Optimising automation in manufacturing production using digital technology

Posted on 5 Feb 2021 by The Manufacturer

With digital technology at the heart of industrial progression, Nikesh Mistry illustrates how a Siemens’ automated process solution has helped one Bradford company achieve new site production records in processing waste water.

With Brexit underway and a post-pandemic recovery plan being formulated, the UK manufacturing industry needs to find a way to kickstart its improved productivity journey and end economic stagnation. If we want the UK to emerge a digital world leader, we must ensure that digital technology that can reshape production and consumption are rapidly adopted.

While doing this, we can also enhance the future-proofing of industry in encouraging not only the investment in digital technology solutions, but also on technologies that will improve productive efficiency, energy usage and minimise waste. Resource efficiency needs to be considered, adapting to an ever-changing environment.

With remote working at an all-time high in 2020 due to obvious reasons, the necessity to remotely monitor manufacturing systems has vastly increased.

According to a recent report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 91% of industrial companies are investing in creating digital factories in the heart of Europe and 98% of them expect to increase efficiency through using digital technologies.

It’s safe to say that digital factories are at the top of the industry priority level and one of our GAMBICA members describes below a use case scenario of an improvement in efficiency though the adoption of an automated process solution.

Member case study: The Bradford Solution

Siemens’ total integrated automation and process solutions with data analytics are helping optimisation of acrylamide and polyacrylamide production at Kemira’s Bradford factory.

A global expert in chemical solutions with a manufacturing presence in more than 40 countries, Kemira serves water intensive customers in the paper, oil and gas, mining and water treatment industries.

A global expert in chemical solutions with a manufacturing presence in more than 40 countries, Kemira serves water intensive customers in the paper, oil and gas, mining and water treatment industries.

Using the SIMATIC PCS 7 system alongside Siemens’ intelligent field instrumentation, the acrylamide plant operator at Kemira’s Bradford site can view every aspect of the plant functionality.

On its Bradford site of approximately 50,000 sqm the company produces a range of polyacrylamide products which are used for the cleaning of municipal and industrial waste water. For many years the acrylamide was sourced from a Kemira plant in The Netherlands. To improve the use of resources and minimise waste the company set out to bring the manufacture of acrylamide on site.

For a plant that operates 24/7 and is a worldwide distribution hub for more than 3,000 customers, selection of the technology solution was key. But the solution was not difficult to find; two of Kemira’s polymer production sites in North America and Europe were successfully using Siemens’ distributed control system (DCS), SIMATIC PCS 7, for plant automation. This prompted the Kemira UK team to engage with Siemens to tender the solution.

Integrated site control systems

SIMATIC PCS 7 is a fully integrated and engineered DCS solution used in chemical and process plants across the world. Management and control of processes are at the core of the solution, ensuring there is consistent performance, high availability and safety.

The Bradford project involved planning for the safe offloading and storage of the raw material, acrylonitrile; creating three reactors in which acrylonitrile would be converted to acrylamide; and constructing two large tanks to store the acrylamide that was produced.

A global expert in chemical solutions with a manufacturing presence in more than 40 countries, Kemira serves water intensive customers in the paper, oil and gas, mining and water treatment industries.

Acrylamide and polyacrylamide production is being optimised at Kemira’s Bradford site using total integrated automation and process solutions.

The SIMATIC PCS 7 system was integrated into the new plant alongside Siemens’ intelligent field instrumentation for accurate process measurement. This provided a fully integrated Siemens solution that covered both the control and measurement aspects of the process. The Profibus communication protocol was used for data communication between field devices and the DCS, creating the perfect opportunity for Kemira to gather data to provide key insights into their production process.

A workstation located in the new building enables the acrylamide plant operator to view every aspect of the plant functionality. This computer is connected to the site control system network and linked with an archive software that collects and stores detailed operational data.

“Information and the ability to run the process and to look back at our historical data is very important,” says Paul Turfrey, Technical Manager. “We can use this information to track our daily activity and aim for continuous improvement.”

The new plant began producing acrylamide in June 2017 and, by capturing and analysing data from the PCS 7 system, Kemira has been able to drive significant improvements in the efficiency of the process, achieving a near 50% increase in peak production rate. Cycle time has been significantly reduced and new weekly and monthly site production records have been set.

“We are self-sufficient in acrylamide production and we have eliminated a yearly total of 1,600 tanker deliveries. In addition, the process is quicker and runs at a lower temperature. With a safe and efficient plant, we can focus on improving the manufacturing process and reducing batch times further,” concludes Paul.

Nikesh Mistry, Sector Head, Industrial Automation, GAMBICANikesh Mistry is Sector Head, Industrial Automation, GAMBICA – the UK association for instrumentation, control, automation and laboratory technology


Photos courtesy of GAMBICA