Emerson digitally automates $2.7B Shanghai petrochemical complex

EMERSON PROCESS Management has completed a digital automation project at one of the largest integrated petrochemical complexes in China. Shanghai SECCO Petrochemical Company selected Emerson in 2003 as its digital automation partner for the $2.7 billion, 10-plant ethylene cracker complex.

Located in the Shanghai Chemical Industrial Park about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Shanghai, the complex will annually produce 900,000 tons of ethylene and more than 2 million tons of other related petrochemical products used in the plastics and synthetics industries. The ethylene cracker, SECCO’s core plant in the complex, is the largest in China, as well as one of the largest in the world.

SECCO used the engineering and project management expertise of Emerson to integrate and coordinate multiple suppliers, enabling completion of the complex – from bare ground to a fully functional world-class facility -- in just 27 months, three months ahead of schedule. Startup of the ethylene cracker plant in March 2005 took just 10 hours, 45 minutes, a world record, according to SECCO, for a project of this magnitude. 

“Our facilities and expert personnel at Pudong enabled us to partner effectively with SECCO, shaping a cutting edge solution,” said Sweechee Lee, general manager, Emerson Process Management China. “We were also able to call upon Emerson experts among our more than 4,000 global engineering and technical service professionals, particularly from centers in India and Singapore.”

Emerson installed PlantWeb digital architecture throughout the SECCO complex, which contains 47,000 control loops, 40,000 instruments, and some 13,000 intelligent devices networked in the world’s largest FOUNDATION fieldbus installation. Fieldbus is an all-digital, open communications approach that connects measurement and control equipment such as sensors, actuators and controllers in processing applications.

Rather than using a centralized project organization run by an overall project contractor, SECCO – a joint venture between Innovene (formerly BP), Sinopec, and Shanghai Petrochemical Corporation (SPC) – chose an integrated project management team approach, under which each key plant in the complex had a lead project contractor. As the main automation supplier, Emerson not only engineered and implemented the automation and control systems, but also helped manage multiple international and local suppliers for each of the 10 plants in the facility. 

The Emerson-SECCO team wrote the engineering functional design specifications for the facility, which ensured that identical approaches were taken to engineering in each of the 10 plants. As Main Instrument Vendor (MIV), Emerson communicated and enforced conformance and standardization in all the processes in each of the plants, a vital step to maintaining long-term operating efficiency of the integrated complex.

“With so many contractors, SECCO realized that partnering with one main automation supplier early – that is, using the MIV approach – would be critical for the success of the project,” commented Danny McHugh, process control manager styrenics, SECCO.

The MIV approach provided integration and teamwork for the project, and helped facilitate communication and optimized operations throughout the construction and on into the operation of the facility.

SECCO also implemented a centralized control room – the command center for all operations personnel in the facility – that oversees the main ethylene cracker and nine downstream derivative plants. Emerson’s PlantWeb digital architecture with Foundation fieldbus technology enables economical communications and wiring for the centralized control room, collecting, analyzing and sharing operations and diagnostics information for the 750 operations, engineering, and maintenance personnel staffing the SECCO site.

To reduce risks and raise the safety and production levels of the integrated complex, SECCO included PID control in the FOUNDATION fieldbus field devices, making the installation the largest installed fieldbus plant in the world and the largest control in the field installation.

“We have proven that FOUNDATION fieldbus works, and works on a large scale,” said Stuart Mounfield, project engineering manager, control systems, SECCO. “I don’t see any reason for any project anywhere in the world to not use this fieldbus technology. It works and it’s robust.”

AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager, a key PlantWeb tool used during engineering and commissioning, enabled economies in setup and configuration of the intelligent devices. During regular operation, AMS Suite technologies will receive diagnostic information from the digital field devices and provide advanced information about the health of all components to maximize plant reliability and availability.

The AMS Suite software resides on ten DeltaV automation systems that operate as part of PlantWeb, coordinating the control strategies across the complex and communicating over the digital network to Emerson’s Fisher valves with Fisher Fieldbue digital valve controllers, Rosemount measurement and analytical devices, and Micro Motion Coriolis flowmeters.

Emerson also integrated a safety instrumented system (SIS) into the open and flexible digital plant architecture, as well as a closed-circuit TV system between the control room and outstations.

“When you look at the complexity of building 10 units at one time, and asking all of them to start up in a short timeframe with minimum disruption, it’s pretty amazing,” said Jack Brinly, deputy project director at SECCO. “At the beginning, we saw no probability of finishing in early 2005, but we were able to finish three months earlier than originally planned, and Emerson deserves much of the credit for making that happen.”

“On such a massive and centralized scale, this is probably the first project of its kind ever,” said Zhang Ziliang, SECCO project director. “In practice, the performance of the complex is outstanding. We have achieved our objectives, and on the whole it is very satisfying.”

According to SECCO, the integrated complex project has a world class safety record, with no major accident and zero fatalities during construction, which included more than 50 million man hours of labor. The site also boasts leading environmental standards. Recognizing the key role of automation in the successful project, SECCO recently presented Emerson with the Excellent Supplier Award.

“We are honored to be part of the partnership that has made the SECCO project successful,” said Mike Train, president of Emerson Process Management, Asia-Pacific. “It is gratifying that Emerson’s engineering and project management expertise, and the technology of PlantWeb with Foundation fieldbus played a key role in helping SECCO realize its vision.”

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