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December 4, 2006

Headlines from Today's Activities
- Asset Performance Management Through Enterprise Control
- A Specialty Chemical Maker's Search for Operational Excellence
- On the Near Future of Automation: Chris and Don's Fireside Chat
- Invensys to Implement Cutler's Next-Generation Controller

Asset Performance Management Through Enterprise Control
Invensys Process Systems' Ken Brown, or "KB" as the troops refer to their acting president, talked about what Invensys has done over the past couple of years as he kicked off the General Session of the 2006 Invensys Process Systems Customer Conference this morning at the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas. "We've created a unified company with a single strategic direction, strong financial performance, and the first Enterprise Control System, InFusion."

"It is critical to us," he said, "to have the customer interaction we'll get at this event."

He discussed the strategic direction of the company, toward performance services, new technologies, and advanced applications. "It is about integrating our portfolio of companies and products and leveraging them for our customers' benefit," he said. "We know," he continued, "what challenges our customers are facing: the need to maximize economic value from assets, to move from re-active to pro-active operations, to balance availability with utilization, to manage risk and complexity, and, above all, manage the continued and relentless pressure to reduce costs."

"We have therefore become the Asset Performance Management company," he declared. "All of our core products support APM, not just the brands, but the services that tie on and work with each brand. Those Performance Services include base asset management, asset optimization, business performance management and operations performance management."

"So we needed to produce a way to tie all those brands, all those products, all those services together, and we created the world's first Enterprise Control System, InFusion."

Invensys vice president of performance management, Dr. Peter Martin, then took the stage to carry on the discussion of the company’s vision of the future of automation. He described a long-term study Invensys performed with over 400 companies and CEOs. The most interesting thing they discovered was the reason that return on investment for automation and integration projects is not measured. CFOs don't do real-time business metrics, and so the value of lifecycle benefit just isn't seen, Martin said. The result was Invensys' development with Harvard University of "Real Time Accounting." This makes the value visible.

"And, if you will note, the model here looks a whole lot like a control loop. A cascade control loop. A double cascade loop, in fact. We need to recognize that we need to match the dynamics of business, not just the dynamics of the process," Martin said.

This also explains the traditional plant conflict between operations and maintenance: operations maximizes utilization, while maintenance maximizes availability..."and asset value is an inverse function between utilization and availability."

"Once a company is looking at the economic value vector, this becomes the business control vector and we can control to it. This is Asset Performance Management," Martin declared.

And in order to perform Asset Performance Management, you need a framework through which all the disparate pieces of information and applications can interoperate: an Enterprise Control System. "And that's InFusion. That's the Invensys value proposition: asset performance being driven by the power of InFusion," Martin concluded.

"It's about integrating the portfolio. It's about bringing all the different pieces together." Under the theme of "Know More, Act Faster," Invensys Process Systems' Ken Brown addressed more than 800 of the company faithful this morning in Dallas.

 

"Our challenge has evolved from running the plant to optimizing the plant to now optimizing the business." Invensys Process Systems' Peter Martin on the need to close financial-side feedback mechanisms in order to enable enterprise control.

 

A Specialty Chemical Maker's Search for Operational Excellence
During his keynote address this morning to the Invensys Process Systems user conference, John Snodgrass, process control engineer, found plenty of people with whom to commiserate.

His company, Chemtura, didn't exist as an entity just a few years ago, having been cobbled together from the global operations of a number of specialty chemical companies serving the rubber and plastics industries. The end result: a global enterprise but with plants using a wide variety of automation technologies.

"We're not uncommon," Snodgress said, "in that we run SAP on top, but at the plant level we have a multi-vendor automation environment that can't be replaced." Snodgrass went on to describe his company's use of SAP for many enterprise functions, but with the frequent need for human touches to feed information from duplicate plant-level systems and processes—many of them home-grown, undocumented and threatened by the aging demographics of the company work-force.

The company's control systems are islands of automation, he added, "typically sending information up, but inward data flow does not occur." A lot of time is spent finding information and generating multiple reports based on different roles within the organization, he added. "Can you imagine how much time that takes?" he asked.

Against this backdrop, Chemtura has undertaken to envision what a corporate-wide framework, integrating and automating these information flows and access, would look like. "I want the system to tell me when I have variances—and not at the end of the month. And we have to get data and systems out of people's desks."

The company has taken its first steps on its journey, implementing enterprise control system concepts to get the right information into the right peoples' hands at the right time. One example he described consisted of simply providing the foreman and engineer responsible for a particular unit with the proper real-time key performance indicators. The result? A compelling 20% improvement in production while simultaneously lowering costs by 4%. Across the company, the company anticipates that they can reduce manpower requirements by 5-10% and reduce operating costs by 1%, while increasing manufacturing agility and improving customer satisfaction.

Basic interoperability requirements that must be addressed in order to further his company's operational excellence goals, include:

  • Information sharing in real time;
  • Automation status and data validity checks;
  • The flexibility to accommodate human verification of critical decisions;
  • A single interface, with a common look and feel, for operations and configuration; and,
  • Measurable business value right from the beginning.

"But there are no technological problems to address today's demands," Snodgrass added. "Full utilization will require human acceptance—there is a need to build trust."

"We have more metrics than we know what to do with." Chemtura's John Snodrass on the specialty chemical manufacturer's ongoing effort to better integrate and automation information flows around a few key performance metrics.

 

On the Near Future of Automation: Chris and Don's
Fireside Chat

Chris Lyden, vice president of global marketing, and Don Clark, director of industry marketing, for Invensys Process Systems laid out the company's vision for "The Near Future of Automation" in a special press briefing held Sunday evening before kicking off the company's 2006 Customer Conference.

