You are on page 1of 26

How to Enhance

Production and Safety

for Process Industries
1. Industry Challenges 3
1.1 Constrained Worker Resources 5
1.2 Operational Safety 7
1.3 Operational Consistency 10
2. An Introduction to MPA 12
3. MPA to the Rescue 15
4. Identifying MPA Opportunities 22
5. Implementing MPA 24
6. Summary & Next Steps 25

Chapter 1

Industry Challenges
Process industries face numerous challenges keeping health, safety, and
environment (HSE) at the forefront, an aging workforce, improving equipment
availability, maintaining quality, and increases in operator workloads. Distracted
operators make mistakes, especially during transitions, and operational error is the
single biggest reason for unscheduled shutdowns. In this chapter we will take a
closer look at some of these challenges and how procedures play an important
role. First lets clarify what a procedure actually is.

It seems that procedures may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about process
automation. Still, they play an important role at any industrial plant or factory, and though we like to refer to
the process industries as being largely continuous, most continuous processes actually have multiple
operating states. Process manufacturing is constantly in flux, and because of this, procedures exist. In
fact, the entire world of process operations is governed by procedures.

What is a Procedure?
Procedures are best described as pre-set
tasks that are consistently completed in a
specific order so as to achieve the desired
result. The automation of these
procedures bridges the gap between the
process control systems and plant
operators by augmenting operator actions
with electronic Standard Operating
Procedures (SOPs) that are integrated
with a Distributed Control System (DCS).

Whether you are initiating a startup,

shutdown, grade change, or are in the
middle of a maintenance turnaround, your
plant is governed by procedures and
transitional states that can either run
smoothly and provide you with superior
plant performance, a safe and orderly
start-up/shutdown, or, they can cost you in
terms of unplanned shutdowns, incidents,
lost production, and lost opportunities.

Fig. Typical depiction of continuous process with

procedures for each operating state or phase. Modular Procedural Automation eBook 3

Manual, prompted and automated procedures, and the problem
of Spaghetti Code

Today, operational procedures can be lumped into three primary categories: manual procedures,
prompted procedures and automated procedures. These operational procedures are typically
implemented as manual procedures in written form, either electronically or on paper. More often than
not, there is no way to verify that the procedures actually executed were, in fact, consistent with the
prescribed standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the process. We trust the operators to be
consistent. But is that always the case?

Many industries have been using prompted or automated procedures for some time, especially
the batch industries, such as life sciences, and food and beverage production. In the continuous
process industries, however, prompted and automated procedures are not the established way of
operating. Operations such as starting up and shutting down a refinery unit for instance, are often
considered to be a craft or an art form that relies heavily on experience and knowledge of the facilitys
operational and maintenance staff and its historical method of operation.
This is not to say that automated procedures are unknown in the continuous process industries.
Many companies have implemented sequence logic that allows procedures to be automated. However,
these have been done largely in an ad hoc framework using custom programming methodologies that
can become cumbersome when the time comes to upgrade the automation infrastructure. This ad hoc
approach also carries a high cost of ownership, since the custom logic has to be maintained by the end
user. Changes made to the code over time can create a tangled mass of 'spaghetti code' that can be
impossible to translate and maintain.
To make it even more complex, many end user companies in the process industries today are
the result of mergers and acquisitions. Along with that comes the multiple system platforms and
inconsistent code implementations that have accumulated over the years. Clearly, this is not a
sustainable way to operate and is likely to affect your operations in at least three ways, related to:

1) Constrained Workers Issues 2) Operational Safety 3) Operational Consistency

4 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

Skilled workers are retiring. Before
addressing a solution to the problem of
1.1 Constrained Worker Resources
spaghetti code, we will address three
major challenges many industrial
Are you concerned about senior operators retiring? Believe it
companies are facing, starting with an
or not, a plant regularly depends on the skill of a single human
aging workforce. According to an Ernst
& Young study, one of the common being for the execution of manual procedures. Or, if youre lucky,
challenges all verticals within the oil your site might have a small group of operators. In such cases,
and gas sector currently face is, quality and success depends on those key individuals doing a good
planning for the sustained availability of
job, which may not be a problem as long as the key men or women
a competent workforce over the next
five years. A serious challenge,
are around and know how to perform the procedure. However,
especially since we know that many given the demographic problems with aging workers and hard to
plants and factories are relying on find replacements, this type of dependence is becoming ever more
experienced operators for dealing with perilous.
the procedures. Could your journey to
Finding experienced personnel is a big challenge for the
operational excellence be threatened
by an aging workforce that is retiring?
process industries. The retiring wave of "baby boomers" in North
America and the shortfall of qualified engineers in Asia and other
parts of the world are creating a skilled labor shortage which is
driving growth in demand for services and more sophisticated forms
of automation. Modular Procedural Automation eBook 5

