Prism Systems was chosen for a chemical process manufacturing expansion of powder-based lubricants for Oil & Gas mining. The new facility was designed to produce four times the capacity of the existing production line, using Siemens PCS 7 process control. Unfortunately, the customer found themselves in a tight spot when the original systems integrator was unable to complete the project. Behind schedule, Prism Systems got involved with this project in December 2014, about a year into the installation process. Much of the design and individual equipment setup and testing had already been completed by this time, but there was still a lot left to be finished.
Prism Systems was tasked with:
- Completing the configuration of the PCS 7 process control system
- Implementing process adjustments and adding new features based on results from the owner's trial production tests
- Working with plant personnel to create an efficient, intuitive, and easy-to-use WinCC interface for the operators to control the production line and all of the processes within it
- Completing all development so that the future support remains the responsibility of the owner's engineering and maintenance resources
- Dramatically increased production capacity
- New state-of-the-art control system with future capabilities to add new features or process changes, as needed
- Additional process automation yielding tighter process control and product quality
- Expanded data collection and reporting capabilities
- Siemens PCS 7 Distributed Control System
- Siemens SIMATIC WinCC
Prism Systems' engineers confronted a rare challenge getting started. It is not often that we are tasked with assuming the integration role so late in the implementation of a project. Our biggest challenge in completing this project was to get a working understanding of the plant and original process design. It was clear we would need to identify all of the manufacturing equipment to be controlled, and further identify all remaining equipment that had not yet been completed.
Ideally, the engineering on a project of this magnitude would flow rather smoothly from contractor to contractor. The jokes are true – we are a fairly analytical bunch. Unfortunately the hand-off from the previous systems integrator was rather disorganized. Further, the owner did not have a process engineer that understood what had already been completed, and more importantly what had not. It turned out that most of the automated sequences for controlling the different portions of the process had not even been started.
Game on! Prism Systems was now the 'expert' after few short weeks. Through early conversations with the plant personnel about how the process was supposed to operate, and reading the limited documentation available for the design of the system, we were able to implement sequences for all individual parts of the process.
New sequences included:
- Creating batches in the mixing tanks with varying amounts of each chemical for all different recipes
- Transferring these batches from the mix tanks to one of six reactor vessels as chosen by the operators
- Injecting the chemicals into the reactor vessel to initiate the reaction
- Transferring the reacted chemicals (now in a gel-like form) from the reactor vessels to the granulation system, and then to a fluid-bed dryer to remove excess moisture
- Transferring from the fluid-bed dryer through a milling & sieving system to reduce the particle sizes within specification and into the finished-product silos
With the process sequence in hand, the final step was to create an efficient, intuitive, and easy-to-use WinCC operator interface for control of the production line. Similar to the process control, some initial development was in place including the built-in PCS 7 AP Library blocks for the motors, valves, and other equipment.
Development remaining to be completed included:
- Providing the operators the ability to edit parameter values
- Buttons for starting, stopping, and aborting each portion of the process
- Process control programming standards highlighting conditions preventing a process from starting or continuing
- Equipment, alarm, and interlock descriptions
This project was not without its challenges, but we are all proud of the result. The owner's chemical plant is running approximately four times the original production capacity. Further, Prism Systems was asked to extend development beyond startup to further refine process control. That said, we are all glad this one is now complete and back in the hands of the owner. WIN WIN.