Process Control & Optimization
Process control and optimization (PCO) is the discipline of adjusting a process to maintain or optimize a specified set of parameters without violating process constraints. The PCO market is being driven by rising demand for energy-efficient production processes, safety and security concerns, and the development of IoT systems that can reliably predict process deviations. Fundamentally, there are three parameters that can be adjusted to affect optimal performance.
- Equipment optimization: The first step is to verify that the existing equipment is being used to its fullest advantage by examining operating data to identify equipment bottlenecks.
- Operating procedures: Operating procedures may vary widely from person-to-person or from shift-to-shift. Automation of the plant can help significantly. But automation will be of no help if the operators take control and run the plant in manual.
- Control optimization: In a typical processing plant, such as a chemical plant or oil refinery, there are hundreds or even thousands of control loops. Each control loop is responsible for controlling one part of the process, such as maintaining a temperature, level, or flow. If the control loop is not properly designed and tuned, the process runs below its optimum. The process will be more expensive to operate, and equipment will wear out prematurely. For each control loop to run optimally, identification of sensor, valve, and tuning problems is important. It has been well documented that over 35% of control loops typically have problems. The process of continuously monitoring and optimizing the entire plant is sometimes called performance supervision.