In a 2009 interview, an executive at a major refining
company stated they had lost 2,500 years of experience
recently when 100 operators retired at one site, each with an
average of 25 years of experience. As further evidence, a
team at a major chemical company analyzed their plant
demographics and found one of their largest plants would lose
75 percent of its operating staff to retirement by the end of
2009. Another major refiner has to fly its experienced people
to various sites all over the USA to augment the existing
workforce during start-ups and another has to contract back
retired workers to do unit startups because they do not have
The skilled labor shortage was the
enough people left on site that know how to do these
main topic throughout the speeches
procedures. This vision of the future from 2009 is todays during the IHS World Petroleum
reality. Conference. Steve Pryor, ExxonMobil
Many firms continue to operate with lean technical Chemical CEO and keynote speaker,
staffs, yet the level of technological complexity is increasing. said that a large portion of the rising
The timely flow of information, data, and knowledge is more cost of projects in the United States is
important than ever in the process industries. This downward due to the skilled labor shortage.
trend in staffing and the increased demand for accurate, real
According to the majority of the
time information will translate into additional systems and
speakers at the Platts Rockies Oil and
higher, more sophisticated levels of automation being applied, Gas Conference in Denver, labor
including Modular Procedural Automation. The smaller, less shortage is the biggest challenge that
experienced workforce that exists must be empowered with faces them right now as well. David
new technologies and workflows that can transfer knowledge Pursell, Managing Director and Head
on demand. of Securities of Tudor, Pickering, Holt
& Co., spoke of the lack of skilled

Changing Workforce Demographics from 2000 to 2010 welders, in particular. He discussed

how that resource shortage was the
60% real issue with the United States
52% onshore supply growth.
40% According to an Ernst & Young study,
30% one of the common challenges all
21% verticals within the oil and gas sector
currently face is, planning for the
sustained availability of a competent
0% workforce over the next five years.
-20% -10%

Number of People 35 to 44 Number of People 45 to 54

Number of People 55 to 64 Source: US Bureau of
Labor Statistics

6 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

Operational Safety. Besides challenges
related to workforce issues, another
1.2 Operational Safety
primary challenge for industrial industries
There is increased emphasis on health, safety, and
is (operational) safety. Environment and
environment in today's process plants. Accidents continue to occur
safety issues are major topics on a global
scale. In addition, there are increased in many manufacturing facilities even after the installation of safety
risks of accidents, and the need to systems and other precautions that were initially considered
ensure safety and environmental adequate.
stewardship to actively prevent industrial
Operational safety still depends primarily on operators. Many
accidents from occurring is significant. If
operators for instance, when confronted with an abnormal situation,
accidents do occur, the expectation is to
prevent their impact from spreading are faced with paralyzing information and alarm floods. It can be
externally. Unfortunately, there are difficult to sort through all the noise to get to the right data and
several recent examples to show that make a good decision in a crisis.
safety remains a constant challenge and
Several major incidents in the past few years were caused in
must become the highest priority for any
part by plant personnel not following proper operating procedures
company or industry.
while under pressure. Operators and maintenance personnel are
human. It is human nature to interpret the same written procedure
slightly differently and perform them a little differently too, especially
under pressure This variance can lead to degraded, inconsistent
performance, abnormal situations, and even worse, a catastrophe.
For each of these incidents that occur due to poor procedural
operations, there are probably ten near misses. Modular Procedural Automation eBook 7

Infrequent operations, transitions and abnormal situations

Plants are especially vulnerable during abnormal operation states. Thus, many safety incidents
occur during infrequent, transitional, or abnormal situations. A potentially dangerous (and abnormal)
situation might occur when an infrequent operation has to take place, but key individuals are not
available, leaving inexperienced operators to follow inadequate or incorrect instructions. Something can
get out of control and quickly lead to undesirable outcomes such as equipment damage, environmental
release, injuries and/or fatalities. (Source: ISA-106 and Concepts of Procedural Automation).
There are three broad operational procedures involving transitions: start-up, shut-down and unit
state change. The unit state change includes transitions like grade changes, production rate changes,
process equipment switches, feed changes, etc.
Safety statistics show the majority of incidents not related to outright mechanical failures happen
during abnormal situations, primarily unit startups and shutdowns. Prime examples are the Kern Oil
Refinery that occurred during a crude unit startup and the BP Texas City disaster that took place
during a raffinate splitter tower startup. Unfortunately, such incidents did not stop after 2005 and many
more examples continue to occur much too frequently even today.

