Process Automation

Recipes Controll and Batch Sequencing in the Polyamide Production

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The Batch software module manages the production recipes with the necessary flexibility to fit batch production into different lines, where different powder grades lead to substantially different final products.

In January 2007, production at the Mont site stopped for scheduled downtime. The Technical and Global Solutions teams from Rockwell Automation took advantage of this downtime to dismantle the older installation and switch to the new system. According to Christophe Brasseur, Global Solutions project manager, this was a time-critical migration project, as teams only had a two-week window in which to complete the operation. “We were concerned about the batches, and this new means — a revolutionary concept for us — of controlling a production unit,” confided Bégards, who also said that prototype modelling and testing to prepare for the upgrade was an important part of the project.

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On the date planned for the restart, the production unit commenced with two lines equipped with 15 % additional equipment and produced two sequenced batches without a single incident. Operators were trained to use the new Batch system during the downtime and managed the new lines without any difficulty.

How to Automate Critical Operations and Steps

All critical production operations for Orgasol (power-up, recipe management, etc.) are handled automatically by Plantpax. “To begin with, we did not really believe it,” states Bégards. “This approach to system control appeared complex. And yet the Batch solution is so well integrated that operations are totally transparent for operators. The system also allows for the flexibility necessary for any modifications and will help us to save time in future upgrades.”

Arkema has never regretted its decision to engage Rockwell Automation. Since the installation of Plantpax, it has increased its production capacity by more than 30 % and is proud of the consistently high production quality. “All our batches are now produced in an identical manner, which has allowed us to achieve unrivalled quality levels for such a complex process, so important in this market,” confirmed Bégards. Arkema’s Orgasol unit can now produce up to six different product batches using the various lines in parallel.

* The author is Sales Manager Process Automation, Rockwell Automation, Duesseldorf/Germany.

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