Engineering Analytics | Blog

Blog series: Using Simulation Models to Support Plant Operations

November 10, 2016 by Tami Okano / 0 Comment
Tami Okano

Do You Dream of Saving Your Plant Millions? Make it a Reality with Aspen Plus®.

Do you dream of saving millions?

With increasing pressure to improve the bottom line, more efficient and improved plant performance is crucial for any chemical or energy company to stay at the top. How do best-in-class companies accomplish this? Process and production engineering groups can use helpful tools to achieve operational excellence at their site, helping to make a difference from the bottom up.


Getting into work at 6:30 a.m. and pulling up data trends to see how my unit performed overnight has become routine. I’m always relieved when I find that everything had operated as expected. On other days, issues might have occurred such as an irregular temperature spike or production stopped and then resumed. My mind immediately goes into troubleshooting mode. To understand the root cause of issues, I look closely at production data or hunt down operators, because my number one imperative is to make sure I meet my production goals for the week.  

Although I’m busy with my day-to-day production activities, I always dream of making huge improvements to save my company millions of dollars and that maybe someday I can lead a Six Sigma project to make my mark. These dreams came crashing down as plant operators refused to implement new ideas that I proposed because their years of experience in running the plant had made them risk adverse. Finally, I was assigned a project by the plant manager to troubleshoot a distillation column. I had high hopes of making a difference, only to find it was a faulty level sensor causing the issue and an easy fix.

I now realize that having a simulation model of my process would have made troubleshooting much easier. Though I would have still relied on the operators for advice, this rule-of-thumb approach could have been replaced by sound, model-based decision-making for my chemical plant. The magnitude of risk when making recommendations to help optimize the process would have been drastically reduced. Being able to show the operators the relationships of different variables would have been a huge advantage for me in convincing them and others that the proposed changes were a good idea.

If  I’ve convinced you that using simulations models for making plant improvements is a good idea, you may have some questions:

-         A model-based approach sounds great, but how will I convince my manager that this is a good idea?

-         What are typical process characteristics that would make a model-based approach a particularly good opportunity?

Get answers to all of your questions live at our upcoming webinar, “Getting the Most out of Aspen Plus in Excel!”

Make Your Dream Come True!

Don't let your fears hold you back, listen to this webinar to hear how SABIC created heroes in their plant.


  • Tami Okano
    January 17, 2017 by Tami Okano / 0 Comment

    Dare to Make Positive Changes to Your Chemical Plant in 2017

    My gift to you this year is to let you in on a secret--a secret weapon that top chemical companies around the world don’t want you to know: they rely on a specific set of tools to help them.

  • Tami Okano
    February 09, 2017 by Tami Okano / 0 Comment

    Searching for Tips on How to Accelerate Column Design? Look No Further!

    Distillation columns are the most common pieces of equipment used in the chemicals and energy industries to separate components. The separation in a column is based upon differences in volatilities. Though columns are prevalent in the industry, designing and rating columns is no easy feat.