Modular Procedural Automation eliminates the inconsistency

introduced by new hands.

Marius Rautenbach, Safripol

A study by J & H Marsh &

McLennan shows that the
examination of major incidents
by the average loss per incident
indicates that operational error
represents the largest average
dollar loss.

Source: J & H March &

McLennan, Inc.

8 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

Operators Under Stress

Operators today can be under huge Operational error is the single biggest
amounts of stress that will have an impact on their reason for unscheduled shutdowns. Procedure
responses to abnormal situations. Under normal based recovery from abnormal situations is faster
operating conditions, the operator can apply their and more reliable than recovery based on random
training and basic knowledge successfully. At the operator knowledge even from expert operators.
first sign of a fault, the operator is capable of Effective operational consistency can be
acknowledging the event and responding seen day-in and day-out within high-risk industries
accordingly. As the situation begins to deteriorate, like nuclear power or aviation, where the
the ability of the operator to effectively respond consequences of an accident can be so
deteriorates rapidly. catastrophic that the importance of consistent
A widespread issue in manufacturing plants reliability raises itself to a very high level. These
is alarm flooding. As formerly independent high-reliability organizations nearly always achieve
systems are integrated for more effective operation error-free operations due to their strong
by fewer operators, each operator now has an operational consistency.
ever increasing scope of responsibility a wider
area to monitor and consequently more alarms to
deal with. Without rigorous alarm rationalization
efforts, alarm flooding becomes a serious problem
and increases the risk of safety and environmental

Old knowledge is not lost to due natural migration of older

Quintin Kruger, Safripol

Fig. Despite technology

advancements, incidents during
startups and shutdowns
continue to be a significant cost
factor for plants. Source: Energy
Practice of Marsh Ltd. 2012. Modular Procedural Automation eBook 9

Do all of your shifts perform at high
levels? What is your strategy for 1.3 Operational Consistency
handling abnormal conditions?
How do you manage Transitions, Start
Even though the last three decades has brought advancing
Ups, and Shut Downs? Research has
shown that the largest reason for automation solutions to continuous process industries - including
unscheduled downtime is operational or remote actuators on valves, PID controllers, distributed control
human error, which accounts for systems (DCS) and centralized control rooms - the fact remains that
approximately 42 percent of the
most continuous process plant operators still perform most
unscheduled shutdowns in the process
industries. Of that 42 percent, 16 percent is procedures manually.
directly related to procedural error. One of Many operation efficiencies can be further improved by
the major concerns in plant operations is automating these non-routine operations as much as possible. In
how to reduce its operation costs so that
petrochemical and chemical industries like refining, the overarching
the profit is optimized. The industrial plant
operations are fully automated with objective is to improve utilization, which cannot be achieved without
process control systems; however, startup, reducing unplanned downtime.
shutdown, load/grade changes, and other When researching the role of operators in the Refinery of the
non-routine works are largely done by
Future, several major operating companies concluded that this can
manual operations. So, how do you
maintain consistent operation and achieve be addressed first by empowering a higher level of situational
maximum operational throughput? awareness - one that enables flawless intervention by exception and
relieves operators of manual tasks, freeing time for more value
added activities.

