Integrated process control system supports ‘agile’ manufacturing needs

04 January 2011

A clear focus upon operational efficiency needs to be at the forefront of any business priority - particularly in the current tough economic environment.

Siemens Industry Automation has been working with UK-based chemical and pharmaceutical intermediates manufacturer, Phoenix Chemicals to provide process control solutions that have helped deliver three key benefits - enhanced production flexibility, improved product consistency and a reduction in costs.

The enhancements are based around Siemens’ PCS7 process control system, which allows Phoenix engineering personnel to configure the control system to meet changing production requirements, without having to rely on outside expertise.

The working relationship began in 2002. Since then Siemens has installed four PCS7 process control systems at Phoenix’s processing facilities, with plans now in place to add a fifth system in the near future.

Phoenix Chemicals manufactures products to meet the needs of customers across international markets, with a typical example being the production of APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) for the highly competitive pharmaceutical industry.
Phoenix’s management team was seeking improvements in both the operational efficiency of its production processes, as well as a need to remove the potential for product inconsistencies during production due to operator actions. The PCS7 automated process control systems installed on the various continuous production processes have helped address these objectives.

The PCS7 system has also resulted in a reduction in numbers of required operator personnel as remotely-mounted operator stations deliver the same operational solution. The control system has enabled the business to reduce its ongoing service, maintenance and training needs with a dramatic effect on costs.

Such tangible benefits are seen across the varied production processes implemented by Phoenix Chemicals with typical process control automation applications including a wiped film evaporation plant and a multi reactor API plant whilst another PCS7 application is dedicated to laboratory work where chemicals are developed in micro-bore piping.

An essential element behind the success of the PCS7 applications on site has been the rigorous development and testing of the required applications by Phoenix engineers and process technology staff. This has meant that the designated applications and subsequent PCS7 solutions have been integral to the needs of the business and fully understood by on-site staff from the earliest stage. The collaborative approach has proven beneficial, particularly when further system enhancements have been made, as both testing and documentation were able to be delivered in a timely and straightforward manner - ultimately saving Phoenix cost on service support and training expenditure.

Integral for the PCS7 solution is its ability to use Profibus digital networks which are used on the manufacturing site to communicate with intelligent motor drives and field instrumentation - including those installed by other vendors. With its integrated central database and specific Profibus management tools, the solution of offering the PCS7 control system alongside industrial PCs and network switches, as well as local Siemens’ technical support means that Phoenix Chemicals has benefitted from a completely integrated and supported package that has delivered benefits in production.

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