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LBC Tank Terminal Deploys Open and Scalable PlantPAx Solution

Agidens, a Rockwell Automation Recognised System Integrator, replaces obsolete control solution on one site and replaces software at another

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  • Agidens was tasked with migrating two control systems to PlantPAx and to the international standards required by LBC



  • Open and scalable allowing easier future expansion
  • Industry and legislative compliant
  • High availability and enhanced maintainability
  • Integrated safety
  • Open standards and information security


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.


Agidens’ solution involved the migration of the existing control system to PlantPAx and the use of the PlantPAx Process Objects Library. The solution was designed with a focus on high availability; integrated safety; open standards; and information security and maintainability – with the main focus here being on integrity, availability and confidentiality.

The process control system – designed to be deployed over two phases – included PlantPAx process and safety controllers with operator workstation (OWS) and engineering workstations (EWS) in a centralised control room, coupled to a new unified network infrastructure based on EtherNet/IP™ with Stratix managed switches. The OWS and a process automation system server (PASS) are both running in a virtual environment. Visualization was in accordance with ISA 101 while an integrated safety solution was deployed in accordance with SIL - IEC 61508/IEC61511.

Existing remote I/O from Rockwell Automation was maintained, but instead of running a Profibus network it was updated for use with Ethernet. From a security standpoint, LBC also employed the Rockwell Automation Network Security Services team to design the Ethernet infrastructure and configure the switches to conform to the network design.

By using EtherNet/IP as the primary communication protocol, LBC has given itself the opportunity to more easily move into The Connected Enterprise, an approach based on future smart manufacturing initiatives, such as Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0 (United States), Industrie 4.0 (Germany), Manufacturing Intelligence 2025 (China), Manufacturing Innovation 3.0 (Korea) and others. These initiatives leverage the use of connected assets, supply chains and customers, allowing them to establish processes that are both data and information rich, supported, secure and future ready for market demands.

Benefits of access to real-time, contextualised information include minimised downtime, improved technology and process optimisation, greater workforce efficiency and smarter expenditure. Because EtherNet/IP is based on standard, unmodified Ethernet, there is very little that needs to be done to establish the connections between equipment; it also follows international standards to prevent unwarranted access.


The first project, which involved the deployment of PlantPAx libraries is benefitting from significant new added value as the process control system is now open and scalable.

The migration project is enjoying the same open and scalable benefits offered by an Ethernet-based architecture running PlantPAx. Agidens’ primary focus was on safety, reliability and flexibility, designing and constructing a solution that was fully compliant with legislation and the needs of LBC. As it turns out, the fall-back scenario, although comprehensive, was not required.

Since the migration of the older legacy system, the new PlantPAx control system has been handed over to operations and maintenance personnel and the terminal is fully operational, providing the functionalities described by LBC.

According to Tom Janssen, Group ICT Infrastructure Manager for LBC Tank Terminals: “Our objective is to know, in real time, the status of our terminals with respect to production throughput, safety compliance and asset status from the complete terminal down to individual assets. With our customers demanding more flexibility at lower cost it’s key for us to optimise our terminals and have a “live” view 24/7/365. Maintaining a leadership position on the market requires us to ensure we are cyber secure while having seamless information flows on our terminal network.”

He concludes: “Having connected terminals allows us to respond quicker to changing market conditions without compromising our way of running our terminals. As IT Infrastructure Manager it’s key to provide services to the terminals to ensure common methodology and procedures without reducing production flexibility and throughput.”


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