Efficient Plant January 2020 - 14

feature | sustainability
nology have, combined, enabled companies to
predict equipment or asset breakdown weeks,
if not months, in advance. The technology can
detect anomalies in equipment behavior, and,
upon detection, use historical and contextual
data to determine the patterns that lead to
failure.
Artificial intelligence provides organizations
with visibility into the health of their operations by predicting malfunctions in advance
and prescribing solutions to address looming
issues. This predictive lens is not something
the human eye can see alone, so relying on
artificial intelligence to achieve this level of
visibility is essential.
Unexpected cycles of production shutdown
and startup also require more energy output
than consistent, regular operations. Such
incidents can also lead to safety hazards and
unintended emissions from plant operations.
Another way technology helps improve
energy savings, as well as reporting, is through
simulation and process modeling. This type
of technology provides organizations with the
ability to take a closer look at the greenhouse
gases generated by processes.
Historically, industrial organizations
measured sustainability by the dollars saved in
reduced energy consumption. However, that
approach is changing as new digital technologies allow companies to dig deeper and expand
emission-reporting metrics, all while continually improving processes to decrease additional
emissions.
Simulation technology also provides
organizations with the ability to model digital
representations of actual processes early in
process development. This approach uncovers
alternate process routes and steps within those
processes to best determine which routes lead
to fewer CO2 emissions and better optimize
overall energy usage.
Simulating different process models
ultimately presents opportunities to closely
examine the pathways that can curb emissions
and reduce energy output. This results in better

14

| EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

insight into the environmental impact of plant
operations.
Through simulation technology, companies
not only do better reporting on emissions,
such as NOx and SOx, but also get continuously better at optimizing energy usage and
improving resource use. For example, Kuwait
National Petroleum company (KNPC) examined a simulation of its processes, and made
changes that reduced its carbon footprint
and cut energy usage, resulting in an annual
savings of $15 million.
Korean chemicals producer YNCC used
energy and process-optimization models to
cut energy consumption by 5% to 10% across
it various production units and move toward
its corporate target of 10% reduction in GHG
emissions.

EFFECTIVELY MANAGE WASTE
When we think about sustainability and
the environment, energy output is not the
only area of concern. Material waste also
has negative consequences, especially when
viewed in the context of raw materials, wasted
energy, and disposal issues. Interestingly, one
technology that can help reduce material waste
is supply-chain scheduling technology.
This technology makes possible data-backed
decisions that streamline the order in which
certain processes happen and helps organizations in two areas. First, it reduces the amount
of transitional material waste produced
between preferred product batches.
Second, it helps cut the amount of energy output by more effectively transitioning
between different processes. This is best
described in polymer processes where scheduling technologies can help order individual
production processes for each polymer batch
according to which processes require similar
conditions, e.g., temperature, to help curb
dramatic changes between transitions, which
tend to require more energy.
Outside of precise production planning,
intelligent technology also makes it possible to

analyze controlled and uncontrolled process
variables in real time. Analysis of production
process data can identify errors as they happen
and provide guidance for teams on how to best
mitigate or correct the process to recover the
product. Multivariate analysis helps identify
issues, such as drifting, temperatures, or feedstock quality, early on in processes, allowing
corrections that improve product quality and
reduce off-spec product waste.
Managing waste effectively requires a holistic view of the entire plant and its end-to-end
operations. There are several scenarios within
the plant environment, no matter how closely
monitored by plant operators, that can lead to
production waste.
However, the imperceptible events that
sometimes lead to material waste, such as
excessive energy usage, cannot rely on the
human eye to catch. The events are often deep
within the production layers, and a reliance on
intelligent technology can help organizations
uncover them.
Advanced technologies provide operators
with the ability to observe sustainability metrics to cover a range of performance factors.
In the coming years, we will see incremental
improvements in digital technologies, where
elements such as efficiency and data visualization will become even more effective and offer
more value to organizations. The digital world
is in a constant state of growth, and technologies that are making strides in sustainability
efforts today will continue to offer more innovative solutions in the future. EP
Paige Marie Morse is Industry Director, Chemicals at Aspen Technology, Bedford, MA (aspentech.com), where she enables digital-transformation progress at chemical companies worldwide.
Morse has significant experience with leading
operating companies such as Shell, Dow, Sunoco,
and Clariant, in R&D, marketing, and strategy
roles. Morse has a BA in chemistry from Kenyon
College, Gambier, OH, and a PhD in chemistry
from the Univ. of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

JANUARY 2020


http://www.aspentech.com http://www.aspentech.com http://www.EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

Efficient Plant January 2020

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