These are no ordinary times. Central bankers and finance ministers are working in concert but struggling to keep up with events. Along the way, many core assumptions about the merits of globalisation, markets, risk, and debt, long taken for granted in business, government, and academia, have come into question. One big shift already underway involves a far larger role for government in the economy, whether through outright ownership of former private-sector assets or tighter regulation. Also inevitable: massive changes in industry structures. Consolidation, effected both by bankruptcies or mergers, is already transforming financial services and seems bound to take place elsewhere as the impact of the credit crisis ripples through the real economy.
An integrated approach to automation project execution helps refiners quickly reach first and full production with the lowest possible risk, by proactively driving operations readiness, as well as incorporating information asset management and asset lifecycle management (ALM) needs. This holistic approach addresses plant-wide integration and optimisation at all enterprise levels (Fig. 1).
The concept of Integrated Main Automation Contractor (I-MAC) takes a three-dimensional approach in order to build upon the benefits of traditional MAC through (1) Project objectives of cost, schedule and risk (2) Operational and business readiness, ensuring that the asset is ready for flawless startup and reliable first year operations enabled by an effective information asset management creation and handover model and (3) Lifecycle sustainability through integrated lifecycle services to optimally support asset lifecycle management. The result is an integrated strategy that can extend from the field to the boardroom that delivers value during the entire life of an asset.
Through this approach, owners/operators and EPC firms can look forward to opportunities to create value in every project phase, such as: construction design savings; reduction in total installed cost; minimisation of change orders; shortened project schedule; smoother startup with fewer incidents; effective creation and handover of information asset management to operations; improved ROI through improved early production; sustained benefits of the lifecycle of the asset.
The I-MAC approach helps achieve benefits not only during project start-ups, but also during ongoing operations because of its enabling innovative technology and services. Benefits reach beyond reducing project risk and compressing the schedule, and extend into optimising the entire plant operations, business performance and automation lifecycle.
Design for Operational Excellence
Financial pressures and the ever-changing demands on process manufacturers due to product demand and changing specifications have been the driving forces behind major modernization projects and the integration of control technology and information systems. Capital projects are becoming riskier due to the demand on steel manufacturing facilities, lack of financing and/or credit, supplier consolidation and tighter credit markets magnified by the recent global financial crisis. This also affects the cost of capital and, as they become more averse to risk, companies have difficulty raising capital and may need to cancel or defer some investments. It is therefore understandable that the global crisis has many executives concerned about what the price of risk - the cost of capital - will mean for their strategic decisions in the near term.
New plants and expansions are taking too long to commission, there is poor handover to operations, ineffective handover of asset information, and sub-optimal operations once the plants are commissioned. Everyone is trying to figure out how to manage these risks but one thing is constant, industry executives are still demanding project, operations, and business results without excuses. Traditional project execution is not getting the job done. An integrated approach to automation project execution helps refiners quickly reach first and full production with the lowest possible risk.
Anytime a new industrial asset is built, the owner/operator normally outsources the building of his entire physical plant to one or more Engineering Procurement Contractors (EPCs). The automation scope included in the plant infrastructure normally covers Level's 1 and 2 of the 'Purdue Automation Architecture Model' which includes all field devices and control infrastructure.
Often this automation scope is then sub-contracted to a single specialty Main Automation Contractor or MAC. The MAC is typically responsible for the design, integration, implementation, testing, along with construction and commissioning support for the process control systems, safety instrumented systems, data networks, field instrumentation, and control centres, with the goal of providing the lowest installed cost, best delivery schedule, and lowest technical risk to the project. Completely separate from the EPC(s) scope of building out the actual plant, the customer himself must build out the business including advanced process applications, production management and supply chain applications, and ERP system. This often results in a decoupling of the overall automation architecture in the delivered project.
Additionally, more security threats (physical, cyber, port) are hitting operating assets from all directions. Who has overall ownership of protecting the asset from these threats?
The I-MAC concept focuses on safety, reliability, and efficiency while providing operational and business readiness from day one, wrapped in a safe and secure environment. It is a differentiated approach that can extend from the, 'field to ERP' or Level 1 - 5 for the asset lifecycle that delivers superior value.
The seven client roles or voices of the customer are critical to an automation supplier with an I-MAC scope and mindset. The supplier's role is to engage all of these client roles and understand their personal challenges, background, and business needs for this project.
The first three voices of project engineering, project management and procurement are 'voices of the traditional MAC customer'. These are very important voices; however the "voices of the I-MAC customer" are the other four voices and show the desire for a new approach.
Questions from the traditional MAC end-user can include:
- Project Engineering - can your products/system meet my technical specs?
- Procurement - What kind of project pricing, terms & condition benefits can you provide us?
- Project Management - Can you eliminate my cost and schedule risk of automation?
But, the end-user gaining value from an integrated approach considers these topics:
- Operations - Can the process achieve a flawless start-up with well trained operators? Can it help me achieve safe and reliable operations from day one?
- Plant Engineering & Maintenance - Is the technology robust, maintainable, and well documented? Is technical help immediate and of quality? Can you help me manage evolving technology over the next 15-30 years? Realising I have employee turnover, can you help me maintain staff competency?
- IT - Is it a good platform for integrating the data to the business applications? Is the network robust? What about wireless and cyber security?