Calling it a "fireside chat" that could better be titled, "What Keeps the Industry Up at Night," Lyden and Clark set the context for the convergence of technological forces that are fundamentally reshaping the practice of practice of process automation. Among their predictions: that wireless sensing, together with growing acceptance of control-in-the-field, will lead to the proliferation of software applications that will leverage an ever increasing number of inputs and outputs (I/O). A typical refinery has gone from 5,000 to 150,000 I/O over the past 40 years, and that number will continue to grow, with relatively inexpensive and ubiquitous sensors measuring much more than the typical flow, level, pressure and temperature variables typical today.

Instead, these sensors will drive applications that will be small, run automatically in the background, and only intrude into the operators' decision space when some variable they're monitoring is out of spec. Lyden gave the example of a pump that comes with a variable frequency drive that is entirely already instrumented wirelessly, to put out signals for temperature, vibration, differential pressure across the pump, speed, flow, and all other variables of interest.

These applications, quite different from traditional control algorithms in a distributed control system, must have a framework in which to operate and communicate, such as the InFusion architecture Invensys debuted earlier this year. And which, they pointed out, is gaining some traction. And wouldn't it be neat, they pointed out, for purchasing agents to be able to initiate queries like, "Which pump performs better in our installations, Gould or Flowserve?" Ubiquitous sensing, coupled with new data mining techniques, will make this possible, Lyden said.

In fact, what will be needed is a completely new human-machine interface metaphor, Lyden added, showing a three-dimensional view of a plant that could be looked at in real time, and present roles-based contextual views of all plant data. "The hypothesis we're testing right now is whether a three-dimensional view of the plant will provide the new visualization metaphor for the coming era of increased cross-functional collaboration—whether through ad hoc meetings in front of large-scale collaboration walls, or through virtual representations." Clark called what is coming, "fighting the tyranny of the now," and said that these technologies will enable us to get beyond operating the plant to finally get to optimizing the business performance of manufacturing assets.

Lyden and Clark believe that we'll see this convergence in three to four years, despite the well known risk-adverse nature of the process industries, and that most of the enablers will come not from the automation companies. "We are blessed to live in a nexus of convergent technologies—many developed outside our industry," Clark added. "All these technologies will provide for a shrinking of the time constant for making decisions—time is the key, faster time to profit."

"By the year 2015, half of all our process engineers will have retired." Invensys Process Systems' Don Clark on the need for a new visualization metaphor that will better enable cross-functional collaboration — within the plant across the planet.

 

"We call it an auto-catalytic process." Invensys Process Systems' Chris Lyden on the self-reinforcing proliferation of measurement points, and the applications that will continue to exploit and enable them.

 

Invensys to Implement Cutler's Next-Generation Controller
Dr. Charles Cutler is widely recognized as one of the earliest developers of advanced process control and model predictive control algorithms and controllers. His DMC and DMCplus are the most widely used multivariable controller technologies in the world.

Dr. Cutler, a member of the Control Process Automation Hall of Fame, announced at the Invensys Process Systems Customer Conference a global agreement for Invensys to market Cutler Technology Corporation's new Adaptive Dynamic Matrix Control technology. This is a non-exclusive agreement, but Cutler said, "I am not going to let just any engineering company have this. Invensys has demonstrated the ability to sell these products." With nearly 300 consultants worldwide, Invensys is now the largest authorized CTC implementer and re-seller, according to Doug Kelly, vice president of global solutions services for Invensys.

Cutler described ADMC as the first major advance in advanced process control in nearly thirty years, as a next generation controller, and as a strong solution in the process industries, with step-out performance against other controller technologies.

"We thought we were in a saturated market, but when we tested the ADMC products, we found that we could improve performance dramatically, even where existing multivariable controller software was in place and operational," Cutler said.

Cutler described a test at a ConocoPhillips FCCU (Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit) as showing "distinctively different performance" than the DMC controller that was already on the unit and used specifically for comparison.

ADMC is a suite of two products: the Operator Advisor simulator (OA), which interfaces with the DCS and updates its basis every five seconds, and the Adaptive Dynamic Matrix Controller itself, which is a multivariable controller with PID dynamics removed from the model. Both products use the same model, and this synergy eliminates maintenance problems that plague many model-predictive controllers.

In the ConocoPhillips FCCU test in July 2006, the fact that ADMC was able to permit all the valves to be driven to 100% without invalidating the model permitted very large performance gains. "And when you open the valves all the way up," Cutler noted, "what you find is that the system is a lot more stable. Production variability significantly decreased."

ADMC removes the dynamics of the PID equation from the hierarchy of the model, and without the PID controllers, the model is now a true dynamic model of the process. Basic process dynamics rarely change, since they derive from vessel sizes, inventories, lengths of pipe, and so forth. So, since model dynamics don't change, maintenance is greatly reduced with a corresponding increase in the controller stream factor. Since the OA simulator runs 150 times real time, and updates the state of the process every five seconds, the operators can model "what ifs" in near real time, any time.

Cutler and Invensys believe that this can be a replacement for every existing multivariable model predictive controller currently installed. He explained that current model-based control technologies operate on valve output—not changes in the process variable itself. Valve stiction introduces variability into the process, "and there are lots of sticky valves," Cutler noted. "Those valves are what make traditional controllers not work. We can deal with them quite well, and since they aren't going to go away, we are a good choice to replace existing controllers."

"Throughput was improved by 10%, and variability was significantly reduced." CTC's Charlie Cutler on the dramatic performance improvements achieved by applying his company's Adaptive Model Based Control to a ConocoPhillips FCCU earlier this year.

 

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