Improving Petrochemical Plant Operational Performance

by | Aug 10, 2017 | Industrial IoT

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Editor

Emerson's David Gustafson


Top performing petrochemical producers operate safely and securely, reliably, use energy efficiently, and achieve operational efficiently. The difference between top and average performance can be and has been measured across these four areas. In fact, it is estimated that across the global industrial sector, annually as much as $1 trillion is lost as a result of subpar performance.

I connected with Emerson’s David Gustafson about a new 4-step roadmap process for petrochemical producers to improve operational performance. This process is described in a whitepaper, 4-Step Roadmap to Top Quartile Performance, which you can register to download. I highlight a few items from the whitepaper.

Whitepaper: 4-Step Roadmap to Top Quartile PerformancePerformers in the top quartile of their industry peers achieve:

  • HSSE [Health, Safety, Security and Environment]: 3X fewer recordable process incidents
  • Reliability: 4% higher availability and half the maintenance costs
  • Energy: 30% lower emissions and 30% less energy use
  • Process: 20% lower operating costs and 10% higher utilization rate

Moving into this top quartile of performers also means your plant can experience a 15% improvement in operating margins. Headwinds from achieving these levels of performance improvement include increasing regulatory compliance challenges, aging plant equipment, use of different from traditional feedstocks, and loss of expertise from retirements.

While easy to state the four steps to improvement, in practice they can be difficult to implement. These steps include:

  1. Identifying areas for improvement
  2. Acquiring data
  3. Analyzing the data
  4. Taking corrective action

The identification of areas starts with:

…determining the economic value associated with improved operational visibility. For example, what’s it worth to know an asset is about to fail, or is operating inefficiently? What would knowing whether or not you could get another two weeks of operation out of your heat exchanger or furnace be worth? Once economic value is estimated, consider what measurements and variables are needed to make an informed decision.

In many petrochemical plants, the measurements to improve non-control functions are missing, but can be easily added with wireless, non-intrusive sensors without impacting the process. Download the whitepaper to learn more about the 4-steps and build a plan for operational improvements.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.