- HSE - Can I-MAC help me ensure process safety, physical security, and port security? What about abnormal situation management?
- Plant Management - Can you deliver my project safely, under budget, ahead of schedule, with a flawless start-up, ensuring safety, reliability, and efficiency in lifecycle operations?
Reducing risk in completing complex greenfield and brownfield expansion projects, small projects, and migrations demands co-operation and aligned objectives between prime contractors, subcontractors, EPCs, and other suppliers. I-MAC begins with integrating and aligning the approach with the customers 'big picture' business objectives. This team approach, implemented early in front-end engineering development (FEED), is essential for resolving interface and scope issues to maximize results and minimize integration risks.
Through each project phase, Honeywell promotes a consultative approach to deliver on project and lifecycle priorities. A single point of accountability and contact for the entire facility automation scope can reduce communication failures, as well as risk, cost, and schedule management. It also provides for seamless integration between the parties involved.
The owner/operator's vision begins to be translated into outcomes and expectations very early in the project phase. Through concept and demand studies, the initial scope is defined with high level business requirements, a technology map and excepted outcomes. The next phase introduces workshops with all stakeholders in a discovery process to create a master automation plan, a system architecture and a deployment schedule.
Business and domain consulting drives the next front end engineering design phase to create a final scope and firm proposal before beginning execution and establishing ongoing lifecycle support.
A detailed project execution plan that incorporates stakeholder workshops prior to the detailed engineering phase reduces scope growth and project cost contingencies. There is rigorous and continuous identification, quantification and mitigation of project risks across the entire project systems, software and field instruments from project inception through commissioning.
Operational readiness incorporates ensuring employees have all the training, data and processes needed to safely operate the plant from day one.
One opportunity is to develop dynamic simulators and operator training system simulation (OTS) systems well ahead of typical schedules, which will in turn drive a faster startup, help avoid mishaps in operations, and help owner/operators achieve a faster ramp-up to full production capacity, as well as maintain a more reliable operation.
Steady state and dynamic simulation models can be collaboratively developed using models, tailored specifically for the processes being constructed. After plant design, these can be used to examine process unit design improvements and explore new operating regimes.
Operating training simulators can be preconfigured so that operators are trained ahead of plant start-up. Best in class graphics are interchangeable and only need to be built once for both simulation and OTS systems ensuring operational staff are familiar with the automation system prior to startup.
Early OTS development also allows operating and start-up procedures to be developed and validated against a live model.
Once validated, these procedures can be hard-coded into the automation system ensuring traceability and accountability. DCS base configuration can be tested and control loops pre-tuned against the training simulator to validate control strategies well in advance of plant start-up and reduce commission time.
Profit optimisation models, developed in the OTS training simulator, can be used to get an early start into advanced process control implementation. During plant start-up, the process units can be stabilised and brought up to full capacity faster than by conventional means.
The ability to connect the process model to process data and to the process controller allows a rigorous plant model to be used as an online optimiser, making it robust and fast to execute.
Another important aspect to the I-MAC concept is a strategic approach to applying wireless-enabled technology to help reduce time and cost of construction and commissioning.
Mobile workforce tools (Fig. 3), for instance, provide an easy way to automate operator and maintenance rounds around the refinery. Asset location technology can be used in both construction and in lifecycle operations to track the location of key assets during construction. This can drive construction efficiency of 4-7 days on large projects and can also reduce shrinkage of key equipment on site by an estimated 50-75 per cent.
Additionally, wireless tablet-PC technology help during commissioning and with operator interaction, once again providing refiners the opportunity to re-think their commissioning and operations work processes. It helps drive significant cost and schedule benefits by helping to develop more efficient, wireless-enabled work processes in both project and lifecycle operations.
Layered safety and security
Safety needs to be approached from a refinery-wide perspective, incorporating layers of safety, such as a secure process design, Abnormal Situation Management, and physical security. Robust safety technology, with integrated fire and gas detection, lowers the cost of safety and reduces the risk of incidents (Fig. 4).
With the design and implementation of an integrated refinery security solution, security technology can be equal to that at sensitive military, governmental, and private facilities around the world. Using the same solution platform as the technology, the security and control consoles share the same alarming and access structures, sharing information about the facility. This is especially useful during unexpected events at the refinery when notifications from events in the field can be received by both systems and a coordinated response can be launched. Digital video, again shared between the security and control systems, allows operations to be aware of any security breach and prepare to act appropriately. In smaller plants, operators can provide security monitoring during off-hours directly from the control system in the control room.
Any event related to security or operations, including process alarms, may also trigger digital video capture, using technology rather than people to initiate recording. Real-time tracking of assets and personnel throughout the facility will allow both operations and security to monitor movements from one zone to the next. Alarms can be triggered by motion, lack of motion, or on duress by using a duress button on the locator tag. This is especially useful during an incident or emergency, when all personnel can be mustered at various points around the plant. Mustering lists are generated automatically.
Consider the entire lifecycle
Most owner/operators look to a lifecycle model with certain objectives in mind which include the ability to accelerate revenue while reducing costs and improve quality with the ability to also adhere to standards or other compliance metrics. The I-MAC approach provides a better return on new construction investments over their entire lifecycles.
Mansour Belhadj is with Honeywell Process Solutions, Middle East, United Arab Emirates. http://hpsweb.honeywell.com