10 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

Infrequent Operations
Infrequent procedural operations can be automated, but
they often aren't. There are several explanations for this, some
technical, while others relate to human nature.
Some companies simply don't consider it worth the effort
because the operations happen so infrequently. Is it necessary
to automate something that happens once a year and can be
handled by a qualified operator? While the answer might seem
simple, it is becoming more complicated every day. Will key
operators be available next time? And, programming tools for
old control systems do not make the process any easier. Also, if
writing the code to automate a procedure is a complex and Startup & Shutdown
Safe and efficient startup and shutdown of a
expensive undertaking requiring specialized skills, it probably
distillation unit is critical to its overall operation.
won't happen. Startup frequency can vary, from once every day
Then again, if a given procedure is not well documented, to once every five years. If startups occur often,
they can occur on different shifts, and the time
how will the engineer responsible for writing the code be able to and skill of the operator on duty can determine
program it? Without a clear sequence of steps, there is no the efficiency of the startup. If startups occur at
longer intervals, companies run the risk of not
possibility of creating the right code. Additionally, if the engineer having experienced personnel available to run
designing the procedure is not available to work with the and oversee the startup. There have been cases
where companies have had to bring operators out
programmer, there is little chance for anything to be of retirement to restart a unit after a shutdown.
implemented correctly. If operators are not fully convinced of the
One key item in the shutdown procedures is
accuracy and reliability of an automated procedure, they tend to recognizing that a shutdown might not be
put everything in manual and do it themselves. scheduled. System problems or severe weather
such as approaching hurricanes can require a
It's not hard to find examples of operators taking matters shutdown of distillation operations with very short
into their own hands, and its one of the reasons why control notice. As with startups, on-shift operating
personnel might not have the most experience in
strategy improvement programs will often fail. shutting down a system.

Operational Consistency
Years ago (industrial) automation involved hand valves and a few field mounted pneumatic
loops, but this grew to a few hundred single loop controls and indicators on large boards, then to
several hundred loops and indicators on single or small clusters of single-monitor Operator Consoles
to todays large centralized control rooms. These control rooms have groups of Workstations, each
with multiple monitors. This evolution also affected the role of an operator. In the past, a single
operator was responsible for managing an environment of perhaps less than 50 items, now a single
operator may have hundreds of loops and thousands of indicators to cope with. The proficiency and
effectiveness of operators remains a serious concern for Operations Management, as technology has
changed the visualization of the process facility and driven up the scope of responsibility of an operator
to include 100s to 1000s of loops. As mentioned earlier, the large number of devices requires a
considerable attention span under normal conditions, but become a greater concern under the stress of
a disturbance or abnormal situation. To maintain situational awareness and consistent operation within
such an environment, is a challenge, especially when abnormal situations occur.

11 Modular Procedural Automation eBook 11

Chapter 2

MPA Introduction
To deal with some of the challenges described in the pervious chapter, consider
Modular Procedural Automation (MPA). It is a solution that captures operators
knowledge and best practices and ensures procedures are consistently employed
throughout the manufacturing process. Using the capabilities of MPA, plant
operations, engineering, HSE and management can be more confident that the
correct procedures are being followed. MPA is a clear path to operational
excellence in the process industries.

Modular Procedural Automation (MPA) is not new, nor is it some theoretical concept. It has
existed for many years, mostly in batch and semi-batch processes, but also in continuous processes by
some early adopters. It is all about automating specific tasks in a process that typically require a lot of
manual intervention from operators, to avoid the problems that can originate in manual intervention.
There are real benefits in its
application to batch and continuous
processes, and even a casual
examination shows multiple
opportunities. Procedural automation is
beneficial not only in chemical and
petroleum processing, but in any
process with sequential operations.
Procedure automation has therefore
been applied to a wide range of
processes from offshore platform
operation to cracking furnaces to
processing nuclear materials.
Procedures exist in all processes. Sometimes they are written down on paper, sometimes kept in
digital form in a document control system, and sometimes they just are in somebodys head. Well-
written procedures enable safe, consistent operations. In fact, for some industries, written procedures
are a legal requirement. However, having procedures and actually following them are often different
things. To maximize the benefit of any procedure, it must be faithfully followed day in and day out.
Thus, the basis for the main benefit of procedure automation: it enforces adherence to the procedure.

