Taking the heat out of trouble-shooting

Paul Boughton

Plant management solutions are homing in on all aspects of the process, from design to logistics. With valuable results, says Eugene McCarthy.

The latest plant management solutions are focused on helping users to optimise energy use, improve economics, make overall plant operations more efficient, and improve personnel performance.

Take, for example, version 8.4 of Aspen Technology's aspenONE software. The new version has an activated heat exchanger design and rating capability, updated energy economics, and new reactor models for refinery-based users.

Although new to the market, early users are already reaping the benefits across a range of different process applications.

"AspenTech's new Activated Exchanger Design and Rating brings a new level of ease to trouble-shooting heat exchanger operations in processes. Activation makes any exchanger issues very apparent during the process simulation. I am confident this new capability will be of immense value to my process engineering colleagues - and to me - on a day-to-day basis, helping us to operate our processes more efficiently, at lower energy cost and with greater operating reliability," said Jacobus Kloos, a process engineer with Dow.

Jay, Gulotta, a process engineer with Ambitech, is also impressed: "The new delayed coker unit adds another rigorous reactor model to the Aspen HYSYS Petroleum Refining reactor suite that I can easily tune and adjust to match plant data. The robust solver provides a stable model guaranteeing accurate results."

For Dr Hans-Rolf Lausch, head of computer aided process engineering (CAPE) & automation, Evonik Industries, the new version has enabled better project collaboration: "Conceptual models are easy to use and enable Evonik's process engineers to describe solids equipment without being solids experts, allowing them to model and optimise entire processes. Our engineers in the CAPE & automation department can work with the particle technology department to make the model more rigorous, leading to better collaboration and more efficient projects."

First introduced in aspenONE V8 software, AspenTech's Activation capability in Aspen Plus and Aspen HYSYS enables process engineers to do instant analysis of heat exchangers, energy, and economics without specialist knowledge of these engineering disciplines. This unified engineering environment enables engineers to work more efficiently and achieve better results within tight project timelines.

The new Activation capabilities in V8.4 software include: Activated EDR, an all-new Activation capability to optimise heat exchanger design and operation. From within the new Aspen Plus and Aspen HYSYS engineering environment, users can do rigorous heat exchanger design and view heat exchanger status to quickly perform revamp studies and debottlenecking; Activated Energy, which automates pinch analysis for non-experts, adds the ability to group process units in a flow diagram and optimise energy across the grouping. Activated Energy also identifies optimum design modifications for energy savings and automatically recommends lower cost utilities that are available; and Activated Economics - powered by AspenTech's proprietary costing engine and the process industry's only cost estimation software, Activated Economics in V8.4 adds cost overlays to process flow diagrams, annual updates for cost estimation, and enhanced features for upstream safety standards.

Two other innovations allow faster, more accurate refinery modelling for heavy crudes, and expanded conceptual solids models for speciality chemicals.

For its part, Invensys is tackling the cost of plant testing and commissioning with SimSci APC 2014, the new version of its SimSci advanced control software. The company says this new version shrinks testing and commissioning time by up to 50 per cent - as well as improving control and plant performance.

Ease of use has been a key driver for Invensys and SimSci APC 2014 modernises the graphical user interface while retaining the rigorous and robust calculation engine from the company's successful Connoisseur APC offering.

Enhanced natural workflow

The new SimSci APC 2014 software is structured around an enhanced, natural workflow that includes full support for model case file development and a connection wizard for faster integration to any distributed control system and programmable logic controller, including the company's Foxboro I/A Series DCS and its new Foxboro Evo process automation system. The software will be even more tightly integrated in future releases of the Foxboro Evo system as well, providing enhanced simulation capability (Fig.1).

SimSci APC 2014 software extends the capabilities of traditional APC offerings to garner more control over the process. Director, a powerful new feature, allows the control engineer to build custom calculations or add custom supporting controller functions that augment the user's experience.

Natural workflows speed model building, configuration and deployment, and additional features make the software suitable for a complete APC project implementation.

Charms logs one billion operatiung hours on 300 sites

Emerson Process Management's electronic marshalling with characterisation modules (CHARMs) technology, an integral part of its DeltaV automation system, has logged one billion operating hours at more than 300 sites.

Originally developed for offshore platforms, where space and weight are at a premium and where last minute automation design changes result in high costs and production delays, CHARMs technology reduces the complexity of connecting automation systems with thousands of temperature, pressure, level, flow, and other control and measurement devices in a typical process operation.

"DeltaV's CHARMs technology has overturned 35 years of industry thinking and promised to forever change how automation projects are designed and implemented," said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management.

"Our customers are proving this true - our business has seen a tremendous increase in demand for each of the past two years, and we anticipate continuing this robust performance this year," he added.

He says the sophisticated technology provides an innovative solution to replace a long-standing industry approach that did not provide the needed flexibility for today's highly complex and challenging projects.

The simplicity and enhanced flexibility accommodates late project changes, eliminates hardware, and helps customers reduce field rework, minimising costly schedule delays.

"We saw a 40 per cent drop in installation costs over traditional approaches," said Bryan Beyer, operations manager, Southern States Chemical, the US East Coast's largest sulphuric acid supplier. "The simplicity of CHARM's technology also means fewer failure points, which translates into more reliability and greater up-time for our plant," he added. Southern States Chemical was the first North American facility to install CHARMs technology.


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