October 04, 2016 by Tushar Singh / 0 Comment
Tushar Singh

Have you Maximized Benefits from Advanced Process Control?

Advanced Process Control (APC) has been used in the process industry for many decades in various forms, from DCS-based control schemes to computer-based Model Predictive Control (MPC). The technology has been applied very successfully and with significant benefits to a wide variety of process units such as Crude Distillation Units, Hydrocrackers, FCC, Cokers, Reformers and Hydrotreaters.


Benefits from APC projects can vary depending on the unit’s capacity, commercial constraints and how close the unit is to economic optimum operation without APC. Below are some typical benefits from APC projects on major units in a medium-sized refinery:

Some typical benefits from APC projects on major units in a medium-sized refinery

Maximizing APC Benefits through Secondary Units


While many organizations focus only on major process units, the best-in-class ones expand their APC footprint to secondary units such as fuel gas networks, steam networks, etc. The benefits of implementing APC applications on these secondary units are significant from both a margins increase and an operational excellence perspective. So why is APC not widespread on secondary units? There are many reasons, some of which include lack of understanding of the benefits and/or shortage of engineering resources as majority of the APC engineers workload consists of maintaining existing applications. Some of these challenges can be addressed by using APC software with Adaptive Process Control technology that empowers users, automates many tasks, adapts and calibrates models in the background. All of this can help reduce the APC maintenance workload and maintain peak APC performance for existing controllers with ease.


Advances in APC technology can enable
organizations to shift focus from just
maintaining existing APC applications to
deploying additional APC applications,
enabling more engineers and achieving
a best-in-class APC program.


Some examples of benefits that can be achieved from secondary units are:


Fuel Gas Network Control & Optimization: Fuel Gas Networks have been shown to achieve benefits of greater than $2 million on a small refinery with a capacity that’s less than 100,000 bpd. Fuel Gas Network control is a difficult control problem within refineries and petrochemical plants. However, with APC technology sites can benefit from a stabilized Fuel Gas Network and optimized energy management.


Steam Network Control: The typical benefits gained from stabilizing a refinery steam network are above $1.5 million per year, which is achieved by improved steam header pressures that result in reduced letdown and vent flows. Additionally, similar benefits can be achieved by optimizing the steam network, and significant opportunity may exist in, for example, optimizing boilers and gas turbine loads.


There are many more benefits from APC applications that most organizations are leaving on the table. These applications may include, environmental emissions, Sulphur complexes, Hydrogen networks and more.


Have you deployed APC on secondary units? Join the discussion and leave a comment to let us know!


  • Rachel Lowell
    November 16, 2016 by Rachel Lowell / 0 Comment

    Mind. Blown. My Sentiments Every Time I Work with Adaptive Process Control Technology

    It's no secret that the internet and its parallel technologies have created an entirely different, unexpected world than anyone could have ever predicted or imagined. It is not just something that is nice to have, but rather essential to daily living. In the last few years, technology has changed my life in more ways than I can count.