12 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

ISA 106 Standard - ISA 106 Standards
Committee creates a standard for
procedure automation for continuous
Modular Procedural Automation
process operations. Its purpose is to
develop standards, recommended
MPA is a consultative methodology to document and
practices, and technical reports on the automate procedural operations in continuous processes. MPA is
design and implementation of a proven methodology that captures, documents, and implements
procedures for automating continuous
procedural knowledge gathered from the operational staff. It is
process operations See more at:
modular and ensures standardized implementation to increase
flexibility, reduce operation costs, and promote repeatability and
Procedures are best described as pre-set tasks that are
consistently completed in a specific order so as to achieve the
desired result. MPA bridges the gap between the process control
systems and plant operators by augmenting operator actions with
electronic standard operating procedures that are integrated with a
DCS. Modular Procedural Automation eBook 13

Today there are more
powerful Basic Process Control
Systems. As more pieces of process
equipment are merged into larger
and more complex control
implementation modules (and
equipment implementation modules)
additional layers of abstraction are
If no integration is applied to
a pump with its block valves, each
device needs to be addressed as a
separate entity, and the pump start
procedure needs to address which
valves need to open first and when
to start the pump. If the pump and
its valves are automated as an
equipment implementation module
and all the automation is embedded
in it, the procedure does not need to
know the type of pump, the valve
setup for a specific pump or even
the procedure to open valves and
start the pump.
The procedure only needs to
request that the pump be started
and all the necessary basic control
is executed in the equipment
implementation module. As a result
the valves will open in the correct
order and the procedure will be
much simpler. Manual procedures
may be made smaller and simpler
by automating parts of the
procedure through creating
equipment implementation modules
and control implementation

(source: ISA-TR106.00.01 Procedure Automation for

Continuous Process Operations - Models and
Terminology - link)

MPA is an efficient and sustainable solution and has fulfilled

our expectations. It enables the operator to spend more time on
intelligent tasks, in addition to observing the constant or step-
by-step changes to these parameters. We have seen return on
investment in less than a year.

Dr. Mosler, Production Manager, Evonik Industries


14 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

Chapter 3

Procedural Automation to the

Modular Procedural Automation offers several advantages to plant operations and
contributes to achieving operational excellence. Operational excellence isnt
necessarily an endpoint for an organization; rather, it is an ongoing journey. It
focuses on minimizing and managing downside risks while maximizing an
operations performance and shareholder value. Along the journey, multiple
factors play a role. In this chapter we will outline the main benefits of MPA.

Automating procedures enforces consistent operation of the process, resulting in improved

quality and higher throughput. Operators are able to operate with fewer errors and delays, creating
maximum utilization. Procedure automation also contributes to safe operations by reducing the
opportunity for operator error. Procedure automation is also a great tool for knowledge retention, and
having well-documented procedures and automating those procedures greatly improves personnel
The implementation of an MPA solution reduces the likelihood and frequency of human error in
plant and refining processes. By capturing existing best practices from experienced operators and
then automating and integrating those best practices into the control system infrastructure, mistakes
can be drastically reduced by providing operators guidance in real-time. Certain procedures can be fully
automated and require only operator supervision.
By enforcing best practices and guiding operator
actions, MPA increases safety margins, energy
efficiency, process yields and product quality.
Modular applications also enable standardization of
procedures across the plant and business
enterprise, which in turn reduces the time required
to maintain procedures, increasing staff efficiency
and effectiveness. Modular Procedural Automation eBook 15

Top 6 Benefits of Modular Procedural Automation

1. Improved safety performance

Automating procedures and utilizing state 4. Operational effectiveness & improved
awareness for alarm management reduces the situational awareness
workload on the operational staff during abnormal Automated procedures can be prepared for potential
conditions. This enhances situational awareness, disturbances, reducing the time to return operations
enables more effective responses to abnormal to desired steady state conditions. MPA also
conditions, and reduces the probability of human reduces the time an operator spends carrying out
error. repetitive tasks and enables them to focus on
process optimization and avoidance of abnormal
2. Operator knowledge retention conditions. And, as knowledge and best practices is
Automated procedures can be used to retain the captured into automated procedures, the resulting
knowledge of the process. This is especially documentation and code can be used as material for
important for procedures that may not be executed training new operators on the process and shorten
frequently or routinely. the time needed for them to become effective.

3. Increased production 5. Reduced operator errors

Operations may benefit by achieving faster, safer Automating procedures enables operations staff to
and more consistent startup and shutdown standardize their operating procedures. A
operations of processes by automating the standardized approach both reduces the likelihood
procedural steps. Automated procedures can also of human error contributing to abnormal conditions
aid in maintaining maximum production rates, and also lessens the time required to recover from
minimizing recovery time and avoiding shutdowns. abnormal conditions.
Furthermore, most plant processes require staff to
process transitions from one condition to another 6. Management of change
during normal operating conditions. Automating A structured, modular approach to procedural
procedures enables operations to accomplish automation minimizes production change control
transitions with reduced variability and in less time. costs.

