Automating the Manufacture of Highly Energetic Organics using the S88 Model

Overview:

The manufacture of highly energetic organics consists of three distinct and physically separated process steps. The steps are Reaction, Filtration and Crystallization. Due to the reactive nature of the products produced each step is performed in separate and isolated manufacturing areas. In 2000, a project was initiated to automate the complete production of the manufacturing process and to install state-of-the-art automation in all three of the manufacturing steps. The effort was completed in late 2001 and has been in use for almost six months at the time of this paper. One of the most visible signs of success of the new system has been the reduction of off-specification products from 15-20% to less than 2% of the batches produced. This paper addresses some of the lessons learned, trials, tribulations, and issues involved in bringing batch automation to a process that has been traditionally handled manually. Some of the issues revolve around process measurements, control problems, replacing human action with computer actions, and resistance to change. The paper will discuss how S88 concepts were applied in the manufacture of highly energetic organics.

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Author: John Arnold, Dennis Brandl, WBF

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