UOP pioneering 'optimization-as-a-service'

Vietnamese, Saudi processors among first subscribers to Honeywell continuous optimization offering

By Keith Larson

Refineries and petrochemical facilities are among the most complex process optimization challenges in the industrial world. Raw materials of varying composition, a multiplicity of final products as well as multiple, interacting continuous processes have long challenged model-builders to predict, control and optimize the real-time behavior of these billion-dollar assets.

There exist real-time optimizers that can rise to the challenge, but too often optimization is

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Honeywell UOP's Zak Alzein

treated as a project, a discrete event, notes Zak Alzein, vice president and general manager, Connected Performance Services, for Honeywell UOP. Exchangers foul, feed compositions change, and catalysts lose potency. “Models degrade over time, and a lot of expertise is needed to maintain performance and results,” he says. “Sometimes a project team returns to an optimized site after a year or two only to find the optimizer turned off.”

The advent of secure cloud environments together with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is representative of the enabling technologies that now allow UOP to marry its deep process know-how with software to solve difficult problems for its customers on a continuous basis. Honeywell is uniquely positioned to deliver on this promise in part because UOP process technology is so pervasive across the global refining and petrochemicals landscape. This allows Honeywell to up the ante on other providers’ basic equipment monitoring solutions, providing reliability, optimization, utility management and predictive maintenance services on entire processes—not just pieces of equipment, Alzein says. “It’s more complex, but we can deliver more value over time on a platform that allows for continuous innovation.”

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The service continuously monitors streaming plant data and applies UOP process models and best practices, big data analytics, and machine learning to find latent and emerging performance problems, alert plant personnel and make specific operational recommendations. These recommendations are reported simultaneously to a dedicated Honeywell UOP process advisor, who also monitors performance and provides additional direction and resources.

Connected Performances Services (CPS) was launched in September, 2016, as joint offering between Honeywell’s UOP and Process Solutions business units, and already has signed on PetroVietnam subsidiary Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Co., Ltd., (BSR) as well as AL WAHA Petrochemicals Company of Jubail, Saudi Arabia.  

BSR has subscribed to Connected Performance Services to improve refinery and plant performance at its naphtha complex in Quang Ngai City, Vietnam. “The CPS system is an important tool to help our refinery produce more gasoline and consume less energy,” says Tran Ngoc Nguyen, president and CEO, BSR. “We believe it will improve our staff’s capabilities so they can keep our operation running at peak performance.” 

AL WAHA will use a tool within CPS called Process Reliability Advisor at its plant in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, to continuously analyze the operation of its UOP Oleflex olefins unit, to quickly detect and resolve problems to ensure the plant operates at peak capability. The tool uses Honeywell UOP process and fault models, fed by current plant data, to provide key performance information and process recommendations.

“Process Reliability Advisor provides detailed analysis of the unit operation and makes corrective recommendations to prevent production interruptions and improve plant performance,” explains UOP’s Alzein. “AL WAHA will be using it to maximize onstream reliability of its Oleflex unit, while also optimizing propane consumption.”

CPS is a one part of Honeywell’s broader Connected Plant initiative that helps manufacturers leverage the IIoT to improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of operations across a single plant or several plants across an enterprise. “CPS integrates Honeywell UOP’s process and service expertise into the Connected Plant cloud platform,” Alzein adds. “With this platform we can bring our collective experience across hundreds of thousands of units to bear on behalf of our customers.”

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  • Great article. I agree optimization as a service is the future. This is a nice technology application and use of UOP's capabilities is a good blend for refinery optimization on many levels. Rockwell also has some very cool optimization as a service offerings in the area of energy optimization and the future will continue to make real time optimization more and more an automated technology. Optimization as a service means the customer confirms they are still making gains or turns it off.

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