Asset-heavy organizations, particularly oil & gas, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, metals & mining and pulp & paper are constantly working to ensure their equipment is performing as-intended. Consequences of lower-than-normal performance are many; companies can miss production targets, can lose a whole batch, or produce off-spec products and not to mention the impact on the environment, resources, and health and safety of personnel. Companies are increasingly taking advantage of advanced digital technologies like Asset Performance Management (APM) solutions to drive major improvements in equipment and process health while keeping operational risk under control and minimizing the need for capital investments to improve reliability.
These industries are also carbon-and-energy-intensive leading to increased scrutiny from policy makers. As sustainability imperatives grow, manufacturers are equally focused on making their processes economically sound while minimizing environmental impacts. It’s a daunting task; one that forces organizations to find innovative ways to address these challenges. Digital technologies like APM are providing the much-needed head start to improving process reliability by increasing throughput and yields, reducing costs as well as improving productivity and safety, all without significant increase in capital investment.
The increased availability of data is allowing greater visibility into production processes and equipment. This visibility helps uncover complex interactions between operating parameters in processes and reliability. As a result, the data provides higher visibility into resource utilization (be it raw materials, energy & utilities, catalysts & chemicals and spares), which are the key to sustainable operations. This is perhaps the most transformative aspect of an APM implementation; companies are looking to harness its full value.
APM in Action
MOL Group has a strategic initiative to maximize equipment uptime and improve energy efficiency to meet decarbonization goals. MOL partnered with AspenTech to extract additional value from its equipment and increase overall plant availability to over 96%. By deploying the prescriptive maintenance solution, MOL was able to accurately predict equipment failure; in some cases, 78 days in advance. That information is powerful. It allowed maintenance and reliability teams to plan for an intervention ahead of time, effectively organizing personnel and spare parts and avoiding a costly, unplanned shutdown, which could have severe impact on safety.
Similarly, AspenTech’s prescriptive maintenance solution was successfully implemented over a period of three years on 48 of 57 wind turbines at Sardeolica’s 126MW wind farm. Sardeolica expects a 10% maintenance cost reduction per year – in part by scheduling maintenance during lower wind availability, an insight coupled with the ability to identify specific turbines most in need of maintenance using AspenTech’s solution. This resulted in higher turbine uptime generating increased power and longer turbine lifecycles.
A large petrochemical company in Latin America chose AspenTech’s product suite when considering process improvement solutions to support operational decisions and complement existing process innovation efforts. The company was experiencing light hydrocarbon component loss to flare. Previous analysis indicated that an additional reboiler could perhaps relieve the load on downstream C3 splitter column and avoid loses to flare. AspenTech’s multivariate analysis solution analyzed 18 months of data and 45 variables to identify two bad actors that were contributing to high flare losses, specifically tray temperature. By adjusting two process variables, the customer saw a reduction in fractionation and downstream C3 splitter column variability, reduction in losses to flare, and in turn, CAPEX avoidance.
Lighthouse companies, like the ones mentioned here, are utilizing digital technologies in making their operations resilient while empowering their frontline with tools and insights. They are using technology to boost productivity and efficiency to support market demand variability without spare capacity or redundant equipment. Consider, OCP Ecuador: they found a partner in AspenTech to lower spare parts inventory requirements while improving equipment uptime by 20%.
There’s no silver bullet when it comes to sustainable operations. Maintenance, operations and compliance in a company often function in silos with competing goals. Successful deployments of these solutions require tighter collaboration amongst various groups, including OEMs, on-site crews and technology providers. Collaboration with industry stakeholders, peers, and partners is also vital. Such collaboration will broaden insights from the industry, highlight best practices and unlock learning opportunities.