Let the DCS Fit the Process

Distributed Control Systems (DCSs) Are Gaining New Capabilities, Such as Integrating with Safety Systems, to Match the Unique Needs of Their Process Applications

By Jim Montague

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You can't just waltz into a refinery's process control system with mainstream, IT-based computers and expect to be successful.

Big process applications are unique environments—even from one to another—so they need the appropriate controls hardware and software deployed in the correct manner to operate safely and efficiently. One size definitely doesn't fit all when it comes to process control.

This isn't to say that the latest software and smart computing devices can't be used in refineries or other process facilities, but they must be adapted to meet the individual performance requirements of each new setting, especially when it comes to safety. Fortunately, many of today's distributed control systems (DCSs) are gaining some improved capabilities, and getting the chance to perform in new applications.

For instance, 47-year-old OOO Kirishinefteorgsintez (OOO Kinef) is northwest Russia's only oil refinery located near Baltic Sea ports. It has a refining capacity of 19.8 million tons per year, and produces 80 refined petroleum products for the Russian Federation and Europe, including unleaded gasoline, diesel fuels, jet fuel, heating oils, bitumen, hydrocarbon liquefied gases, aromatics and solvents, polyalkylbenzene, linear alkyl benzene (LAB), alkylbenzene sulfer acid (ABSA), normal paraffins, sulfuric acid, sulfur and roofing materials.

Also Read: Upgrading Your DCS: Why You Might Need to Do It Sooner Than You Think

To upgrade its process control systems and improve operations and financial performance, OOO Kinef recently implemented Honeywell Process Solutions' Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) on its gas fractionating unit (GFU) and crude distillation unit (AT-1). Experion PKS serves as the core control platform, and provides basic process control, safeguarding functions, anti-surge control and compressor equipment protection. Also, the refinery has equipped its two process units with Honeywell's specialized Advanced Alarm Manager software to enable early incident detection and response, alarm initiation analysis and task-specific reporting.

OOO Kinef reports the benefits of its new control system include increased reliability and overall performance improvement, maximized equipment utilization, targeted return in investment (ROI) and faster project implementation and interoperability with its existing systems. "When choosing a control system, we wanted to address the primary objective of automating selected process units, as well as related challenges, such anti-surge control, compressor equipment protection and process safety monitoring," says Vadim Somov, OOO Kinef's general director. "In particular, we're using Honeywell's specialized Advanced Alarm Manager platform to help operators prevent incidents."

Complex Jobs, Added Safety

Besides making existing processes more efficient, DCSs are also implemented to help coordinate automation and safety systems in increasingly complex process applications that must comply with new specifications and regulations.

For example, INA Rijeka refinery is located at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea near Kostrena and Bakar in Croatia. It recently implemented integrated automation and safety systems on three units at its hydrocracking plant (Figure 1). The project included a new hydrocracking and hydrodesulphurization unit, a hydrogen generation unit, a sulfur recovery unit and a new centralized control facility for all three units. The facility's upgrade was required to enable INA Rijeka to produce Euro V-quality fuels that comply with the European Union's (EU) environmental standards.

The hydrocracking plant's integrated solution consists of Emerson

Process Management's PlantWeb digital plant architecture, including its DeltaV automation system and DeltaV SIS safety instrumented system. In addition, Emerson provided field instrumentation and control valves, and its Asset Management Suite (AMS) predictive maintenance software is used to configure devices on the three process units. Also, Emerson served as main automation contractor (MAC) and point of contact for three engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firms working on the project. "Emerson was able to deploy its local resources to coordinate these activities, and ensure the integrated system offered a common user interface for all three units," says Igor Šepić, INA Rijeka's refinery director. ""Emerson's project management services helped us start the units up on time and within budget."

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