CASE STUDY: Harnessing the Power of Rockwell & Ignition to Automate a Chemical Plant’s Batch Control System
DSI was tasked with delivering a fully automated Batch Control System for a chemical plant’s new Reactor Train. The existing reactors at the plant were entirely manually operated. The aim was to establish a streamlined, user-friendly, automated control system following the ISA S88 batch control standards. This system was designed to minimize human error and be operable by staff without prior experience with automated systems.
DSI’s role encompassed P&ID design, hardware specification, supplying field devices (valves, flow meters, sensors, load cells), panel fabrication, installation support, Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT), commissioning services, and startup support. The project started with a pre-engineering phase to complete the initial P&IDs and establish a scope of work and a budget.
The new process equipment included a batch reactor, two pre-mix tanks, three raw material/catalyst mix tanks, and manual addition scales. DSI designed a custom built Conex for the MCC/electrical room and a new control room equipped with multiple monitors and operator stations, remote touch screen interfaces and Class 1 Division 2 wireless tablets for operators and maintenance personnel to monitor and control the process equipment.
A notable feature was DSI’s remote automation services for our customers chemical tank, facilitating remote commissioning, testing, and reporting via a secure VPN.
To achieve these results, DSI implemented a Rockwell PlantPAx and FactoryTalk Batch solution along with an Ignition based historian and reporting application. DSI used the Ignition software for enhanced functionality in batch reporting, alarm tracking, automated alerts, trending, and data management. This Ignition application is also used for tracking and reporting on the facilities wastewater management system.
Process Knowledge and Development
- Leveraged internal knowledge of the production process and specific product expertise.
- Utilized existing manual Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to develop an automated batch production system.
Automation System Implementation
- Implemented a Fault-Tolerant and Virtualized server-based Batch Automation System.
- Utilized Rockwell Automation’s hardware and software for advanced control, interface, and reporting.
- Employed Rockwell PlantPAx standard for enhanced functionality.
- Integrated FactoryTalk SE Network for distributed operator interface.
- Configured Thin Manager/Client and FactoryTalk Batch software.
- Operated applications on multiple Virtual Servers including Batch Server, HMI Server, and others for resource optimization.
- Utilized Class 1 Division 2 wireless tablets for operations and maintenance personnel.
Design Phase and Specifications
- Provided detailed Functional Specifications for the system.
- Specifications based on final Process & Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID) and knowledge of batch control systems.
- Selected specific automation components suitable for the system.
- Design documents included P&IDs, Control Narratives, and various other technical drawings and verification tests.
Procurement and Testing
- Procured and delivered instruments, valves, and field devices in a trailer with organized shelving to serve as an onsite instrument shop for project duration.
- Conducted comprehensive testing including operation verification of valves, sensor scaling, and power-up tests.
- Preconfigured Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs), Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and server software.
Installation and Configuration
- Designed and procured a Conex shipping container pre-installed with the Rackmount Server enclosure, PLC enclosure, I/O enclosure, VFD/Motor Enclosure, transformers and main disconnect.
- Ensured easy component identification and access during installation.
- DSI assisted in the creation of the first two Batch Recipe Procedures
Batch Control Process and Reporting
- Provided insights into the batch control process via Ignition software.
- Used Ignition Perspective on Microsoft Edge for dynamic trend graph display.
- Generated PDF reports for cycle times and material consumption.
- Automated report emailing for wastewater management.
- Designed the project to be modular for easy retooling and future development.
Initiation of System Commissioning
- Began by validating field devices, then PHA safety interlocks testing, and then process control sequence logic testing.
Testing Phase Progression
- Each phase was tested individually.
- The first two batches were tested using water (water batching).
- Began testing with actual raw materials within five weeks.
- Successfully achieved qualified material on first test batch.
On-site Support and System Handover
- Provided on-site support for an additional three weeks.
- Focused on making necessary adjustments and resolving issues.
- Officially handed over the completed system to our customer’s operators.
- Ensured continued remote support through DSI’s hotline service.
Successful System Commissioning and Integration
- The commissioning phase successfully validated the functionality of various field devices, safety interlocks, and the accuracy of the process control logic. This was a critical milestone, demonstrating the seamless integration of the new system into the existing infrastructure.
- Our team ensured that the control system’s hardware and software components functioned cohesively, with the PlantPAx Distributed Control System and FactoryTalk SE Network operating in tandem for optimized batch control and operator interface.
Advanced Control System Functionality
- Post-integration, the system displayed advanced capabilities in controlling the reactor, tanks, and mixers, thanks to the application of Rockwell Automation’s latest technologies. The system’s user interface was praised for its ease of use and ability to be managed by operators with no prior experience in automated systems.
- The implementation of Ignition software over the existing FactoryTalk batch system enhanced the system’s batch reporting, alarming, and data management capabilities, a significant improvement over the previously manual operations.
Efficient Project Execution and Design Fulfillment
- The project’s execution in phases allowed for regular review and adaptation, ensuring that the system met the detailed functional specifications and adhered to the final Process & Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID). These phases were instrumental in aligning the project with the client’s requirements and industry standards.
- The design phase’s attention to detail in selecting specific automation components and the organization of field devices facilitated a smooth installation and configuration process. This thorough planning paid dividends in the system’s overall efficiency and reliability.
Enhanced Batch Production and Testing
- Within five weeks of commissioning, the system advanced to testing with actual raw materials, rapidly achieving qualified material production. This quick progression was a testament to the system’s robust design and the efficacy of the preconfigured VFDs, PLCs, and server software.
- The testing phase’s success highlighted the system’s capability to handle real-world operational demands, meeting the high standards set for batch production in the chemical industry.
Operational Handover and Ongoing Support
- After providing three additional weeks of on-site support to make necessary adjustments and resolve any issues, the system was officially handed over to our customer’s operators. This transition marked the completion of a critical phase where DSI’s role shifted from system implementation to support.
- DSI’s commitment to ongoing support through our hotline service ensured that the customer had continuous access to expert assistance, guaranteeing the long-term success and operational stability of the newly automated system.
Modular Design and Future Proofing
- The modular design of the project, coupled with the use of virtual server applications, facilitated future retooling and development. This approach not only streamlined the current project but also laid the groundwork for easier upgrades and scalability.
The Batch Control System project undertaken by DSI for the chemical plant represents a significant advancement in the client’s automated batch processing. The project’s success is attributed to meticulous planning, cutting-edge technology, and a phased approach that ensured thorough testing and efficient implementation. The system now stands as a model for similar future endeavors in the field of chemical manufacturing and process automation.