Invensys Driving Refinery Performance and Profits

Software Solutions Help Refiners Deal with Issues from Heavy Oils to Aging Operators

By Keith Larson

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Joe McMullen doesn't care to talk much about refinery-wide optimization technology itself. Instead, in his talk at this week's conference in Houston for users of Invensys Operations Management's SimSci-Esscor and IntelaTrac software, he focused on the benefits that Invensys is helping to deliver for its customers in the petroleum refining industry, notably refinery-wide performance and profitability.

Improved performance and profits are on every refinery's list of deliverables, continued McMullen, SimSci-Esscor product marketing manager, even as they are challenged with heavier and more diverse crude oil feedstocks, thinner margins, increased safety and environmental regulations, and a graying, thinly stretched workforce. Invensys technology and solutions are helping refiners with all aspects of these challenges, McMullen said.

SimSci-Esscor recognized early on that shifts to heavier feedstocks were in the cards for many refiners, and invested significantly over the past several years in models that are better able to predict behavior of heavy oils, McMullen said. Further boosting refinery performance, the crude analysis modeling tools acquired in the recent Spiral Software acquisition will help provide a more optimal starting point for the company's ROMeo online optimization tool.

Further, SimSci-Esscor provides a full suite of dynamic simulation, integration and visualization tools to aid in tasks ranging from process design to DCS configuration and start-up, through to operator training and plant operation. A few examples include:

  • The SimSci-Esscor Logic Validator, an automated test harness that validates and verifies the correct operation of safety-instrumented systems (SIS).
  • Invensys' Off-sites Solution, which integrates tank farm inventory management and product blending with refining operations.
  • Invensys Yield Accounting, designed to improve overall refinery material balance, yielding savings in excess of $8.5 million annually at a typical 250,000 barrel-per-day refinery.
  • Wonderware Intelligence software, which uses color-coded dashboards to clearly communicate performance against established KPIs;
  • The SimSci-Esscor Connoisseur model-predictive controller, which helps to boost energy efficiency and quality by reducing variability and allow units to run closer to tolerances; and,
  • Avantis Condition Manager, which collects and analyzes real-time diagnostics to help drive actions to improve overall asset performance.
  • In the area of workforce enablement, McMullen stressed the range of tools available to help refineries train and support control room and mobile operators as well as aid in "knowledge transition" to newer employees.

A few examples include:

  • Operator training simulators (OTS), which help address the second leading cause of accidents, operator error;
  • EYESIM immersive training simulator, which allows field operators to train in a realistic, simulated plant environment, right down to communication and interaction with control room operators; and,
  • IntelaTrac mobile workforce solutions, which enable data collection, workflow and other field operator tasks.

Again referencing this broad range of software solutions that reach into every corner of the refinery, "SimSci-Esscor is refining," McMullen said. And he wasn't even counting the Foxboro control systems, Triconex safety systems and broader array of Wonderware and Avantis production management software that call Invensys Operations Management home. A rich formula for refinery-wide performance and profitability, indeed.

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