Automation key to process management and optimisation

Paul Boughton
The latest automation solutions aimed at the chemical industry focus on reducing total cost of ownership, safety system development and delivery, improved functionality, and asset optimisation.

Honeywell is now providing virtualisation technology for its widely-used Experion process knowledge system (PKS). This technology can help manufacturers streamline Experion system management and lower the total cost of ownership by up to 30 per cent, says the company.

For many of today's manufacturers, the process control environment requires separate servers to support different applications. Virtualisation allows a single server to simultaneously run multiple operating systems and applications. It also improves reliability by insulating these operating systems from hardware changes. When process manufacturers use this technology with Experion, they can improve server utilisation rates, reduce disruptive operating system and hardware changes and simplify overall system management.

Off-line testing and development

Honeywell's range of virtualised offerings include Experion off-line testing and development solution that can be used for training, simulation and engineering. It also includes Experion's suite of Advanced Alarm Management solutions that improve process safety and operator efficiency, and eServer solutions that provide Web access to the system. All three products have been awarded VMware Ready status, which provides independent assurance that the company has tested its software with VMware vSphere.

"Every manufacturer today is being asked to do more with less, and virtualisation is a key to helping them achieve that goal because it can change how process control systems are installed and maintained," said Vimal Kapur, vice president of strategy and global marketing. "By combining virtualisation with Experion we are enabling cost savings for our customers and improving the overall user experience."

Manufacturing facilities use Experion to integrate plant subsystems - including process control, asset management and safety and security - to give operators a more-comprehensive view of how their overall plants are functioning (Fig. 1). Honeywell says that the data from Experion improves plant safety, reliability, efficiency and sustainability by allowing operators to make better-informed decisions in the control room. This, it says, leads to: a 30 per cent reduction in maintenance costs; a 1-3 per cent increase in production and 1-2 per cent decrease in costs due to asset effectiveness; 1-4 per cent increase in production due to process optimisation; up to 13per cent increase in production volume and fiveper cent decrease in production costs; 40 per cent reduction in operator-related incidents; and up to 50 per cent better return-on-investment over facility lifecycle.

Reliable safety solutions

Meanwhile, the rapid growth of ABB's safety execution centres (SECs) underscores global demand for reliable safety solutions. These centres provide customers with local resources for safety instrumented system (SIS) design, engineering and project execution, as well as access to resident safety standards experts and technology experts. Over the past four years their number has leapt from eight to 20, giving a total global team of more than 500 TÜV certified and ABB technology certified safety engineers.

With the protection of personnel, plant and the local community becoming an even greater priority for all industries, the need for reliable safety automation solutions and repeatable best practices is more critical than ever before. Industry analyst firm ARC predicts that this market will continue to see steady growth for the next several years. Customer demand for these solutions support this trend, as the number of global deliveries for ABB's System 800xA High Integrity integrated SIS increased by 55 per cent during 2009.

Stuart Nunns, global manager of ABB's SEC programme, said: "The need for reliable engineering resources and quality safety automation solutions has exponentially grown over the past few years; the depth and scope of our regulatory, technical and project execution knowledge provides our customers with the trusted expertise they need to successfully protect the integrity of their process, plant and people."

In late 2009, ABB SECs in Beijing and Shanghai, China and Bangalore, India were certified by TÜV as having in place and applying a file storage management system for delivery and implementation of safety system projects in accordance to international industry standards. ABB also recently announced that its SEC in Buenos Aires, Argentina was certified by TÜV. Other TÜV-certified centres are located in Denmark, Germany, Italy Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

For its part, Invensys Operations Management, a global provider of technology systems and software solutions to the process and manufacturing industries, has released its refinery-wide performance optimisation solution (RPOS).

The company has leveraged and integrated multiple technologies from its solutions portfolio to deliver different aspects of real-time business operations management to the refining industry. From simple control loop performance management and rigorous unit optimisation to LP vector updating for multi-unit planning optimisation, customers will be able to optimise all of their refining assets and reap cost savings and margin improvements of up to 25 cents per barrel.

Don Clark, vice president, industry solutions, Invensys Operations Management, said RPOS "enables companies to quantify and understand the financial impact of their business decisions in real time and ensures that their technology does not fall into disrepair as they pursue operations excellence related to safety, the environment and asset management. With a sustainable, tuned optimiser, our customers are also able to ensure optimal refinery planning by automatically downloading updated planning model LP vectors that can further drive the profitability of their refining operations."

The solution leverages Invensys Operations Management's SimSci-Esscor ROMeo optimiser and Wonderware Intelligence enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) applications.

The backbone of Invensys' On-line Performance Suite, ROMeo software is a leading unified modelling environment for off-line and on-line optimisation and is being used to optimise operations in refineries, petrochemical and chemical plants worldwide. The Wonderware Intelligence EMI application acquires critical process and optimal performance data from the ROMeo optimiser and models and aggregates it with data acquired from other operational data sources to provide deeper insight and tracking of refinery performance. The Wonderware Intelligence software can calculate and make readily available unique and extremely valuable key performance indicators to all plant personnel, allowing operators and executives to measure the real-time financial impact of the optimiser through flexible web-based dashboards.

Design and configuration sofawre

Finally, Rockwell Automation has added more than 30 new capabilities to its Rockwell Software RSLogix 5000 design and configuration software to provide users with complete functionality across the range of control disciplines.

With new features, such as integrated motion on EtherNet/IP and high-integrity add-on instructions (AOIs), the RSLogix 5000 software can give manufacturers a higher level of design flexibility and help machine builders save engineering time.

Using the new version of the RSLogix 5000 software, machine builders can - for the first time - access all the features and benefits of an integrated motion solution for configuring, programming, commissioning and maintaining high-performance drives, I/O, smart actuators and other devices on a single EtherNet/IP network. Avoiding the use of a dedicated motion network can help manufacturers lower system costs and enjoy the simplified synchronisation of controllers and drives for improved system performance