LBC Tank Terminals is one of the world’s largest operators of bulk liquid storage facilities for chemical and oil products, owning and operating a global network of terminals with a combined storage capacity of close to three million cubic metres at key locations in Europe, the USA and China.
The company is expanding its capacity and network, through new facilities at existing locations and through acquisitions, joint ventures and greenfield developments. It is also enhancing its existing installations, installing state-of-that art control systems to help achieve optimum efficiency and product handling.
A recent example of this upgrade work occurred at its Antwerp facilities. Agidens (formerly Egemin N.V.), a Rockwell Automation Recognised System Integrator, was tasked with not only migrating and replacing an obsolete control architecture at one tank farm with a new, fully integrated PlantPAx® control system, but also introducing PlantPAx libraries into an existing installation, which although running on Rockwell Automation® hardware, was operating using different software.
The LBC Antwerp facilities – located on the right Scheldt riverside in the fourth harbour dock in Antwerp, in the heart of the world’s second largest chemical cluster – handle chemicals, petroleum products, mineral oils, base oils and lubricants and offers customers ship-to-ship transfers, flexi-bag loading, forwarding and customs services as well as a 13,400m2 warehouse facility, including hazardous materials. The terminal has a capacity of 270,000 m3 divided over 188 tanks and is also equipped for special handling such as heating, nitrogen blanketing, drumming and purging.
Engineers faced multiple challenges with regards to the migration project. Foremost was the need to cause as little disruption as possible to the everyday running of the terminal, keeping downtime to an absolute minimum.
From a technical standpoint, LBC had a number of demands, all of which pertained to the operational parameters of the new PlantPAx control system. These demands included open standards in both hardware and software, high availability, the deployment of a high integrity, integrated safety solution, high maintainability, secure information management in the process control environment, easy-to-use operator consoles in classified areas and, just as importantly, the ability to cater for future expansion in terms of extensions and functionality.
LBC was adamant that it needed to regain ownership of its production networks – spread across several terminals around the world – and that it wanted to bring these infrastructures to a performance and security level that not only matched its business objectives, but also those pertaining to local and international standards. Due to work already starting on the revamp of the control system at the Antwerp terminal, the first service offered was development of a Production Network Design to be applied at the new Industrial Automation Control System (IACS) deployed at the Antwerp terminal.
The LBC terminal is a 24/7 operation, so the migration to the new Rockwell Automation system had to be completed over the course of just one weekend. Agidens therefore set up a clear migration strategy with fall-back scenarios – part of which involved installing the new PlantPAx controllers in parallel with the existing solution – to avoid any unnecessary downtime.