Just as two heads are better than one, two complementary innovators can accomplish way more than each could achieve alone. So, in the six months since Yokogawa Electric Corp. and its Advanced Solutions unit acquired KBC Advanced Technologies Inc., they've evolved in a fast-moving, mutually supportive, "co-innovation" environment that's transforming their decision-support capabilities and their ability to serve and generate value for their customers.
"In the past year, we've seen Advanced Solutions evolve more rapidly than we ever imagined," said Simon Rogers, vice president, Advanced Solutions, Yokogawa. "Investing in KBC provides huge value and unique knowledge of processes, users and markets, and is enabling both organizations to concentrate even more closely on serving our customers.”
Historically, Yokogawa comes up from the field device level through manufacturing control, while KBC comes down from the strategic planning level. “Now, we're meeting in the middle at the manufacturing operations management level to provide a complete solution for users,” Rogers said. “Together we have 1,522 employees focused on level three applications across 59 countries for better worldwide coverage."
Rogers and his colleagues hosted a press conference on the Advanced Solutions' new vision and mid-term business plan this week at the Yokogawa Users Conference in Orlando.
Best of both worlds
To maximize lifecycle value for customers, Yokogawa and KBC use industrial consulting services to identify opportunities in business, operations and human performance, and apply technologies such as oil and gas simulators, refinery-wide reactor models, thermal-hydraulic network simulators and phase-behavior models. Next, they implement automation front-end engineering and design (FFED) and project execution services, and advanced technologies like advanced control and operator training simulators. Finally, they sustain resulting improvement with performance monitoring and production/operations support services and advanced solutions, as well as data as a service (DaaS) and software and a service (SaaS) technologies. Similar identify/implement/sustain procedures are applied in Yokogawa's suites of services and technologies for operational effectiveness, production optimization and energy optimization.
"KBC models refineries and their operations in great detail to advise users how to produce their products better, with less energy, and with better organized maintenance. However, these solutions weren't embedded, and this is what Yokogawa does. We can take KBC's objectives and KPIs for users, and automate them so users can sustain them in their refinery operations," explained Rogers. "In the future, these solutions and their industrial know-how, best practices and workforce education will be delivered more and more via the cloud."
Decision-support with Petro-SIM 6.2
While delivering on the potential of Yokogawa and KBC's joint capabilities won't be easy, the two organizations appear up to the task. "We're new to the Yokogawa family, but we see KBC as going beyond process simulation to becoming the primary decision-support tool for our users," said Mary Lacombe, product champion, Petro-SIM and SIM Reactor Suite, KBC. "We believe this will allow them to examine how different people and teams are working together, break down organizational barriers, improve their information exchange and collaboration, and provide the right capabilities for tacking their challenges. They'll be able to see that formerly isolated applications are all integrated."
Lacombe reported that KBC's main tool for achieving its decision-support vision is its newly released Petro-SIM 6.2 software that is intended to break through the boundaries between process and utility modeling with a fully integrated simulation tool, which lets users debottleneck production by 2-3%, reduce energy use by 5-15%, and save capital on new designs, increasing total project internal rate of return (IRR) by 1-2%.
"The vision for our simulation software portfolio has been to deliver a fully integrated engineering suite that covers the entire hydrocarbon lifecycle from conceptual engineering to operations and from wellhead to finished products, and incorporate world-leading technology and workflows," said Lacombe. "Our ambition is to deliver this suite through our open, integratable and extensible platform, and support desktop, browser, mobile and cloud interactions that are underpinned by a consistent data environment and provide rich reporting and analytics.
"Historically, process systems and utility systems were designed and modeled in isolation, typically by completely different teams,” Lacombe said. “Data transfer was done manually and iteratively, which increased capital costs and increased operating costs due to oversized equipment. Utilities and off-sites represent major costs in design and operation, including 40% of capital costs and more than 60% of operating costs. In reality, process and energy systems are tightly integrated. For example, major compressors can limit unit throughput due to constrained turbines, which can be further constrained by steam supply and cooling water availability. Now, we're integrating all these technologies and features."
As a result, Petro-SIM 6.2 also expands KBC's refining capabilities in naphtha and gasoline modeling areas with revised, improved or expanded modeling of kinetic HF alkylation, naphtha hydrotreating, aromatics and isomerization.
In addition, Petro-SIM 6.2 extends its energy modeling in the process simulation environment with:
- Combined heat and power configuration templates for efficient modeling of the utilities system in the process flowsheet;
- Modeling of fouling in gas turbines to better manage performance over time;
- Best Technology Index utility for readily analyzing energy performance in facilities;
- Heuristic balancing of steam networks as part of process models; and,
- Expanded Excel integration capabilities that focus on energy metrics and reporting on modeling capabilities.
"Petro-SIM 6.2 also empowers engineers to improve unit performance through better understanding of current performance and potential optimum performance by improving meter capabilities for better managing extraction of process data into process models; expanding reporting and data analysis functions; improving mathematical techniques for unit optimization studies; and extending capabilities for generating more realistic sub-models," added Lacombe. "Users want to hit their targets better, and produce as much product as they can at the least cost. Petro-SIM 6.2 achieves our goals of going beyond simulation to provide a complete decision-support solution in one application, and gives users a standard method for doing things across all their applications and sites. Improved data quality in less time means they can make more and better decisions in less time, accomplish more tasks, and even push into new areas."