Collaborative Process Automation System (CPAS) For Operational Excellence
Chemical Engineering World|July 2018

Today's chemical industries require automation systems that can help them maximize their return on assets to achieve business advantage, while reducing the cost and effort needed to comply with multiple governmental regulations.

Dick Hill

Today's chemical industries require automation systems that can help them maximize their return on assets to achieve business advantage, while reducing the cost and effort needed to comply with multiple governmental regulations. This includes mandates to increase safety and reduce potentially harmful emissions. In general, the entire chemical industry is seeing a move toward increased automation to reduce costs and compensate for the growing skills shortage. Process automation offers the potential to deliver significant higher return on assets during the lifecycle of a chemical plant. The aim of all process industries, including chemical, is operational excellence, which delivers measurable performance improvements by focusing on doing more with less as well as working more effectively and reducing cost. Effectiveness, agility, and performance visualization are keys to operational excellence.

Keeping all these business requirements and objectives in mind, ARC introduced the CPAS (Collaborative Process Automation System) concept in 2002. Because it is not just about automating processes-it is about collaborating across multiple layers and systems. Since then, based on numerous engagements with end user clients, ARC has identified the top business benefits from CPAS, which are applicable across all process industries, and that includes the chemical industry.

Achieving and sustaining exceptional business performance

Exceptional business performance for most process manufacturers relates closely to achieving operational excellence (OpX). Achievement of true OpX requires continuous improvements through ongoing change. Automation can facilitate that change. The fundamental premise is that, unlike previous technology-focused incremental change, which derived its incremental value from cost reduction and efficiency improvements, the next wave of radical value increase will come from empowering and engaging people with knowledge and authority. In this manner, more people can make the correct decisions more often. Empowering people will require a change in how companies justify spending capital as well as how the resulting information is used.

Increasing asset reliability

Because most heavy industry process plants run continuously and most light industry process plants are expected to perform when needed, reliability is critical. In process plants, the three largest sources of unreliability are:

People – including design, documentation, management of change (MOC), work processes (procedures), etc.

Equipment – manufacturing assets, automation assets, communications assets, etc.

Process – plant dynamics, reliable physics, feedstock variability, utilities, etc.

Reducing complexity and customization

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