrumentation and IS systems are separated at a single point.

Instrumentation earths should be further branched into digital and analogue sub systems. Any connection to the rest of the world by a physical connection into a water table or well or a rod driven into the soil does not really change this unless you are dealing with a power station, where earth faults on remote lines need to be taken into account. The metalwork on a site including enclosure boxes, motor frames, and pipe work needs to be bonded together to form an equipotential mesh and also connected to the site earth point.

However, there may be a large voltage difference on points connected to this equipotential mesh, and large currents circulating around it. Earthing is a topic fraught with mystical beliefs such as keeping instrumentation and power earths totally segregated yet physically connected. Go back to first principles and make sure the requirements are defined and satisfied.


All the separate grounds are typically connected together at the service point.