Safety Pays, and Pays Well

Invensys Operations Management's Holistic View of Safety Excellence


By Walt Boyes, Editor-in-Chief

"Right now there is a family about to find out that Dad's not coming home today," said Invensys Operations Management's Martin Turk, director of global industry solutions, hydrocarbon processing industries. "Right now, there is a mother starting her shift who kissed her children goodbye for the last time. Today, 16 more people will lose their lives at work. In 2009 alone 4,303 hardworking people never returned home from work. An additional 113,946 lives in our homes, communities and roadways were lost beyond the workplace. Personally or professionally, we are all on a journey to safety excellence."

Turk and his OpsManage'11 co-presenters Bret Moore and Keith Perkins explained how critical process safety has become, and how the holistic approach Invensys takes to safety excellence can maximize profit, risk avoidance and cost reduction.

"According to the Center for Chemical Process," Turk said, "companies with good process safety practices have increased productivity of more than 5%, while reducing product cost by 3%, maintenance cost by 5%, insurance cost by up to 20% and capital budgets by 1%. If you consider that maintenance alone is roughly 2% of a plant's revenue, that's a very valuable reduction."

"In other words," Turk said, "safety pays."

Turk and his co-presenters took a deep dive into the concept of risk and risk management, and concluded, "What companies need is a real-time 'risk meter' that can display the increases and decreases in risk caused by maintenance and operations failures. Not only should we have process alarms, but also procedural alarms."

Turk then described the software Invensys uses to provide customers with just such a risk meter: Macchu Picchu by ACM Safety. With the visualization tools provided by Macchu Picchu, or MP, operators, technicians and managers can see the results of their actions expressed as a function of variation in real-time risk.

The concept of using SIL (safety integrity level) to quantify safety is well-understood, Turk said, but there should also be CIL (commercial integrity level) and EIL (environment integrity level) to quantify profitability and environmental sustainability.

In keeping with the Invensys emphasis on practical applications, Joe Fillion, Invensys value consultant, introduced a product suite he called TotalPerformance.HF, a new Invensys advanced measurement system and optimization system for hydrofluoric acid (HF) alkylation processes. HF is nasty stuff, so anything that can be done to run the process more smoothly—and keep operators in the control room where they belong—can help improve safety and reduce operational risk.

HF alkylation was developed by Phillips Petroleum (now ConocoPhillips) to produce octane for higher grade aviation fuel during the Second World War. Hydrofluoric acid is used as the catalyst in this process. Optimal conditions entail an HF concentration of 87%. Much higher than that, and the process wastes HF, which costs $700 per barrel. Much lower than that, and acid runaway occurs, which can damage the system.

The key to the Invensys optimization suite for HF is ACA.HF, a multi-parameter online analyzer that measures % water, % HF and % ASO (acid soluble oil).

"Prior to our development," Fillion said, "refineries were using FTNIR (Fourier transform near-infrared) analyzers. These are prone to considerable maintenance and are not entirely accurate."

"We determined," Fillion said, "in cooperation with the ConocoPhillips refinery at Sweeny, Texas, that in an HF solution, conductivity is directly proportional to water concentration, and the density, when temperature-compensated, is directly proportional to ASO content. What's left is HF."

Fillion said that the tests at Sweeny showed that there was a reduction in HF use by nearly half, from 45 to 50 barrels down to 25. The process was more tightly controlled, because the ACA.HF analyzer is significantly more accurate than the FTNIR.

The system consists of a Foxboro conductivity meter, a Foxboro Coriolis flowmeter, a Foxboro PAC and a Wonderware HMI. It is simple in design and doesn't require an expensive analyzer house.

"The MTBF (mean time between failures) is greater than 29 years, the cost is half what the FTNIR costs, and installation and commissioning takes only one to two days," Fillion said.

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