Plant Construction & Process Technology

Right Time, Right Message

Evonik to Optimize its Production in Singapure with a New Alarm Management

05.09.2017 -

Evonik Industries is one of the world’s leading specialty chemical companies. In one of its production plants in Singapore it produces oil additives and technologies for fuels and lubricants for the fast-growing Asia-Pacific market. As part of its digitalization strategy and to optimize its production output, the company relies on automation with an efficient process alarm management.

“Companies in the chemical industry are facing an increasing competitive pressure. Our aim is at any time to ensure safety, availability and connectivity of our production plants leading to operational efficiency. At Evonik we focus on new technologies as well as on new business. For us digitalization is one of the key levers to tackle all these challenges. With Siemens we have a reliable partner at our side to realize our digitalization strategy into our production plants globally,” says Peter Meinshausen, regional president, Evonik Asia Pacific South.

At its production site in Jurong Island, Singapore, the firm installed a distributed control system Simatic PCS7 together with a tailored alarm management system from Siemens. It helps to support control room operators by prioritizing the alarms and send them to the responsible personnel or departments. This has reduced the incidence of alarms received in the control room by more than half.

Creating Meaningful Information

Process automation and other control and monitoring systems allow production plants to collect more detailed data during production processes. The challenge is to collate data and create meaningful information that will help operators in making timely as well as informed decisions. This challenge is especially important for alarm systems in production plants: if the frequency of alarm notification exceeds a certain level, this increases the likelihood of operator making mistakes, and might also potentially impact the process performance and safety of the production plant. These risks can be mitigated by an alarm management system that filters and prioritizes alarms.

One company that recently implemented a solution for alarm management is the specialty chemicals manufacturer Evonik. To serve the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific market, it opened its oil additives plant in Singapore in 2008, and has significantly expanded the plant in 2015, making it the largest oil additives production site within the company’s global network. The process control system used at the Singapore site is based on Simatic PCS 7 and Simatic Batch. The entire plant is operated by a central control room with two operating stations – one for monomer production and another for polymer production. Products are produced by order in batches to allow frequent process adaptations.

Reducing Workload, Improving Performance

When the plant was expanded some time ago, Evonik also looked into improving its existing alarm management system, by discussing the requirements and strategies with Siemens. To ensure the solution meets the international standard, engineering and consulting experts from Siemens followed a structured approach comprising the development of a suitable alarm concept, data collection and system benchmarking, “Bad Actor” alarm resolution, alarm documentation and rationalization, real-time alarm management, and lastly, implementation in the DCS. Working closely with personnel from the plant, the Siemens team tailored the alarm management system by integrating the existing user requirements and best practices from the Evonik site in Darmstadt, Germany. Implementation of the new alarm management into the chosen system and corresponding application software was performed by the local Singapore Siemens team.

One crucial success factor of this project was the involvement of the plant operators in the concept and design phase, which allowed their years of operational experience to be applied in the design and creation of the solution. The Singapore Siemens team organized several workshops throughout the project to support the alarm evaluation and prioritization process, and to identify the causes of “Bad Actor” alarms.

One key feature of the alarm management system is the Advanced Alarm Suppression concept, which filters and aggregates alarms. Tailored alarm prioritization according to urgency and consequence ensures that operators are always presented with the most important alarms. As part of the new concept, the alarm cockpit in the plant was also redesigned. Alarms are now aggregated into several logging lists, with one for all incoming process alarms and another for PLC process control messages. This concept ensures that process-related alarms are directed straight to the operator, while other alerts are sent to the plant maintenance personnel. As a result, tasks can be dealt with in a timely manner as they are quickly assigned to the right person.

Positive Feedback from Operation

The new alarm management solution has exceeded Evonik’s expectations. In terms of the alarm optimization system, it was able to effectively address the issue of operator stress in its Singapore plant. Following smooth implementation without any system downtime, the number of process alarms displayed in the control room has been reduced by more than half. In addition to the alarm management solution, Siemens also supported its client in implementing several system improvements. The plant personnel have easily adapted to the new solution and are already experiencing the benefits in their daily work.

World-scale Amino Acid DL-methionine Plant

To better serve the strong demand and customers in Asia, in 2016 Evonik started the construction of its second world-scale methionine complex in Singapore. With additional annual capacity of 150,000 metric tons, the new production complex will increase the producer’s annual capacity of DL-methionine to a total of approximately 300,000 metric tons in Asia, and to approximately 730,000 metric tons worldwide. The plant is expected to start operations in 2019 and Siemens also was commissioned as one of the partners for the energy management solution for the new plant. “We always strive to exceed the expectations of our customers with innovative and competitive solutions,” commented Peter Meinshausen. “We have been partnering with Siemens to enhance our plants’ alarm and energy management, and I believe we can achieve greater operational efficiency for our production plants together.”


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