PACE Zenith Awards
Oil & Gas category (sponsored by AMS Instrumentation & Calibration)
Project: Altona Olefins Advanced Process Control and Plantwide Feed Maximiser
(Pictured alongside is Richard Wawrzon of Qenos.)
Qenos was tasked with providing a plantwide Advanced Process Control (APC) scheme to enable the Altona Olefins (ethylene) site operations department to take advantage of high feed availability scenarios.
Maximising utilisation of available feed was critical to the ongoing profitability of the site. The highly integrated Olefins site is complex to run and was difficult to maintain in terms of quality and stability when rates were pushed to equipment limits. Feed and offtake variations to and from the site caused operators to favour conservative operation, frequently anticipating a change that never comes.
The APC replaces around 90 traditional advanced control (TAC) schemes and simplifies the overall running of the site. The efforts undertaken throughout and prior to 2010/2011 with underlying APC implemented during that time, undoubtedly contributed to an above plan production year and increased ethylene yields in 2010 with production benefits of 2 to 5 percent being easily achieved.
The judges said: "This project is a good example of overcoming the difficulties of using Advanced and Multivariable Controls to improve plant operations. A small team was able to deliver a world class solution which generates a return on investment in a difficult local manufacturing environment."
Richard Wawrzon (L) of Qenos accepts the award from AMS Instrumentation & Calibration's Thomas Kuiper, sponsor of the Oil & Gas category.
The APC project and plantwide feed maximiser has resulted in a paradigm shift in the way a 50 year old plant is being run and couldn't have been achieved without the contributions by local staff engineers said Richard Wawrzon, Process Control Team Leader.
"They had to have a good mix of in depth process knowledge as well as a high level of process control skills because a whole range of process control solutions needed to be used to deliver the final product," he explained. "So people had to be experienced process engineers and experience process control engineers also with good knowledge of analyser systems and instrument systems."
This structure enabled the project team to manage the risk of delivering a world class solution which generates a return on investment in a difficult local manufacturing environment. Although there were difficulties encountered, an improvement to safety has been one of the biggest benefits of the new system according to Wawrzon.
"There were significant technical challenges as well as personnel and work practice challenges because the way operators interact with the process is quite different. There had to be a lot of buy in from operations. The model base controls or multivariable controls need to be justified economically but there are a lot of safety benefits as some of the operator's attention can now be redirected to the safety issues and machinery observation."
Australian ethylene manufacturing is small scale by world standards, and generally needs to work smart to justify the cost of assembling a team of specialists and consultants for implementation. Wawrzon believes ethylene production is important for the future of Australia's natural resources.
"Polyethylene is a critical ingredient to make products for the water management industry. Qenos supplies a lot of the raw material to make irrigation piping and water storage devices. Maintaining a viable ethylene and polyethylene manufacturing industry in Australia adds value to our natural resources."
"This award is a nice acknowledgement by peers of some of the good work that we've done. We're not a vendor or an external consultant but just the staff of a manufacturing company – and that was particularly gratifying for us."
PACE Zenith Awards 2012: Oil & Gas category is proudly sponsored by AMS Instrumentation & Calibration
AMS Instrumentation & Calibration
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