Through a MPA solution, we were able to eliminate product

variation and maintain consistency in its operations by reducing
off spec products during transitions. The net result was an
increase in process efficiency and reduction in operating costs.

Engineering Manager, Safripol.

16 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

MPA is like having your best
operators all day, every day. Many
Capturing Knowledge
procedures are not well documented.
Most plants therefore depend on the Capturing operational knowledge is important. MPA provides
knowledge of those few skilled a methodology for the captured knowledge to be documented,
operators who know how procedures
distilled into best practices, and implemented in reusable and
are to be performed, sometimes in
accordance with documented
repeatable procedures. Without this ability, captured knowledge is
instructions (assuming they exist), and not well managed and simply becomes information on a shelf that is
sometimes following the "right way" in not utilized. Or worse, the knowledge is not captured and is lost
spite of what the instructions say. As a
when the operator leaves or retires.
result different operators may practice
them differently. Part of automating
such procedures is determining the
best practices and incorporating those
approaches, so they will be followed
consistently. Modular Procedural Automation eBook 17

Enhancing Safety with MPA
With MPA, Operators Are Never
Alone. Regardless of the reasons, the
control rooms of the western world do Many operators, when confronted with an abnormal situation, are
not seem to be as well-manned as faced with paralyzing information and alarm floods. It can be difficult to
those of 20 or 40 years ago. To
sort through all the noise to get to the right data and make a good
address this situation, MPA can be
decision in a crisis. Procedure based recovery from abnormal situations
used to transfer the knowledge and
experience of the best remaining is faster and more reliable than recovery based on random operator
operators, engineers and technicians to knowledge even from expert operators.
new operators. This makes new
Modular Procedural Automation could also stop abnormal events
operators more effective and efficient.
from happening in the first place. Several major incidents in the past
When MPA is correctly implemented,
no operator needs to start, run or stop few years were caused in part by plant personnel not following proper
an operating unit alone. operating procedures, while under pressure. It is human nature for
different people to interpret the same written procedure slightly
differently and perform them a little differently too. This variance can
lead to degraded, inconsistent performance or abnormal situations.

Modular Procedural Automation can also help in the development of the safety lifecycle. It is a method or
procedure that provides the means to specify, design, implement, and maintain safety systems in order to achieve
overall safety in a documented and verified manner. Modular Procedural Automation can help implement the
procedures required to developed safety lifecycle management in the same way it can help execute transition
changes and other functions in the plant.

18 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

Accidents that could have been mitigated by MPA
With MPA, the following would
have been possible:

The BP accident occurred in 2005 in an The operator would have had on-
isomerization unit. When the lone operator screen information regarding all of
came on shift, he had just a single line of the steps that the previous shifts
input in the log book from the previous had taken
operator: "Starting up the Isom Unit. A safety warning could have been
A very large burden seemed to fall provided on-screen regarding the
BP Texas City upon a single operator overflowing of the raffinate splitter
(2005) Restructuring following the merger tower
resulted in a significant loss of people, Out-of-date procedures would have
expertise and experience been updated
The MPA software could have shut
the unit down in time to avoid the

An explosion and fire led to the fatal injury of Implement Mitigation

seven employees when a nearly forty-year-
implementation tracking MPA
old heat exchanger failed during a
used for correlating data with
maintenance operation.
different mitigation implementations.
During the unit startup, The U.S.
Document single Operator and
Chemical Safety Board (CSB) concluded
that Tesoro did not correct the history of Multiple Operator procedure in MPA
Tesoro Refinery fire hazardous conditions or limit the number to prompt operators on proper
(2010) of people involved in the hazardous non- procedures, and use of protective
routine startup of the heat exchangers. gear, verified coordination among
Because of the re-occurring leaks and the personnel, verified process readings
need to manually open a series of long- Automate Emergency Response
winded valves that required over one horn and emergency support
hundred turns by hand to fully open, a requests.
supervisor requested five additional
workers to help.

