Improving operational performance is a good area to look for financial improvements to justify replacing your old control system. Almost all process units have operational issues that can be improved to provide better financial performance. Automation may be a large contributor to financial improvements by addressing specific operational issues and poor key performance indicator (KPI) performance through control improvements.
Those of us that have run process operational units, develop operating strategies or have had to troubleshoot poor operating performance understand the important role process automation plays in running a process unit at optimal performance.
Poor control loop performance producing process variability is a major culprit. A varying process causes operators to run the process a safe distance from the control loop constraint. Eliminating control loop variability is critical to running near the constraint values that provide the most profitable operating conditions.
Manual operator actions are also a source of variability. The use of automated sequencing ensures that the best method will be used consistently. Additional process measurements, more automated control points, complex control loops, advanced control and automated sequencing are all tools that can be used for process optimization.
So how do we go about finding the improvement opportunities and estimating what the financial gain may be? How do we get production management to buy in? What have others done and what are the best practices to follow?
These are all topics we will discuss during the October 12-16 Emerson Exchange conference short course: Getting Your Brownfield Automation Project Approved. Join us to learn more about automation project justification. Register by August 15 to save $200 with the Early Bird registration rate.
From Jim: If you’re unable to join us in Denver for the conference, make sure to check out some of the posts we’ve shared from John over the years on project justification.
Also, you can connect and interact with other control system migration and modernization experts in the Improve & Modernize group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.