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Advanced Process Control for the Refining and Petrochemical Industry
Issue 1

Issue 2

Autumn 2003

Whitehouse Consulting

Process Control Newsletter

Delft process control courses filling quickly

Our full range of open-access process control courses will be run for the last time in 2003. The courses have been presented annually in Delft since 1994. This year's Basic and Advanced Courses are already well subscribed. Bookings are also coming in for the process-specific courses. Early signs are that all the courses will be well-attended. Delegates should book early to ensure a place.

Making full use of the excellent teaching facilities provided by the city's university, the courses will be on the following dates.

Basic

Nov 17th - 19th

Advanced

Nov 20th - 21st

Boiler/Heater

Nov 24th

Compressor

Nov 25th

Distillation

Nov 26th - 28th

Full details (in Dutch) can be obtained from the web site of our partner Paperwork. Or further information can be obtained from the training section of Whitehouse's web site.

Interested in an in-house course? These can be tailored as required and are a more economic solution if there are four delegates or more. The full range of modules is described on Whitehouse's web site. We can also structure on-site courses around some real controllers - a very effective way of demonstrating that the techniques really work!

Would you like to understand more about the technical content of courses, or what companies have used them? Just contact us.


Whitehouse participates in APC-Network.com

This site aims to bring value to the users of APC technology within the refining and petrochemical industry by providing up-to-date information which is essential when installing, upgrading or maintaining the technology. The developers strongly believe that the application of APC technology is highly profitable and are therefore promoting its wide use through exchange of ideas and technical discussions amongst the users and the suppliers. They also believe that this goal can only be achieved through an independent virtual community with no affiliations to the software and engineering companies.

Along with many other organisations, Whitehouse was pleased to be invited to present its products and capabilities.


Past papers available

A number of past papers written by Whitehouse personnel are included on our website. These cover subjects such as guidance on how to implement and support advanced control and justifying OM&S automation projects.

How to lose money with basic controls

In the June 1992 issue of Hydrocarbon Processing we had published the article How to lose money with advanced controls. It introduced the “Whitehouse rules”. If followed these would ensure almost total failure of an APC project. The intention of the article was of course to help sites avoid the common pitfalls. It failed completely so to do. Indeed, since then, the industry has discovered a whole new range of ways of getting things wrong. So many, that another single article would not do them all justice. Instead we focussed basic controls. How to lose money with basic controls will appear in October's issue of Hydrocarbon Processing. Rest assured that there remains plenty of material for further articles. The latest article has been included on our website.


ERTC keynote paper described as "excellent"

We were pleased to read in September's issue of Hydrocarbon Processing a review of the paper Advanced Control and Optimisation: The Next Challenge that we presented at the ERTC conference in Milan in June. Aimed at getting industry to address many of the problems associated with the use of APC, the full article has been included in our website.


Free controller tuning advice

A recurring problem encountered by Whitehouse, as is apparent in both the papers above, is poor algorithm selection and poor tuning of PID controllers. With this in mind we have been developing tuning technology for over 10 years and this is now a major part of our Toolkit that we supply to clients. Although the tuning charts on our web site are a greatly simplified version of the software, they can however be used to help with many controllers. We will be extending them to incorporate some of our more recent developments. To help clients evaluate our technology we are also happy to provide a limited amount of free advice by e-mail. Just contact us with your problem!


Not heard of Whitehouse before?

While training is an important part of business, we are primarily an independent consulting organisation specialising in the practical application of advanced control and information systems to the oil and petrochemical industries. Our aim is to ensure our clients exploit all the profit improvement opportunities in the most cost effective way. Since we provide neither the technology nor implementation services our clients can be confident that the advice we offer is impartial.

Whitehouse was established over ten years ago and has worked with many of the world's leading companies. Its consultants each have around 30 years experience. Full details of our services are available from our website. This also provides clients lists and contact details.

Parallel Coordinates included in Toolkit

In our last newsletter we announced the release of version 9 of our Process Control Toolkit and Training software. As usual we are grateful to the many users that suggested improvements and many of these have been included in the latest release, version 9.4. One addition which has proved to be particularly useful is Parallel Coordinates. By using historically collected process data, operating constraints can be imposed retrospectively to help predict what strategy would be followed by a multivariable controller when commissioned. It can also be used to help identify the most profitable operation, with or without APC.

The Toolkit now includes:

  • dynamic model identification
  • controller tuner
  • inferential property development
  • parallel co-ordinates
  • relative gain analysis
  • Lagrangian interpolation
  • pressure compensated temperature development
  • physical property database
  • engineering unit conversion utility

Full details, with some example screen displays, are on the Toolkit pages in our web site.

Whitehouse has also changed the licensing options to permit the Toolkit to be implemented standalone.

The training modules continue to be used extensively and over the last year users have been able to

  • learn about tight and averaging level control, and the use of non-linear algorithms
  • understand of process dynamics, PID tuning, the use of filters and feedforward control
  • see difficulties of controlling highly non-linear processes and how these can be overcome
  • explore the common compressor load control and surge protection schemes
  • implement solutions to problems associated with inherently unstable processes, long deadtimes, discontinuous measurements and variable dynamics
  • apply of all the common distillation control strategies, including inferential property control
  • design schemes for steam boilers and fired heaters to deal with changing fuel gas conditions, dual firing, excess air control and steam drum level control
  • understand process optimisation using multivariable control and an open-equation based optimiser

Full details are on the software pages in our web site.

Enhancements are underway for inclusion in version 10. As usual we would be pleased to receive suggestions from our users for improvements or additions.

It is not our policy to continue to send unsolicited e-mail to our clients. Recipients preferring not to receive future issues of this newsletter should not hesitate to e-mail its author, Myke King. The same address can be used to change the recipient or to add others.