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Digital automation leading to business improvement

05 January 2009

Emerson Process Management has congratulated Otto Schnurr, Operations Director for Ineos ChlorVinyls at Runcorn, UK, for innovative employee-led business improvement using digital automation. Ineos ChlorVinyls employees have achieved a broad range of improvements to their liquid chlorine manufacturing processes and operations at the site by implementing PlantWeb digital plant architecture with Foundation fieldbus communications technology.

Digital automation leading to business improvement
Digital automation leading to business improvement

Ineos ChlorVinyls is one of Europe's leading chemical and petrochemical companies.

“We are delighted to recognise the outstanding accomplishments by Ineos ChlorVinyls employees,” commented Marien van den Hoek, Emerson’s global account director for Ineos. “While many of our customers use PlantWeb digital architecture on their journey of continuous improvement, the Ineos ChlorVinyls site at Runcorn is a leader in digital modernisation in Europe.”

The Ineos ChlorVinyls automation team at Runcorn decided early-on to partner with a supplier that could help them develop a process automation strategy to maximise results from installed equipment. The resulting automation changes have modernised the facility, helping to increase efficiency, minimise plant downtime, and reduce operational costs.

Over the last few years, the Runcorn site has successfully implemented significant plant upgrades, commissioned a major plant, installed control systems, and transferred control from existing plant areas to a purpose built central control room. These complex changes have been achieved without incident and without loss of production. Today, Ineos ChlorVinyls is implementing best practice in many aspects of its business, which have led to some outstanding results.

Savings were made on the cost of capital projects; with Emerson’s PlantWeb architecture as a basis, the plant moved away from traditional commissioning to a new approach that significantly reduced testing and re-work. Operational excellence was achieved; by networking smart devices throughout, enabling optimum control while continuously gathering diagnostics data that is used for asset optimisation, including predictive maintenance, personnel are able to use the data to optimise plant performance whilst correcting equipment and process issues before they can interrupt production.

Maintenance savings were made through the use of partial stroke testing on control valves. Traditionally, valves had been selected for overhaul during a shutdown based on length of service since the last overhaul, or known problems, and those that are critical to the process. As a result, valves would sometimes be overhauled unnecessarily, and some that needed overhaul could be overlooked.

Fortunately, PlantWeb digital architecture runs diagnostic tests on-line so that failures are predictable, and valve repair is directed at valves where needed. It is expected that this approach will significantly reduce the number of valves being overhauled and without any risk to personnel safety or plant reliability.

The investment in instrumentation, control and systems infrastructure has met Ineos ChlorVinyls' project objectives and achieved target benefits. Ongoing improvement is planned to further exploit the installed systems.

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