Five benefits of simulating your process control system and process design

For the oil, gas and chemical industry, simulation translates to real results

In another blog post, I explained the benefits that electrical control system and process power simulation offers the oil, gas and chemical industry.

This time, we’re going to explore another area where simulation can make a significant difference: process control system and process design.

Removing risk through realistic models

Here’s one example. As plants approach their principal project milestone – plant startup – a simulation tool can fully model all critical systems and connected equipment, enabling plant officials to validate that each operational aspect is working as expected.

In doing so, operators and other decision makers can see how equipment will behave under all realistically anticipated conditions and scenarios.

 Of course, existing plants have plenty to gain from control system simulators, too. Since simulators are disconnected from the physical processes, and instead use a dynamic process model to emulate the actual plant production environment, they can help operators learn how to mitigate safety risk, avoid unplanned shutdowns, abbreviate startup times following plant outages and more, all without interfering with actual systems in operation.

Five benefits of a simulator

Here are the primary examples of how you can benefit from process control simulation:

  1. Testing and training on new processes, designs and configurations: Shorten commissioning time at startup and address the challenges imposed by employee, equipment or process turnover.
  2. Improved operator training and education. Simulate an environment that is virtually identical to actual plant operations to enhance operator performance through safe, practical, offline training and skill development.
  3. Comprehensive scenario testing. Decrease or eliminate shutdown time by giving operators the ability to test proposed process updates and operational changes, and reduce maintenance costs by identifying issues on the simulator instead of in the plant.
  4. Increased safety. Reduce risk before commissioning by allowing users to gain familiarity and build process and operational competencies before deploying to offshore locations.
  5. Entire life cycle simulation: Predict the consequences of all design changes, DCS configuration changes, new commissioning, and modifications – and validate optimizations before you execute them.

A better simulation solution for the ABB 800xA control system

 We’ve been working to provide users of the ABB 800xA control system with an enhanced solution for simulation. Since 800xA simulator can be virtualized, it is a cloud-based solution for operator training and control system/process design testing.

As a cloud solution, it provides greater access than other available options – and with less hardware and software to manage and accommodate on premises. Start-up is fast, and we’re constantly rolling out new updates. Enhanced cybersecurity helps keep your data safe, both in transit and in our data centers.

Essentially, it provides an environment that is nearly identical to your actual plant engineering and operations system. One where you can freely test changes before you make them, simulate plant startup, or train operators without safety or productivity risks.

Like ABB Process Power Simulator, this updated solution is an example of how we’re helping process industries become safer and more efficient – and helping them more easily meet the challenges they face today.

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About the author

Dan Overly

I am Global Head of Product and Business Development for BU Oil, Gas and Chemicals. In this role, I manage the BU portfolio of products and the responsible product managers to ensure alignment with market and customer requirements. I enforce global standardization of products to ensure consistent delivery and performance in all countries. I am also responsible for expanding our offering through strategic partnerships and inorganic growth potential to further enhance ABB’s value to our clients. I joined ABB in 1987 and has held various roles in engineering, sales, marketing, regional management, product management, enterprise software and global services. I obtained a BS in Electrical Engineering and currently live in the US.
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