BOC Optimizes Global Operations with Advanced Process Control

BOC Optimizes Global Operations with Advanced Process Control

 
Improving throughput, controlling quality, reducing energy consumption and gaining plant stability with Matrikon’s Control and Information Technology
 
Global Operations Required Significant Changes
Managing energy costs is critical to the success of any industrial gas company. The highest operating cost incurred in air separation processes is the cost of electricity. This cost can be as high as two-thirds of the total cost of production, and plants that produce liquid products can potentially use tens of thousands of Kilowatts per hour.
 
Model Predictive Control, or MPC technology has been maximizing process performance, improving efficiencies, reducing energy usage, raw material usage, and environmental impact in process industries for over 25 years.  MPC was initially trialed in the oil and gas sector where small improvements in efficiency can lead to significant profits.  With developments in the technology and reduced software costs, MPC has become increasingly attractive to other smaller industries. Many industrial gas companies have now realized the benefits of Advanced Process Control (APC) solutions in addressing their unique challenges. 
 
BOC, a global industrial gas company, saw the challenges of maintaining its place in an extremely competitive world market.  To remain competitive, BOC needed; the agility to manage production loads, by taking advantage of variations in power prices between peak and non peak times; the capacity to respond quickly and according to customer product demands to reduce venting and top up usage; to operate consistently at maximum and minimum load constraints. These challenges required BOC to make rapid and significant changes in their entire global operation.
 
APC Solution
BOC verified the benefits that MPC could bring by implementing it on a number of their plants. Now they wanted to aggressively rollout the MPC solution. To complete this challenge, BOC entered into an agreement with Matrikon to provide a cost effective, turnkey, APC solution that went far beyond the boundaries of a conventional APC implementation, applying it to more than 50 plants world-wide in a two-year time frame. To verify the approach BOC tested it on two of their plants. BOC technically proved the software architecture, its deployment and their ability to resource and support the changes internally. What tested successfully in two plants would be implemented in 50 plants world wide.
 
Each implementation saw BOC and Matrikon personnel working together. Matrikon provided much of the software and engineering resource for step-testing and commissioning. BOC provided expertise in the LMPC design, model and performance review as well as fixing plant issues in order for MPC to meet its objectives.
 
Matrkon’s software comprised ProcessNet, ProcessDoctor and OPC connectivity.
Matrikon’s ProcessNet, a real-time decision support application, provided a web-based solution for BOC that included process data acquisition, control system performance analysis, process monitoring and advanced control technology components. ProcessDoctor’s automated step testing and modeling functionality was increasingly used as it proved to minimize the time and disturbances typically associated with MPC and step testing while producing superior results. BOC’s process data acquisition was accomplished with OPC standards based connectivity. MatrikonOPC Servers for BOC’s DCS/PLC platforms enabled plant and APC data to be archived in MatrikonOPC’s Desktop Historian. The archived data would be used for reporting an analysis.

 

Web-Based MPC and Regulatory Controller Monitoring System
The control system performance analysis was accomplished by step testing performed from one of Matrikon’s remote Canadian offices, with no physical presence at BOC plant sites or Remote Operating Centers (ROCs). A majority of BOC plants were step tested in pairs of 2-4, in open loop, while 10% of the plants were step tested while existing control loops were kept running.
 
As the project proceeded, BOC increasingly used automated multivariable step testing. Traditional step testing is more susceptible to plant interruptions and shutdowns as it takes longer to carry out. It also requires more human resources. Automated step-testing on the other hand was often 50% faster and had a much lower cost of deployment. The models are higher fidelity since they are generated around the required operating point. And it is easier to re-test a plant at a later stage to validate models. Subsequent to the 50 plant rollout, BOC has moved into a second implementation phase with 10 more plants. As part of this rollout, automated step-testing will be used exclusively.
 
As part of the 50-plant implementation, Matrikon’s ProcessDoctor was configured to monitor the MPC and the Proportional-Integral-Derivative controller (PID). Things like model degradation, PID performance, utilization, and benefits could be monitored pro-actively in real time. The monitoring reports are made available via a common web interface and are viewed remotely.
 
Automatic Plant Ramping Made Possible
The web-based production scheduling system using Matrikon’s ProcessNet, real-time decision support software, enabled BOC to consolidate, correlate their data, and visualize production costs and actual production numbers in real time. BOC is able to automatically ramp plants to manage day and night power price variations, demand changes via the MPC controller, and to communicate targets to MPC in a scheduled fashion.
 
Visualizing data in this way enables BOC to operate their global operations remotely. The web-based system also provides the benefit of distributed expertise and global collaboration. An expert in the UK can control and affect operations in Asia. With data readily accessible and available, global collaboration and timely decision making are providing BOC with considerable advantages.
 
Challenges in This Solution
One of BOC’s major implementation challenges was having different control systems throughout their global operations (particularly Asia). Matrikon supplied OPC interfaces for all of the various and disparate control systems. The overall scope of the project was another significant challenge. BOC’s operation spans different global regions and cultures, which demanded a strategic implementation plan to ensure they achieved the required consistency.
 
Consistency Realized
Matrikon’s control and information technology software has provided BOC with a platform to achieve improved throughput, control quality, reduce energy consumption and improve plant stability for 50 plants. BOC continues to realize increasing consistency in operations across the globe, and is expecting a full ROI within two years. Without Matrikon’s advanced web-based technology BOC would have incurred the huge financial costs of required custom interfaces, time delays and upgrading their entire IT infrastructure on a plant by plant basis, to simply remain competitive.
 
BOC Rolls Out Solution
After having completed the original implementation at 50 plants, The BOC Group is now expanding its rollout of Matrikon’s complete control and information technology solution to 10 additional plants. The solution includes process data acquisition, control system performance analysis, process monitoring and advanced control technology components.
 
About BOC
The BOC Group is a global industrial gas company. It employs 30,000 people, operates in more than 50 countries, and services some two million customers and achieved sales of just over £4.6 billion in 2005. For more than a century, BOC’s gases and expertise have contributed to advances in many industries and aspects of everyday life, including steel-making, refining, chemical processing, environmental protection, wastewater treatment, welding and cutting, food processing and distribution, glass production, electronics and health care.
 
About Matrikon
Matrikon is a leading provider of industrial intelligence solutions that enable manufacturing plants to achieve operational excellence by transforming production data into knowledge to predict and prevent problems and optimize operations. Matrikon’s customers achieve agile operations through the combination of external market and plant data to make informed, intelligent decisions in real-time. With offices in major cities throughout North America, Australia, Europe and the Middle East and a global client base including industry leaders in a wide range of process industries, Matrikon’s reach is global.
 
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