The hydrocarbon industry is rapidly evolving, adapting to support new product demand, increased focus on sustainability, and an increasing need for flexibility. As a result, hydrocarbon process manufacturers have needed to dramatically change the toolbox they employ to support their operations.
As Dustin Beebe and Monil Malhotra explain in their recent article in Hydrocarbon Engineering magazine, hydrocarbon manufacturers have more need than ever to stay flexible. Gone are the days where an increase in production means spinning up a new plant. Today’s organizations typically have neither the staff, nor the resources for such expansion. Instead, they are looking for ways to use automation to improve their existing operations. And industrial software is key to this strategy,
“Industrial software, particularly in the areas of intelligence and automation, can be used to create the foresight necessary to accomplish these and other goals, empowering organizations to continually meet the changing needs of a shifting global marketplace.”
Success through simulation
Dustin and Monil focus very closely on simulation as a critical tool to help hydrocarbon processors successfully implement the changes necessary to drive better performance. Process simulation, they explain, helps organizations adapt to change using a virtual model of the plant. This “digital twin” model helps the organization test new strategies, technologies, and operations without any risk to live equipment.
And when the team has landed on a successful new strategy or technology, the simulation continues to deliver value as a training tool. Operators can use the simulation to practice their new strategies and see the results of their decisions as if they were working on live equipment—often in parallel with installation and configuration of any new technologies. By the time a new system comes online, the operators are already prepared to use it effectively.
The benefits are significant. As Monil and Dustin explain,
“Often, these systems provide integrated tools to improve workflows, increase safety, lower costs, and drive improved energy management and more sustainable operations.”
Managing the new frontier
As plants begin to digitalize their operations for better performance, they will be adding more than just simulation software. New safety systems, alarm solutions, control systems and more will help teams ensure operational integrity as they implement new processes and equipment. Operations management software is critical to helping teams monitor and maintain these new systems. Using such a solution, operations teams can more easily adjust alarm configurations, monitor integrity of safety systems, monitor bypasses, and more to help ensure the plant runs safely and efficiently—even when operating in unfamiliar territory with new solutions.
Other solutions for improved success
Dustin and Monil explore a number of other industrial software solutions including operations testing, risk and scenario simulation, and more. They also offer some short case studies that demonstrate the need for these technologies. You can learn more by reading the article in its entirety over at Hydrocarbon Engineering.