May 15, 2018

Honeywell: three batch technologies to maximise productivity and profitability

(via Honeywell)
(via Honeywell)

This article was written by Chris Peters, Experion product manager at Honeywell Process Solutions.

Productivity and profitability: two words that are constantly at the forefront of every manufacturer’s mind. How can I make my operations, systems and processes more productive and profitable? What new tools are available to help improve productivity and increase profitability? 

In industries like chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage, these concepts play out against an increasing demand for manufacturers to be able to do more with less. Output and quality are expected to be higher, while resources continue to shrink. As a result, companies are examining the efficiency of their batch applications and how those can directly impact business productivity and profitability.

Honeywell recently explored these dynamics by surveying batch manufacturers for a Honeywell Observational Voice of the Customer (OVOC) study. The results revealed some pain points:

  • Lack of visibility: many control room operators lack adequate visibility or control over their batch processes, often due to limits in available technology.
  • Unpredictability: There is an element of (unpleasant) surprise for some operators, as they often don’t know what tasks are coming when, or can’t foresee delays that could stop or hinder processes.
  • Ineffectual solutions: many also reported that even when they knew about a problem, the troubleshooting methods they used were ineffective.

A common cause for these pain points is the misalignment or lack of synergy between process control systems and batch operations. Essentially, the efficiency of the former directly impacts the bottom line of the latter, so getting the two to work in harmony is critical for businesses to maximise productivity and profitability.

A new generation of technologies is helping to solve these pain points.

 

Visualisation Solutions

Automation suppliers like Honeywell are introducing software systems that combine distributed control, batch automation and advanced visualisation technology to enhance operators’ view and understanding of batch production happening at their sites.

To help operators improve visibility, Honeywell developed Experion Batch, which uses a human-machine interface with visual analytics to help plant operators better anticipate and respond to atypical situations. Engineers use the visualisation to understand what happened in the past, which helps create predictive views of what might happen in the future. Field engineers can also access visual intelligence through a mobile app. The app keeps personnel connected by providing a high-level view of production statuses.

Such visualisation provides ease of mind, so engineers can take on parallel tasks knowing that there is sufficient time before the next action is required. They can also solve pervasive problems through guided troubleshooting, returning to production with minimal downtime (a common concern for all batch operators). In addition, operators can understand how a current batch is performing against a typical batch. This can help anticipate issues, decrease cycle time and improve productivity.

 

ISA88-aligned distributed batch programs

The traditional design of batch operation is a centralised batch engine. However, manufacturers would benefit from a more progressive distributed batch environment that is more aligned with ISA-88 philosophy.

This kind of system could solve a number of the pain points identified by respondents. Manufacturers don’t need to rely on a single piece of equipment for plant operations, but can instead minimise risk by placing batch functionality in unit-aligned controllers. So if a unit controller is suddenly out of commission, the other unit operations aren’t affected.

If this seems confusing, picture a chandelier in which one bulb has burned out. Replacing it with a new one doesn’t affect the rest of the bulbs from continuing to light up. Distributed batch designs work the same way.

They also don’t require batch servers, so there is no required upkeep for those additional pieces of equipment. In tandem, redundant modular controllers that are designed for batch operations and sequencing can deliver the power and capacity as needed in a cost-efficient manner.

Imagine a plant with a single, common database for regulatory control and batch configuration instead of operating under the tyranny of an unpredictable batch server. The controller could support all types and scopes of batch sequences—from a simple, pre-defined unit, to a control recipe derived from a master recipe complete with underlying procedures, operations, and phases.

Batch operators get a more robust performance from a controller-based system that provides a single operating and engineering platform for batch execution. Without the burden of a server, they don’t have to worry about additional maintenance, security, and communication latency issues and costs, which means more time and resources to focus on maximising productivity.

 

Full automation systems

In its research, Honeywell found that many facilities are running sequential-based processes that require significant fine-tuning and manual oversight. This is risky as it has the potential to create errors and inefficiencies. Instead, production should invest in full automation that allows tasks to be conducted concurrently, which would increase productivity and lower costs, according to many production leaders.

