Successfully Automating Terminal Operations

July/August 2014 Tank Storage magazine

July/August 2014 Tank Storage magazine

Making an operational step change in a production process involves a clear vision and people, processes and tools to execute the vision. A July/August 2014 Tank Storage magazine article, Automating terminal operations, highlights the story of Vopak transforming their operations from remote manual to fully integrated.

Emerson’s Cor Vermeijs and Chris Amstutz collaborated with Vopak’s Louis Janssen and Peter Owen to tell the story. They open:

Vopak, like any terminal, stores, manages and handles multiple products owned by multiple customers. Physical terminal processes encompass (un)loading of trucks, barges, ships and trains, terminal internal transports and stock keeping. These physical processes must be conducted in compliance with a customer’s requirements and according to planning that takes into account tight administrative processes such as pipeline administration, stock management, and scheduling.

The authors describe three modes of operation (remote) manual, automated, and integrated. In (remote) manual mode, operators make manipulations remotely from a central control room. In automated mode, the loops are closed and managed by the control system. In an integrated mode of operation: Continue Reading

The Cost of Nanotechnology

Robert Ferris, Ph.D. Strategic Planner

Robert Ferris, Ph.D.
Strategic Planner

Author: Robert Ferris, Ph.D.

Nanotechnology-enabled products deliver a step change in performance, but come with an order-of-magnitude increase in manufacturing energy consumption.

Nearly every nanotechnology article holds some sort of future promise; clean energy, reduced Carbon Dioxide emissions, or even a cure for cancer. With all these promises, however, you have to wonder if there is a downside. Is there a dirty little secret nanotechnology isn’t telling us? Some are concerned about, human toxicity, ecosystem degradation, or destructive nanobots. But none of these issues are fundamental across all nanomaterials. While some nanomaterials can negatively impact human health or the environment, many more are completely inert. In many respects, development of nanomaterial poses no greater threat to human society then the industrial revolution. But nanotechnology-enabled products are being sold now. Very few people realize that nanotechnology-enabled products will make up a $3 Trillion market in 2015. (see figure 1) So one has to ask; what is the cost of all this innovation?

Figure 1) Forecast based on Lux Research’s value chain ontology. According to Lux, projections were triangulated from bottom-up, top-down, analogical, and third-party market estimates, as well as advanced evolutionary models. (Source: Lux Research Report "Sizing Nanotechnology’s Value Chain")

Figure 1) Forecast based on Lux Research’s value chain ontology. According to Lux, projections were triangulated from bottom-up, top-down, analogical, and third-party market estimates, as well as advanced evolutionary models. (Source: Lux Research Report “Sizing Nanotechnology’s Value Chain“)

Every disruptive innovation comes at a cost and nanotechnology is no different. There is a common underlying cost to manufacturing nanomaterials. That cost is embodied energy or the total sum of all energy put into the production of a given weight of nanomaterial. Nanotechnology-enabled products require a lot of embodied energy to produce. In fact, most nanomaterials require one or two orders of magnitude more energy to produce an equal weight of bulk materials. Continue Reading

Oil and Gas Intelligent Field and Integrated Operations

Meeting energy production targets is a constant battle for global oil & gas producers. Today, the International Digital Oilfield Conference kicked off in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The conference organizers highlighted ways producers are addressing this challenge:

Fast and easy access to reliable information is critical to enable engineers and management to make the right decisions in real time to meet both operational and longer-term strategic objectives.

IOCs [international oil companies] and NOCs [national oil companies] are continuing to employ Digital Oil Field (DOF) policies in their green and brown field business planning as its purpose is to increase production and operational efficiency while reducing costs which have been demonstrated across several DOF activities in this region.

Jeff Dymond Director, Oil & Gas Industry Solutions Group

Jeff Dymond
Director, Oil & Gas Industry Solutions Group

Emerson’s Jeff Dymond is at the conference and presented at the kickoff session, Remote Operations, Reliable Operations, Optimizing Operations and Safe Operations. His presentation, Intelligent Field and Integrated Operations explored how technology and expertise were coming together to bring the right experts at the right time to operate more efficiently.

Jeff highlighted key business drivers for IOCs and NOCs which include improving capital project costs, adopting best practices and simplification in company standards, improving the velocity of project deployment, optimizing procurement, reducing emissions cost effectively, meeting local content requirements, and maintaining organizational skills and expertise.

Known by many names including Field of the Future, Smart Field, Digital Oil Field, this strategy is about leveraging existing and emerging technologies to do allow oil companies to manage their operations more efficiently and effectively. Continue Reading

Regulatory and Model Predictive Control Difference?

Over in LinkedIn’s Process Control group, a question was asked:

What is the difference between regulatory and model predictive control. Is it possible that MPC work as stand alone without regulatory control?

Emerson’s Chowyang Neo offered:

Chowyang Neo Sales & Marketing Manager

Chowyang Neo
Sales & Marketing Manager

Regulatory Control generally refers to good old PID loop control. Gaps between the SP and PV known as errors are being fed to a PID controller so that Process Variables (PV) is then being steered closer towards the setpoint (SP) based on the magnitude of the error. There can be more advanced variants of this simple PID – cascade, ratio, feedforward etc. But all of these are generally considered as Regulatory or Adv Regulatory Control.

The use of model based technique is driven more by the complex, multi-variable nature of some of the processes we see in this industry. The level control of boiler is a classic example with many factors playing a part….Have a read to get more

Emerson’s Lou Heavner added:

Lou Heavner Systems/Project Engineering Consultant

Lou Heavner
Systems/Project Engineering Consultant

There is a hierarchy of process control starting with open loop, where the operator is the controller. He makes manual adjustments to valves and other final control elements to keep the process at operating targets or within operating constraints. This represents the absence of automation. Next up the hierarchy there are feedback controllers that take the place of the operator automatically closing the loop, with PID being the most prevalent by far. This basic level of feedback control is inherently single loop in nature. Continue Reading

Impacting Technology Advancements at Emerson Exchange Conference

Update and bump: If you’ll be joining us in Orlando in a couple of weeks, you can now sign up for the Usability Testing to influence the direction of many important technologies.

Original Post: Inspiring-IngenuityThe Emerson Global Users Exchange conference is the preeminent conference for knowledge exchange for process automation and instrumentation professionals using Emerson technologies and working with Emerson experts. The next conference is October 6-10 in Orlando, Florida.

I wanted to mention this since this Friday, August 15 is the deadline for early registration to save $US 400 on your conference fees. You can save $200 by registering on or before September 16.

If you’re an Emerson Exchange 365 community participant, make sure you check out the Dinner with an Expert opportunity to connect with your peers and fellow experts.

Human Centered Design approach

The Emerson Exchange conference is also an opportunity to have your voice impact the development of technologies through a human centered design approach. Some of the product brands which will be seeking your input include Rosemount, Fisher, Micro Motion, Reliability Solutions and DeltaV.

The Human Centered Design (HCD) team will be conducting usability testing during these hours at the conference: Continue Reading