OP LLC develops and commercializes technology for the refining, petrochemical and gas processing industries. In the 90 years since the company was founded and introduced its first thermal cracking process, it has created breakthrough technologies that make possible the formulation of a broad array of oil-derived products, such as motor fuels, plastics, detergents, synthetic fibers and food preservatives.
UOP’s expertise extends from research and development to engineering, process technology, technical services and the manufacture of adsorbents, catalysts and specialty chemicals that are used by customers to make end products of all types. Nearly every oil refinery uses one or more UOP processes and UOP sells more than 70 different catalysts used in various refining and petrochemical processes. It also offers separation and purification process technologies for the natural gas industry.
UOP applies the same rigorous methodology used to develop process technologies and related products to its own production processes. By taking this approach, UOP ensures that its products always meet customer needs.
Managing in Real Time
UOP has made extensive use of the Real-time Performance Management (RtPM) platform from OSIsoft. UOP uses the application’s multiple modules to create “skunk works” pilot facilities to prove process concepts during the R&D stage. UOP then scales these processes up from lab size to production volumes. UIP also uses the RtPM Platform for managing internal production processes for making intermediate chemical products for sale to end users.
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“This flood of data provided our researchers with detailed information that they previously lacked, and also exposed numerous data quality problems that had been hidden by our hourly summaries.”
In 1996, UOP implemented the PI system—the “engine” that feeds the RtPM platform. With 65,000 tags and more than 20 control device interfaces, the PI system is used by more than 100 R&D users to monitor pilot plants. Two years later, having found that the new platform helped improve productivity, UOP implemented 65,000 additional tags and installed PI servers in five major manufacturing plants including Mobile, Ala.; Riverside, Ill.; Shreveport and Baton Rouge, La.; and Brimsdown, England. UOP pursued the system’s expansion as part of a Six Sigma quality program.
In its RtPM implenetation UOP deployed a number of application modules with functions that include:
â¢ Archiving for all application data,
â¢ An interface to provide a hierarchical view of all alarms anywhere in the system,
â¢ A database that sorts real-time data, aliases, parameters or process specs into useful groups for use in programs and displays,
â¢ A graphics package for creating dynamic, interactive displays of data,
â¢ A batch monitor that helps attain an ideal batch for improved consistency,
â¢ Process templates, that facilitates process variable evaluation over repeatable time segments,
â¢ An interactive configurable environment for deploying RtPM information and applications over the Internet or corporate intranets,
â¢ An IT monitor for monitoring network status,
â¢ A computing engine for building equations and managing calculations on data from the PI system, and
â¢ A manual logger coupled with handheld terminals.Effective Research Tools
UOP’s research organization at UOP’s Riverside site and Des Plaines, Ill. headquarters uses the RtPM platform to streamline its research efforts in both refinery cracking processes and production of catalyst materials. One of the first research applications UOP developed, employed the PI system to view real-time data, replacing hourly data summaries. Using OSIsoft’s application programming interface and itsExcel-based reporting applications, the research staff also created their own program named PlantBook.
PlantBook works in conjunction with OSIsoft’s ProcessBook application to combine real-time plant data with analytical data from the research staff’s Oracle database and from their Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). PlantBook brings this information together and allows researchers and plant operations personnel to manipulate and interpret the data.
This flood of data provided the company’s researchers with detailed information that they previously lacked, and also exposed numerous data quality problems that had been hidden by our hourly summaries. This resulted in a systematic correction of data quality problems originating with instrumentation, automation systems, and operational procedures. There is considerable expense in running pilot plant experiments, so this early improvement in data quality probably paid for much of the initial investment in the RtPM Platform in less than a year. Data is the product generated by UOP research, so it is vitally important that we maintain a robust infrastructure for systems generating, acquiring, storing, transferring, and manipulating data.