Develop, Test and Train for Lower Risk Projects

One way to improve the probability for a successful process automation project is to include dynamic simulation during the design phases to help with configuring the control system, testing before commissioning the system and training the operators before the process goes live.

In an earlier post, Building Competency through Operator Training Systems, we highlighted the application of operator training simulators (OTS) using Standard Entities for the Engineering of Dynamic Simulators (SEEDS), which consists of a library of native DeltaV distributed control system simulation objects, such as vessels, heat exchangers, centrifugal pumps and valves. These objects enable the development of a medium fidelity dynamic simulation. This medium fidelity model uses a mass and heat balance of the process within the model and runs automatically responding to operator and system actions per the actual process behavior.

Emerson's Ronnie Bains

I spoke recently with Emerson’s Ronnie Bains who shared a story of a recent dynamic simulation project with a leading pharmaceutical manufacturer. The project had three primary drivers including control system strategy development, control system testing and checkout and operator training. This project was being used as a blueprint for a global standard for all process automation projects globally. The project was also the first application of SEEDS in the Life Sciences/Pharmaceutical industry for Emerson.

Using the SEEDS library with the DeltaV OTS application, the process model integrated reactors, receiving tank and vacuum pumps with around 250 I/O points into the model. DeltaV OTS is a simulation-based operator training solution that exposes plant operations personnel to what they will experience in their actual control room, enabling them to accelerate their learning and gain experience through realistic and hands-on training in a safe, controlled environment.

SEEDS provide an object based approach to dynamic simulation model development. Traditionally, dynamic simulation of a process requires the integrated control and safety system (ICSS) database to be available to proceed. However, this is not the case with the SEEDS object-based modeling approach. This approach allows the process model to be developed independently of any ICSS configuration, improving efficiency of model development, reducing cost and the overall project schedule. SEEDS objects can dragged and dropped from the library into the simulation modules within the DeltaV Control Studio environment, before being connected together to develop an integrated simulation of a facility. Process specific design data can then be entered into the required parameters to reflect the actual details of a process.


For this project, the dynamic simulation was used to develop and test the recipes required to run this batch process. The simulation could run a control recipe based upon a predefined master recipe in the simulated offline environment in virtualized DeltaV Application Stations.

For the training portion of the project, a simulated environment was created which approximated what the live production environment would be like once the project was commissioned. The training was designed to be instructor led and include plant operators, technicians, engineers and new employees.

The training simulations included abnormal situations including valve failure, agitator motor failure, process stop and hold manual interventions, I/O failure, out of range temperatures and stuck recipe conditions. These abnormalities help the operations staff practice the recovery steps to regain normal operations and achieve a deeper understanding of how the process works.

Ronnie shared with me that the entire project took 12 weeks to complete and the SEEDS library is being built out to include additional projects. While these dynamic simulation projects have been common in other industries such as refining and petrochemicals, they have not been as common in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

You can connect and interact with other DeltaV and simulation experts in the DeltaV and Implement & Build groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.