In 2007, four people were killed and 13 Prompts could have been provided
others were transported to the hospital when to the board operator regarding the
an explosion occurred at T2 Laboratories backup water supply;
Inc. during the production of a gasoline Corrective action steps for this type
additive called methyl cyclopentadienyl of condition could have been semi-
manganese tricarbonyl. automated with prompts; or fully
T2 Laboratories, The CSB report describes a lone board automated as automated flowrate
and valve changes; and
Chem. Explosion operator, who did not know what to do
when the water jacket's water supply The software could have set off
(2007) evacuation alarms.
failed. He called off-site engineers for
help, and they rushed to the plant, but The knowledge of the plant's most-
reached it too late. experienced people could have
been provided via MPA Modular Procedural Automation eBook 19

Transitions inherently increase the risk
Operational Consistency & MPA
of disruptions that can lead to incidents
and production downtime. Research Start-ups and shutdowns need specific skills and are one of the
indicates that nearly 80% of production biggest sources of risk in a production process. Effective grade changes
downtime is preventable. And half of
and transitions can provide a source of competitive advantage for
them is due to operator error. The
monetary costs of this failure in the manufacturers if they are done consistently, in other words: the same
petrochemical industry alone are way every time. Operational consistency helps maximize production
estimated at $20 billion per year. In rates, minimizing recovery time, and avoiding shutdowns. If shutdowns
addition to avoiding downtime,
do occur, operations can still benefit by achieving faster, safer and more
damage, injury and environmental
emissions, the lost opportunity cost consistent startup and shutdown operations of processes by automating
due to operators functioning at less the procedural steps.
than peak effectiveness looms large.

A major chemical company, at the 2011

ARC Forum, explained how automating
cleaning procedures decreased the
length of the shutdown. It led to a 16%
increase in profit.

20 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

MPA Application Examples

Automation of High-density
Polyethylene Grade Change

Olefin Plant Reactor Switch

Automation of Crude
Switch Operation Modular Procedural Automation eBook 21

Chapter 4

Identifying MPA Opportunities

As with any engineering project, time spent on defining the scope on the front end
will pay off later in the project. But based on the experience gained by executing
thousands MPA projects, there are some additional details that should be
considered before starting with MPA. In this chapter we will share some of these
lessons learned and help you with identifying the top MPA candidates at your
plant or manufacturing facility.

Which procedures should be automated? Before answering this

question, be aware that automating a procedure requires a review of the
current procedures and in some cases this step will mean that some of the
current procedures need to be updated. Often this alone is a big step
forward, and if well-documented and verified procedures exist for the
process, you have a solid foundation. Automating procedures also requires
an engineering design, including implementation and testing. Another
lesson learned is that youll need operator acceptance. It is extremely
important for all operational areas to be involved in this activity. The
operations staff must have buy-in to make the project a success. After all,
they run the plant. Unless they recognize a benefit from procedure
automation, MPA will be underutilized. It is highly recommended to have an
experienced operator assigned to the project.
Furthermore, base the decision for MPA upon what your business justification is where is your value?
Possible criteria could be: risk reduction or safety improvement; consistent operations; critical or low
frequency procedures like startups and shutdowns; complex procedures, opportunities for improved
profitability, as with transitions; and last but not least, highly repetitive and low value tasks performed by
the operator to free them to increase their situational awareness and to perform higher value work.

Identify business criteria goals, how you are going to

measure Value or Success

Prioritize potential projects based on the defined values

Automate/semi-automate business or safety critical state

changes. And choose your level of automation based on
your operational experience for the given situation.

22 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

What are your MPA candidates?

Looking at your site, where to start? Besides knowledge

capture, there are four real categories for you to consider. The
four categories are related to: safety; production critical areas;
high level and frequent manual operations; and troubleshooting
Automating PID loops- Choose a high-
or managing abnormal situations. Only start with the last one frequency operation of moderate complexity
for your first automation. After calculating
after looking considering the first three areas, because this is
your MPA potential for safety + production
likely the hardest one to implement and may require the help of and business critical areas in your plant, a
next step can be to look at your PID loops
a MPA consultant. because in a transition period or during a
grade change, operators often put loops in
Safety & Environment risk reduction areas manual control in order to push the loops a
little bit harder. If you find these kind of loops
Process state change that has high risk of explosive fluid in your plant, you can let MPA become the
supervisory control over top of these PID
emission loops and achieve the same or better results
as an operator does manually. MPA can
Production or business critical areas more consistently prevent manually controlled
PID loops from going out of control and even
For example: Start-up/shutdown of offshore wells get more consistent control results because
you are no longer depending on the
Frequent, highly manual transitions operator's experience level in loop control
and tuning. Start with prioritizing identified
Grade changes, feed changes, operator managed PID Loop PID loops based on profit/loss calculation,
and automate prioritized PID loops in cases
Troubleshooting/managing abnormal situations where operators have best practices. One
controller loop that is well tuned or in a well-
Highly valuable but most difficult to implement. Requires managed state of operation can save or
generate $50,000 to $100,000 (USD) per
deeper analysis among operations and engineering
year. High savings can be achieved by
standardizing loop control that provides
stability over a wide operating envelop and
across multiple shifts.
FIG. Typical MPA targeted procedure by industry

