Modeling, Simulation Break into New Levels of Optimization

AspenTech's CTO shows how innovations and acquisitions are combined to produce new software modeling and optimization solutions for users at Optimize 2015.

By Jim Montague

After delivering useful solutions, innovation remains constantly active because there are always new problems to solve. The same is true for AspenTech's AspenPlus, HYSYS, DMCplus, aspenONE and other solutions, which are continually improving their process and asset optimization capabilities.

"AspenPlus and HYSYS have 100,000 daily users; 700 universities use them for teaching; they have three times the market share of their next competitors; and they're now 20% faster with their new Version 8.8 release," says Manolis Kotzabasakis, AspenTech's chief technology officer, who spoke at the company's Optimize 2015 event on May 4 in Boston. "However, AspenTech also loves to push the envelope on former boundaries, so we're using our recent PSV Plus acquisition to help add process safety analysis and workflows to our simulations in AspenPlus and HYSYS, which will indicate, for example, when a selected orifice is smaller that what an application requires. This means users won't have to go outside of this software to size needed components."

However, Kotzabasakis reports that AspenTech wants to go even further into other potential simulation areas. "Just two months ago in March, we acquired Blowdown for its depressurization modeling technology, and we're adding it into our products now," says Kotzabasakis. "We're also working on several distillation column breakthroughs that can be added to gas treatment solutions in HYSYS and integrating Sulsim to our sulfur recovery solutions."

Kotzabasakis reports that incorporating these new and varied capabilities into AspenTech's modeling and simulation software will give users more powerful tools without requiring them to be programming experts. "In the past, operators reaching the end separation stage in an ethylene plant, for instance, would have to go and get data from other software, but now our solutions will enable them to turn on economic analysis functions with just one click for each unit in their application or quickly move from simulation to safety analysis."

Likewise, AspenTech's DMCplus adaptive process control software has been handling manipulated and controlled variables in more than 6,200 process applications, but many feedstocks are rapidly changing, fouling equipment and causing other issues. As a result, AspenTech added adaptive modeling to DMCplus in 2013 to detect and analyze with these new problems, and offer automatic calculations, modeling and control strategies to help solve them. The latest of these is its Smart Tune capability, which AspenTech launched as part of its DMC3 software at the opening of Optimize 2015 and is available as part of its aspenONE licensing program.

"To make our analytics better and easier to use, our aspenONE Process Explorer software is now using HTML 5, which enables graphics that are more easily scalable across many types of devices," adds Kotzabasakis. "We also have a simple toolbar without menus, so users can easily view data such as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) for an amines unit and quickly see a detailed analysis of its lost production time. These graphics can show separation efficiency and column temperature for the last two hours and quickly show trends and possible problems."

Kotzabasakis also announced AspenTech's launch of its new PIMS-AO refinery planning software, which has a new user interface, HTML5, improved analytics and is five times faster than previous PIMS software. "If they have a chance to buy some needed Eagle Ford crude, for example, PIMS-AO can calculate faster and help them decide sooner if that purchase is worthwhile," explains Kotzabasakis.

Kotzabasakis concluded that some of AspenTech's coming innovations will include Flowsheet Model Builder software that will allow users to graphically construct unified planning and scheduling models. "We're also working on real-time predictions of unexpected events and providing prescriptive operating solutions for them," he adds. "So we're adding Equipment Analytics software to aspenONE Process Explorer, AspenPlus, HYSYS and DMC3."