Risky Business--How to Optimize a Hydrocarbon Processing Plant

It's All About the Trade-Offs

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Process Control Practice Renewal

The 2010 call for renewal of HPI process control and IT practices24 was built on this standard method for setpoint decision-making. Process control engineers now have the way to prove the value of their work and stay on real hilltops.

Clifftent is not a fad like Quality Is Job 1, ISO9000, Six Sigma, DCS, integration, CIM, APC, automation, real-time optimization and cloud computing, because it is the fundamental mathematical way to operate the HPI by optimizing risky tradeoffs using universal ideas of process behavior, economic sensitivity, statistics and calculus. It unifies setting every CV/KPI setpoint, limit, target and tolerance for all HPI plants to maximize a single, universal performance measure; expected value profit rate. All HPI plants are or should already be operated this way; Clifftent only improves the ad hoc, imprecise methods used everywhere from the beginning. It directly converts know-how into profit.

Punter Answer

To maximize his opponents' runback at 100 yards, a perfect σ = 0 punter should always take dead aim at the coffin corner intersection of the goal and side lines, an angle from the middle of the 50 yard line of arc tan 150/80 = 61.93º. But the real σ = 7.5º punter is best advised to play it on the safe side and aim at the six-yard line, an angle of arc tan 132/80 = 58.78º. His expected value runback would average from the 14-yard line. Of course, he should practice to reduce σ <7.5º and then aim closer to the coffin corner.
--Steven E Bradley, AZ  A'77, Brain Ticklers, TheBent of Tau Beta Pi, Winter 2011

Optimization theory guarantees any punter that uses this method properly will out-perform, on average, all other punters of equal talent and skill, σ = 7.5º, who do not.


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  7. Latour, P.R., "Align Olefin Operations to Economics – Clifftent Optimizes Setpoints," Presented at 2007 Spring AIChE Meeting Ethylene Producers Conference, Houston, Texas, April 23, 2007. Published in Conference Proceedings CD.
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  9. Latour, P.R., "Does the HPI Do Its CIM Business Right?" Hydrocarbon Processing, Vol. 76, No. 7, July 1997, pp. 15-16 and "Optimize the $19-Billion CIMfuels Profit Split," Vol. 77, No. 6, June 1998, pp. 17-18.
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  13. Latour, P.R., "Set Vapor Velocity Setpoints Properly," Hydrocarbon Processing, Vol. 85, No. 10, October 2006, pp. 51-56.
  14. Latour, P.R., "Align Alkylation Separation to Economics," Hydrocarbon Processing, Vol. 88, No.1, January 2009, p. 98.
  15. Latour, P.R., "APC for Min Maintenance or Max Profit? Part 1," Hydrocarbon Processing, Vol. 88, No.10, October 2009, p. 15, and "Part 2", Vol. 88, No. 11, November 2009, p. 13.
  16. Friedman, Y.Z. & Latour, P.R., "Dr. Pierre Latour's Views on APC", Hydrocarbon Processing, Vol. 84, No. 11, November 2005, pp. 17-18.
  17. Friedman, Y.Z. (& Martin, G.D., Latour, P.R.), "APC Survey", Exchange of Letters to the Editor, Hydrocarbon Processing, Vol. 85, No. 10, October 2006, pp. 45-46 and Vol. 85, No,11, November 2006, pp. 45-52.
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  21. Latour, P.R., "CIMFUELS," bi-monthly contributing editorial, FUEL Reformulation, September 1995 - February 1998.
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  24. Latour, P.R., "Process Control Practice Renewal 2010", Hydrocarbon Processing, Vol. 89, No. 4, April 2010, p. 94; "Process Control Practice Renewal 2010―Purpose," Vol. 89, No. 8, August 2010, p. 13; "Process Control Practice Renewal 2010―Performance," Vol. 89, No.10, October 2010, p. 15; "Process Control Practice Renewal―Consequences," Vol. 89, No. 12, December 2010, p. 86. "Process Control Practice Renewal―Select CVs", Vol. 90, No. 1, January 2011, p. 90.
  25. Randall Bartlett, "Thinking Like an Economist: A Guide to Rational Decision-Making," The Teaching Company, http://www.teach12.com/tgc/courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=5511
  26. Michael A Roberto, "The Art of Critical Decision-Making", The Teaching Company, http://www.teach12.com/tgc/courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=5932


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