In the latest edition of BP's corporate magazine Frontiers there's a fascinating story in the "Technology in Action" feature, by Terry Knott. In Story 2: Staying in Control, BP journalist Knott talks about achieving maximum operational efficiency in a BP refinery.
"For the past few years, BP's Refinery of the Future team (Frontiers, April 2006) has been working closely with specialist controls supplier Expertune to enhance and deploy the company's proprietary PlantTriage performance supervision system. The system connects to a refinery's existing control system and extracts information about process operations, equipment and controls. It continuously monitors and analyses the health of the plant's control loops and associated valves, compares the findings against established standards and, where performance is sub-optimal, conducts further analysis to pinpoint the likely causes. The results are ranked by technical and economic importance and displayed as user-friendly graphics, enabling process control engineers to identify and tune poorly performing control loops quickly, thereby helping to increase production, save energy, reduce maintenance budgets and enhance overall plant safety."
Knott goes on to quote Lakshman Natarajan, project leader in BP's refining technology group about how well the system works, and what BP is getting out of it.
Knott says, "To date BP has deployed the technology in seven of its eleven refineries during the past two years - the scope ranges from several hundred control loops on two to three process units in one refinery, to over 2000 loops covering an entire refinery, making BP the leading user of PlantTriage."
The article closes with the statement that BP refineries estimate that the savings per year amount to between $1 and $5 million dollars in each refinery.
That's an impressive customer testimonial, by any standard. Remember, that's published in BP's own corporate magazine...