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Modern chemical processing plants have achieved cost effectiveness through both economies of scale and high levels of computer automation in the process control of daily operations. These efficiencies allow direct process manning and supervision to be greatly reduced per unit of production. As a result, however, fewer operators and engineers continuously managing vast amounts of current process information can lead to a typical situation of information overload.
Opportunities now exist for continuous, higher-level analysis of process information to extract its decisive content, and then immediately present it to the appropriate decision makers. Automating this complex analysis allowed us to more effectively prevent process upsets, mitigate potential emergencies, and pinpoint faulty instrumentation and equipment at FMC’s facility in Tonawanda, N.Y. Installing continuous process information management and performance auditing software allowed us to realize greater benefits from our existing control systems.
FMC is using a program called Falconeer IV from Falconeer Technologies, LLC, which has demonstrated cost savings and significant improvements in the operation of two of our electrolytic processes. So far, the software has allowed us to identify faulty instrumentation and troubleshoot processes more effectively, and reduce downtime. Specifically, the software is designed to help continuously monitor optimal solution concentrations and process conditions by flagging out of limit operations, thus reducing off-spec product, unnecessary steam and raw materials use, and wasted energy.
Process Performance Auditing Objectives
Falconeer’s process performance solution monitors process instrumentation and process operations at our Active Oxidants Division plant in Tonawanda. The plant produces ammonium, potassium and sodium persulfates for applications including catalysts, organic synthesis and oil recovery. To improve plant efficiency and product consistency, FMC installed a Honeywell TDC 3000 distributed control system (DCS) at this facility. If total computer control could be achieved, production costs would come down and product consistency would improve. Operators could start up processes using their normal operating procedures, but turn them over to the computer once the operation had reached its “normal or steady state” mode, allowing the process to run on virtual “auto pilot.” Online validation of data would then be essential to ensuring that the instruments are functioning correctly and the “auto pilot” mode could function properly.
|KEEPING CHEMISTRY CALM|
Process performance software helps prioritize operations at FMC's Active Oxidants Division chemical processing plant in Tonawanda, NY.
However, maintaining optimal levels of the various anions and cations species in the various unit operations can be difficult because they’re not all directly measured and controlled by our TDC 3000. Instead, the various units are periodically sampled and the species concentrations manually measured in a laboratory and the results then reported to the operators. Consequently, the goal set for continuously auditing these processes with this tool is to immediately identify the root cause of any process upsets to this chemistry (operating condition changes, actual faults, inappropriate operator actions, etc.) and report them in a timely manner to its users. This occurs with automatically generated advice screens, control charts, and e-mails of daily exception reports to its users detailing any issues found over the past 24 hours.
Continuous Process Performance Auditing Software
Falconeer’s software is working with our plant’s Honeywell PHD data historian and Lab Information Management System (LIMS) to comprehensively audit process performance on both a higher level process basis and a lower level individual tag or point basis. This solution isn’t found in any other process performance auditing software that we know of currently on the market. It’s designed to complement the current Honeywell TDC 3000 and PHD information management interfaces by performing a higher level analysis of the process data. We can then use that analysis to cut through information overload to identify what process information needs review, and when it needs to be reviewed. This augments the Honeywell GUI tools that allow us to look at the information in depth. It also enhances FMC’s Abnormal Situation Management methods by providing Abnormal Situation Identification in real-time.
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