Monday, 3 February 2014

Looking inside your plant process!

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


MIRROR PLANT was developed based on the OmegaLand integrated dynamic simulation environment and its core technology, the Visual Modeler plant simulator. OmegaLand and Visual Modeler are software packages that were developed by Yokogawa’s subsidiary, Omega Simulation Co., Ltd. OmegaLand builds virtual plants and simulates their operation under conditions that are close to the actual state. These are used for plant operator training and process design in the oil & gas and petrochemical industries.
The MIRROR PLANT simulator can visualise the internal state of a plant process and make near-term predictions on plant behaviour. An industry first, this simulator operates in synchronisation with the plant control system and features the good performance required in commercial plants.

Development background
In recent years, there has been increasing focus on improving plant safety and strengthening competitiveness by making plants more efficient. For example, in the chemical industry, plant operators need, in real time, to manage or adjust the state of catalysts and the composition of the reagents and product materials in a chemical reactor, to optimise both 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 can make predictions on items that cannot be measured in real time: for example, the amount of each component in a product, and thus simulate the state of a plant. By means of high-speed calculations, the simulator can make near-term predictions on the state of a plant. Operators can then anticipate events and take action earlier to ensure safe operation.

Yokogawa and its subsidiary, Omega Simulation Co., Ltd., jointly developed the MIRROR PLANT online plant simulator. It operates in synchronisation with the plant control system and constantly updates a process model. Based on this simulator, Yokogawa will offer support solutions that help its customers optimise their plant operations.

The MIRROR PLANT simulator operates in synchronisation with the plant control system. Based on real-time manufacturing process information and using a proprietary function for adjusting model parameters, it precisely simulates the state of a plant. By using plant models, the simulator 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, this solution can help Yokogawa’s customers 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. Yokogawa’s highly experienced process control engineers provide customers with these services. The simulation models used in MIRROR PLANT are based not on statistical data from plant operations, but on physical laws. Thus, processes can be theoretically verified, and the simulator can be used for a broad range of applications such as identifying problems in a process. The optimum operating conditions can then be identified before making changes to items such as the production volume or the feed material composition. Based on MIRROR PLANT, Yokogawa offers these services to help its customers optimise their plant operations.

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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