The study found that production leaders want their teams to be proactive, such as being able to anticipate upcoming work activities or identify potential production problems that could cause downtime. Instead, most are stuck in a reactive role.

Process controllers tend to be too big for the task of real unit level control, with multiple units allocated to a process controller simply because they happen to fit. This makes maintenance more complex and logistically difficult, especially when it comes time to make upgrades. An automation system utilising unit optimised controllers would enable a more flexible, unit-based approach to mitigate these challenges.

 

Time to invest in new technologies

Next-generation technologies that enable better virtualisation, distributed batch processing and full automation have the potential to solve the pain points identified by surveyed plant operators. They can provide new levels of availability, efficiency, productivity, and reliability, and do so by transforming the user experience into one that provides clear visuals, intuitive, touch-enabled displays, and interactive workflows. The result is batch operations that are better planned and less stressful.

Solutions that enable responsive batch processes increase throughput and asset utilisation, lower costs, and improve product quality, which in turn helps companies create better competitive differentiation.

(via Honeywell)






May 23, 2018
Cheniere Energy’s has committed to the development of a third LNG liquefaction train at its Corpus Christi liquefaction project (CCL project). It was announced on 22 May that... [Read More]

May 23, 2018
Hydranautics has announced the launch of the CPA7 series of RO membranes for municipal and industrial fluid treatment: the CPA7-LD-4040, CPA7-LD and CPA7 MAX. The CPA7 membranes offer a combination of... [Read More]

May 22, 2018
KSB Pumps and Valves has assisted the University of Pretoria in the construction of a large controlled-temperature test unit, which will form the backbone of ongoing research into heat transfer, fluid... [Read More]

May 22, 2018
The new MetraFlow ultrasonic flowmeter from Titan Enterprises incorporates a chemically resistant Perfluoralkoxy Alkane (PFA) tube onto which are mounted high sensitivity ultrasonic sensors. The company... [Read More]

May 22, 2018
ECD says the analyser-process controller simplifies liquid measurement and control The new LQ800 Multi Channel Controller from Electro-Chemical Devices (ECD) combines internet-of-things liquid analytical... [Read More]

May 21, 2018
The need to repair the ageing water infrastructure sitting in cities like Los Angeles is becoming more and more acute. Utilities are increasingly concerned about the lifespan of their systems and how quickly... [Read More]

May 21, 2018
The company says the acquisition complements and strengthens its global presence in delivering fluid automation solutions. Emerson announced on 17 May that it has agreed on terms to acquire Aventics... [Read More]

May 21, 2018
Orbinox has launched a new line of heavy duty slurry knife gate valves designed for high pressure applications. The HG series knife gate valve has been specifically designed to offer excellent performance... [Read More]

May 18, 2018
Tendeka has successfully tested its PulseEight wireless control and monitoring device with an operator in the North Sea. The PulseEight uses pressure pulse telemetry to communicate wirelessly between downhole... [Read More]

May 18, 2018
The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) has chosen Veolia and Suez to design, build and operate the Gandharbpur drinking water treatment plant. WASA is the body in charge of drinking water... [Read More]

May 17, 2018
ITT announced 17 May that it is expanding its i-ALERT Monitoring Solution portfolio, giving customers additional options to maximise the efficiency and total cost of ownership of all types of rotating... [Read More]

May 16, 2018
T-T Flow announced on 16 May that they have been awarded accreditation from the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) for all its swing gate valves. WRAS contributes to the protection of public health... [Read More]

May 16, 2018
Valcor Engineering has announced their new product lines, SV22, SV28 and SV102. The SV102 is a precision pressure regulator, and the SV22 and SV28 are high flow electronic valves. The SV102 is a manual... [Read More]

May 16, 2018
BW Offshore has contracted liquid handling and pump specialist PG Flow Solutions to supply water booster pumps to the floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel operator’s life extension... [Read More]

May 15, 2018
Research at Oregon State University (OSU) has found that silver nanoparticles (an increasingly common material in consumer products) can potentially interfere with the treatment of wastewater. The findings... [Read More]