What is the Value of Monitoring a Plant’s Control Loop Performance?

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Simply Put – The Benefits of CLPM Software Depend

As might be expected there’s growing interest in plant-wide loop monitoring capabilities. So much so that products in the category even have their own acronym now CLPM. In spite of what the acronym suggests in terms of CLPM being an established technology, questions about its value persist.

Most every question in the realm of process control can be answered with the simple reply: “It depends.” Few questions have a precise answer as so much depends on other elements within the production environment. So when it comes to valuing CLPM technology that answer “it depends” is literally on the money.

  • The Value of Awareness

A manufacturer of polymers is alerted to wholesale changes in performance and learns that parameters for each of the facility’s newly tuned controllers were returned to their old settings just a day later. The operator on duty preferred them that way as they required less work.

It’s understood that there is a price associated with “loose control”. How much do you gain from improved awareness depends on how well you know your facility’s current state of operation. With 100s if not 1000s of controllers, staying on top of plant-wide performance presents a significant challenge.

  • The Value of Insight

Engineering staff at a plant located in the Canadian oil sands sees performance of a steam generator drop, and they utilize advanced CLPM diagnostic tools to quickly isolate the associated root-cause. Those same staff note that the problem was found in under an hour rather than past situations that had taken days.

Manufacturers rarely calculate the value associated with time savings as employees are often viewed as a fixed cost. The value of returning the unit to optimal performance, however, is a recognized benefit. Depending on the unit’s impact on throughput and quality, that value can be significant as it was for the refinery.

  • The Value of Guidance

A mine that processes precious metals experiences inconsistent output from its conveyor the very start of its process. The mine’s CLPM system notes the change and it highlights the control loop responsible for the decrease in efficiency.  Production staff refer to the system’s recommendation for corrective action. The recommendation is based on advanced heuristics within the software which interpolates multiple threads of the mine’s process data, diagnosing the issue and prescribing a step-by-step solution.

Many argue that they get more than their fair share of problems, but few believe they are offered sufficient solutions.  CLPM technology provides meaningful guidance in real-time and around the clock.  The benefit is real even if the corresponding value is difficult to calculate.

Clearly the value of a Control Loop Performance Monitoring system depends. It depends on the complexity of your production processes and your current level of awareness. It depends on your ability to quickly isolate the root-cause of performance issues amidst many interacting processes. It depends on your skill at choosing the right remedy to your facility’s maladies and applying it correctly. For most manufacturers the value is there. Quantifying how much just depends.

 

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