Solvay Group is one of the largest chemical producers in Europe. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, it employs more than 19,000 people in 50 countries. Its sales in 2009 reached €8.5 billion. It is the world's largest manufacturer of hydrogen peroxide and soda ash, and a leader in the specialty polymers market. It is also a long-time customer of Emerson Process Management.
Yesterday at Emerson Exchange in San Antonio, Texas, Franck Jouault, systems department manager at Solvay's chemical and plastics production facility in Tavaux, France, shared the story of Solvay's beta test of Emerson's DeltaV v11 at his facility.
Tavaux is Solvay's largest chemical production site, producing 1.2 million tonnes of product every year. It employs 1,423 staff members and 415 local contractors.
In 2005, Emerson Process Management became one of two strategic automation suppliers for Solvay. Now 18 of Tavaux's 28 separate control architectures are DeltaV-based and range from v7 to v11.The DeltaV systems have a total of 12,000 I/O.
Tavaux also has legacy Provox systems with about 5,000 I/O and a large number of DeltaV SIS installed, and it uses AMS Device Manager for instrument maintenance and diagnostics.
"In our project revamping, we use every opportunity to improve our facilities," Jouault said. "We are planning to upgrade several systems and add another 15,000 I/O points in the coming years. We are also modernizing our systems and safety through safety PLCs, and adapting our security logic according to IEC 61508 and 61511. We are improving structure control with advanced process control. We have also developed standards for HMI to better control the quality of applications and improve maintenance operations."
With this massive upgrade in the works, and given Emerson's strategic supplier relationship with the company, it made sense for Solvay to become a beta tester for DeltaV v11.
Solvay began to put v11 through its paces in March. One of the key test subjects was the DeltaV electronic marshalling concept, given solid form in the CHARM module. CHARM (Characterization Module) is a completely modular format for each individual I/O channel that can be configured for any point in a location-independent manner.
"We needed to convince ourselves that CHARMs would work with devices from multiple suppliers, and we needed to evaluate it to make sure they would meet our expanding requirements," Jouault said.
The beta test of the CHARM I/O was done in two phases. The first took place in March on a 200-point system in the plastics laboratory that was scheduled for July commissioning. Working with Emerson experts over a period of two weeks in Austin, Texas, Solvay engineers tested transmitters of every sort used at the Tavaux site. "Our test was comprehensive, including power, HART connectivity, software, etc.," Jouault said. "These tests have allowed us to define our best practices for project execution using CHARMs I/O."
After that successful first test, DeltaV v11 was installed in a pilot plant inside the larger Solvay facility. It was a 1,300-point installation that included SIS solvers.
The numbers on both tests added up impressively for Jouault and his team. If they had installed traditional I/O for the lab project, they would have had to add a marshalling cabinet and a DCS cabinet. On the safety project, they would have had to design and install four new marshalling cabinets, three DCS cabinets and one SIS cabinet.
Using CHARMs, the team was able to:
- Eliminate the marshalling cabinet design and wiring, and the installation
- Eliminate some control and I/O cabinet design and installation
- Run wiring directly from junction boxes in the field to CHARMs cabinets
- Simplify the wiring
- Simplify engineering, including cabinet design, I/O design, spare sizing, wiring diagrams and change management
- Simplify maintenance
- Reduce shutdown time
- Reduce training time because the system was easily grasped by users.
As an added bonus, Jouault said, "This solution saves some space in the technical room, allowing us to install the new cabinets while the existing system is still in production."
In short, the test was a rousing success. "The quality of the new CHARM hardware was consistent with what we've come to expect from the DeltaV platform," Jouault said. "We know that CHARMs can be incorporated into our best practices. We confirmed that CHARMs are compatible with all the field devices typically used by Solvay in Tavaux, including those from other suppliers." He also mentioned the CHARM system's labeling feature that identifies each signal/channel with a text that fits over the terminals of the CHARM module.
"This beta test and the first results of the laboratory project reinforced the positive opinion that Solvay had about Emerson as a leader in process automation systems, and we appreciate the focus on ease of use it provided for the engineers and service technicians," Jouault said.