Two Ways New LNG Processing Plants Can Begin Optimizing Operations

Gas Processing Optimization Opportunities

The shale boom gave rise to a flurry of construction in the gas processing industry as companies raced to take advantage of high oil prices and new production technologies like hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling. For the past five to 10 years, everyone was searching for faster, cheaper ways to get a new plant online.

With new construction now subsiding, focus has shifted toward optimizing operations at these new plants. And we’re quickly discovering the impact of the tradeoffs that were made to support rapid plant construction. Tradeoffs like:

  • Not staffing plants immediately upon startup with experienced personnel with technical expertise to support the installed base
  • Not following the traditional stick-build design approach and instead hastily integrating multiple skids from multiple vendors
  • Not accounting for the production and output impact of feedstock composition and volume dynamics that were different on the day of startup than what was originally planned

Today, the gaps created by the factors above serve as hiding places for valuable optimization opportunities. Some of these opportunities are already manifesting themselves as process upsets, equipment failures and process bottlenecks. Others are not yet apparent, but if addressed, carry the potential to increase recoveries, provide energy savings, and expand throughput.

Not sure where to begin with your optimization efforts? Below are two areas where optimization can yield quick wins.

Work Smarter, Not Harder With Model Predictive Control

Model Predictive Control (MPC) technology, a technique for advanced process control, continuously assesses current and predicted operational data, compares that data to the desired results and computes and downloads real-time supervisory setpoint targets.

If your current production and output doesn’t match what your plant was originally designed to support, MPC technology can help you close the gaps. Effective use of MPC technology can lead to:

  • Increased process stability and reduced variation for all the distillation towers
  • Increased yield
  • Increased production capacity
  • Reduced energy consumption
  • Reduced emissions

Amine treatment, fractionation, and sulfur recovery are three steps in your production process where you can realize quick wins by implementing MPC technology. You can learn more about how model predictive control can benefit your business.

Tame Your Asset Maintenance Process

Using an asset management tool to maintain field instrumentation calibration data has long been an established practice in the industry.

However, many new plants are discovering a side-effect of enlisting multiple vendors to provide equipment during initial construction: gaps in documentation and implementation of asset management technology across assets. You can easily remedy this by implementing a centralized asset management tool that:

  • Automatically scans the network to discover connected devices and workstation computers
  • Maintains an inventory of all versions of hardware, firmware and software you need to run your plant
  • Allows for manual entry of additional data, as well as data from devices that are not available over the network
  • Keeps detailed record of users’ actions to streamline auditing and reporting
  • Helps you manage instrumentation calibration schedules and certificates
  • Offers mobile access to real-time information
  • Keeps your data secure

The right asset management technology can provide a quick boost in your operations because it allows you to effectively track the health of assets you already own – regardless of the original manufacturer.

Additionally, effective asset management technology surfaces information about assets that was previously only available through employees who possessed equipment expertise. This allows employees across your organization – regardless of their level of experience with gas processing equipment – to easily access the information they need to keep your assets running well. Learn more about asset management software.

MPC and asset management are just two strategies you can implement as you start the journey toward optimizing your operations. We are already working with companies like yours to bring together IT and OT and improve the way you do business. Learn more on the gas processing section of our website.

Eduardo Villela Gorga
Posted April 17, 2017 By Eduardo Villela Gorga, Product Manager, Rockwell Automation
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