Optimised control and operator performance reduces energy costs and quality variation

by , | Jul 18, 2023 | Control & Safety Systems | 0 comments

Guido Wink, vice president, Systems and Software Solutions, Europe, describes some of the many Emerson software solutions that are helping organisations to increase their throughput, yield and profitability through better control of processes.


A fundamental aim at process plants is to increase profitability by maximising throughput and yield while reducing energy consumption. To achieve this, processes must consistently operate at their optimal point, which requires good process control and operator performance.

“The benefits of performance optimisation can include up to 8% more throughput, up to 10% less energy costs, a reduction of up to 80% in quality variation, and an increase of up to 5% in equipment availability.”

To achieve optimised control of processes, it is key that process stability is maintained and variability minimised. However, for reasons such as poor valve performance, incorrect loop tuning and inappropriate control strategies, this often does not happen. This can then require operators to make manual interventions to bring the process back under control, taking them away from other tasks and introducing the potential for human error.

The first building block towards improved control performance is making sure that a plant’s process control loops are working well. Studies show that in a typical process plant, almost two-thirds of control loops will be underperforming. This results in increased variability and processes being run conservatively, which adversely impacts throughput, yield and energy consumption.

Many organisations lack the tools and resources needed to monitor and maintain hundreds of control loops, but Emerson can provide a range of software solutions to help them. Among these is DeltaV™ InSight, a powerful control monitoring and tuning application that enables companies to improve their process control by monitoring and reporting control performance, identifying and diagnosing problem loops, and recommending tuning and maintenance improvements.


Advanced control and optimisation

Emerson also provides software to support more complex and challenging applications that require advanced control and optimisation solutions. For example, DeltaV InSight also supports closed loop adaptive control through DeltaV Adapt, an extension to the application that uses process models and adaptive tuning calculations to provide continuous loop tuning for processes with non-linear or changing response dynamics.

DeltaV InSight also enables the easy tuning of DeltaV Fuzzy function blocks, for improved process quality, throughput and efficiency. DeltaV Fuzzy function blocks offer a practical, field-proven substitute for PID control. The patented algorithm provides faster, tighter response and superior performance over traditional PID control on many loops.

To obtain online measurements that were previously available only through lab analysis or online analysers, the DeltaV Neural application provides a practical way to create virtual or inferential sensors. DeltaV Neural is easy to understand and use, with its calculations enabling more tightly controlled product quality, in turn leading to increased yield and reduced giveaway.

Another advanced control application that can help organisations get the most from their plant is Emerson’s DeltaV PredictPro model predictive control function block, which uses the power of model predictive control to address process interaction and difficult dynamics. It easily handles the challenges of excessive deadtime, long time constants, inverse responses and loop interactions, enabling reduced variability and increased throughput and profitability. Since the application is fully embedded in the DeltaV distributed control system, pre-engineered components and function blocks can be used to quickly develop, validate, test and deploy multivariable control strategies.


Operator performance

A major factor affecting plant throughput and profitability is reduced availability due to unplanned shutdowns. According to a study by the ASM Consortium, approximately 42% of unplanned shutdowns in the process industries are caused by operational or human error. This is not to imply that operators are incapable, merely that their working lives are becoming ever more complex, and a good example of this is process alarm management.

When there is a process upset in a large process plant, operators can be flooded with hundreds of process alarms in the space of just a few minutes. To help them when this happens, Emerson’s DeltaV Alarm Mosaic software provides an easy-to-comprehend view of the alarm flood, accompanied by tools to help quickly identify root cause conditions.

To make the operator’s job easier still, Emerson offers AgileOps™ software – a complete alarm management solution. Operators are presented with alarms which are appropriate to the current operation, alarm performance is tracked, and alarm configuration changes are tracked and audited. This enables the implementation of the IEC 62682 and ISA 18.2 alarm management lifecycles.

AgileOps consists of several modules, including one for dynamic alarm management. This is a powerful process management tool that allows alarm configurations to change as the operating state changes. This has been proven to eliminate alarm floods during upset conditions, enabling operators to focus on stabilising the plant rather than responding to unnecessary alarms.

Another factor that makes the work of operators more difficult is poor HMI design, which can make it harder for them to quickly notice abnormal conditions. To combat this, Emerson provides its advanced DeltaV Live HMI, which has been designed in accordance with the best practices outlined in the ISA 101 standard to support high-performance operator graphics. The HMI is designed to allow operators to see critical information how, when and where they need it. It has built-in display hierarchies – enabling quicker navigation through the control system and faster operator actions – and natively supports HTML5, laying the foundation for universal, cross-platform graphics that are easy to design and configure.

Through all these software solutions, Emerson is helping users to achieve their ultimate aim of operating their processes safely and at the optimal point economically – putting them on the path to Top Quartile performance.

Find out more about how Emerson’s software solutions can help you enhance your control and operator performance.

Read the entire Innovations in Automation Issue 18. “Emerson industrial software solutions help drive greater efficiency, environmental sustainability and profitability “


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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.

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