When process plant teams collaborate with third-party control loop experts using advanced software tools, the result is reduced variability, increased reliability, and substantial savings as lost productivity and wasted resources are avoided.
Have you ever bought or subscribed to software or an app, which was too hard to use, not exactly what was needed, or maybe too expensive? Eventually, these products are abandoned by their ex-users, or become virtual or physical “shelfware.” This is not just a phenomenon at a personal level, because enterprises can experience it also, and often do, even when the benefits of using the software have been proven.
Control loop performance monitoring software (CLPM) is a useful-and many would say essential-tool for tuning processes while a production plant or unit is commissioned. But countless companies don’t take advantage of the ongoing value CLPM software can deliver over the lifecycle of a production plant.
Robert Rice, PhD, the vice president of engineering at Control Station, recently wrote an article for the December 2023 edition of Hydrocarbon Processing titled Implementing Digital Lifecycle Solutions to Improve Performance and Plant Operations. He describes how using CLPM software technology, and Digital Lifecycle Solution expertise provided by Control Station specialists, helps processing companies recognize quantifiable operational benefits over the long haul.
A CLPM three-step approach
Control Station PlantESP software is well-known for being highly effective in analyzing and benchmarking PID control loop performance, both individually and on a plant-wide basis, but what makes the software unique is its ability to extend loop analytics to enterprise-scale, over entire fleets of assets. Control Station Plant ESP software, and the Digital Lifecycle Solutions team, recommend a three-step digital lifecycle approach:
- Identify: CLPM experts interview client staff through workshops and follow up communications to identify process needs and key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Implement: CLPM engineers work with the process control team, locally and/or remotely, suggesting loop tuning improvements, physical equipment adjustments, instrument calibration, and other activities in pursuit of the site’s long-term performance goals.
- Maintain: Process plants experience dynamic operating conditions based on different operating modes, varying feedstocks, changing products, equipment fouling, strong loop interactions, and more. Proper optimization must be part of a continuous improvement program following documented workflows to realize optimal and sustainable change.
A refinery embraces the loop optimization digital lifecycle
A large 200,000 barrels per day refinery processing crude oils recently undertook a project to upgrade a legacy DCS. Realizing that loop tuning was more than just a one-time event at startup, the refinery team engaged Control Station to provide CLPM software and Digital Lifecycle Solutions services. In just one example of many improvements, PlantESP flagged a critical loop that was responsible for regulating steam pressure on the sulfur condensate line. After confirming PlantESP’s findings, the onsite team performed a bump test as recommended. The newly implemented tuning parameters settled the process, while significantly reducing wear and tear on the associated control valve.
Championing a collaborative solution
By engaging third-party subject matter experts, any processing facility can bolster its responsiveness and improve its ability to achieve long-term performance goals.
In a typical process plant, there are always opportunities to optimize operations, advance safety, and improve reliability. Partnering with an experienced CLPM software solution provider and employing an effective lifecycle workflow ensures that process plant staff are best positioned to capitalize on these opportunities.
The Control Station team members are available to discuss how Digital Lifecycle Solutions can help your facilities and enterprise. Contact us today!
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