23 Modular Procedural Automation eBook 23

Chapter 5

Implementing MPA
In the previous chapter we explained what to look for identifying MPA
opportunities. Next step is implementing MPA. An important lesson that MPA
vendors have learned is that if MPA is not made as easy as possible for operators,
then a project isnt likely to be successful. As a result, operator friendly software is
important. In this chapter we will highlight a methodology for implementing MPA.

You might think implementing MPA is easy. After all, standard operating (SOP) procedures may
already exist at your plant. As it turns out, most SOPs are based on stable operations. The reality is, that
for abnormal situations operations often rely on the experience of your senior operators. Part of
implementation is capturing that knowledge. Vendors like Yokogawa provide expertise on knowledge
engineering required to capture knowledge and transfer it into automated procedures.
As already mentioned, MPA methodology begins with an examination of the procedures chosen for
automation. At Fractionation Research Institute (FRI), a Yokogawa customer in the United States, during
the first step of the MPA methodology, the procedure evaluation process, uncovered that many of the
procedures were not actually written down in logical order, or correct with regard to values. The common
practice was to use the procedure as more of a guideline than an actual procedure. This allowed for
variations in actual startup and shutdown efficiency. As a solution MPA captured the best practices
(know-how) of the senior operators for use by all the operators. The figure below represents the difference
between the two in a flow diagram.
Procedural flow diagrams for the startup and shutdown procedures were created in order to
capture the evaluation resultscompleteness, logical order, correctness, steps to be automated, and sub-
procedures to be modularized. The procedural flow diagrams were converted into automated procedures.
The FRI subject matter expert and the Yokogawa consultant reviewed the automated procedures to
validate logic and completeness.
Testing on the procedures was
performed in Offline Mode
(disconnected from the process
control system), in Trial Mode
(read only from the process
control system), and Normal
Mode (read from and write to the
process control system). The
testing allowed for final
adjustments of the procedures
before they were placed into

24 Modular Procedural Automation eBook

Chapter 6

Summary and Next Steps

MPA helps you standardize and automate your procedures. Its all about capturing
your best operators know-how and implementing that as a standard operating
procedure in your plant to guide all operators. Instead of having just a check-list
that youre training your operators on, you should look to automate that wherever
possible to have the most reliable and consistent outcome. With MPA implemented
its like having your most experienced operators on hand at all times.

1. MPA is about improving production performance and safety

2. Use MPA to help make your plant more productive through consistent, safer operations.

3. Look for MPA applications:

Safety & Environment issues.
Lost Production opportunities
PID Loops in Manual mode or with high operator changes

What can Yokogawa do for you?

Consulting Site Visit Comparative Effective Analysis
A next step in your orientation towards a MPA Yokogawa systems provides Comparative
solution is a Consulting Site Visit. You can request Effective Analysis (CEA) - a built-in system
this consult from Yokogawa. It will include: performance monitor. Among the items that CEA
reports is which loops are in MAN mode most often
o Identifying opportunities for improvement (major and which loops have the most operator changes
pain points) associated with them. These loops can be targeted
o Methodologies and templates for: for modular procedural automation. These same
Site visit pre-work measures can be analyzed on other systems but it
Plant walkthrough takes more effort because most other systems either
Interview checklists with: do not automatically collect this data or it is not
Management reported in an easy to analyze format.
Operations Yokogawa can work with customers to
Other functions configure their systems to collect key factors for
Initial review meeting/ on-site report analysis and we can assist in guiding the customer to
o Assist in ROI calculations focus on specific loops and in creating automation
o Prioritize and recommend best solutions modules for procedures that mimic operator action for
managing single loops and critical transitions. Modular Procedural Automation eBook 25 Modular Procedural Automation eBook 26