Online simulator promises greater plant optimisation

04 February 2014

Yokogawa Electric Corporation will shortly begin offering new solutions for optimising plant operations in the oil & gas, petrochemical, and other industries, as part of Yokogawa’s VigilantPlant Services suite, to support safe, stable, and highly efficient plant operations. The technology underlying these solutions is the company’s newly developed MIRROR PLANT online simulator.

The MIRROR PLANT simulator is able to visualise the internal state of a plant process and make near-term predictions on plant behaviour. The simulator operates in synchronisation with the plant control system.
There has been an increasing focus on improving plant safety and strengthening competitiveness by making plants more efficient. For example, in the chemical industry, plant operators need to manage or adjust the state of catalysts and the composition of the reagents and product materials in a chemical reactor in real time, to optimise plant productivity and product quality. However, many of the process variables are difficult to measure or cannot be measured directly. Based on actual process information, such as flow rate, temperature, and pressure, simulation technology is able to make predictions on items that cannot be measured in real time. For example, the amount of each component in a product, to simulate the state of a plant. Using high-speed calculations the simulator can make near-term predictions on the state of a plant. Operators are then able to anticipate events and take action earlier to ensure safe operation.
The online plant simulator operates in synchronisation with the plant control system and constantly updates a process model.
Based on real-time manufacturing process information and using a proprietary function for adjusting model parameters, MIRROR PLANT simulates the state of a plant. By using plant models, it visualises the current state of the plant, the state of the plant up to several hours in the future, and the state at plant locations where it is not possible to measure temperature or pressure. It then displays these results on screen at a CENTUM VP integrated production control system operator terminal or at a standard PC. 

MIRROR PLANT also has an alarm function that can alert operators to potential problems. As such, it enables Yokogawa’s customers to operate their plants safely and efficiently while maintaining product quality.
Yokogawa offers consulting and engineering services for building the simulation models that are key to MIRROR PLANT’s effectiveness. The simulation models used in MIRROR PLANT are based on physical laws not statistical data from plant operations, so processes can be theoretically verified, and the simulator can be used for a range of applications such as identifying problems in a process. The optimum operating conditions can then be identified before making changes.
A field test of MIRROR PLANT was conducted from 2011 to 2013 at a plant of Mitsui Chemicals, Inc., and the results showed that it efficiently stabilised and optimised the operation of a distillation tower. As a result, MIRROR PLANT won the Technology Award from the Society of Instrument and Control Engineers (SICE), which commended this innovative technology for boosting plant productivity and safety.

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