Engineering Save Costs With a Reliable CAE System
Global chemical company Kuraray switched the documentation procedure at its process plant in Höchst, Germany and opted for Rösberg’s Prodok NG computer aided engineering system for instrumentation and control. Stepwise and automatic migration of the existing plant data to the new consistent CAE system enabled Kuraray to set the course for future plant modernizations.
Modern process plants can only operate efficiently if the data from the planning phase of any new activities is also available for operation, maintenance and modernization. However, paper-based documentation is cumbersome, error-prone and hardly ever consistent. Mixtures of documents in Microsoft Word, Excel and CAD applications like Microstation are generally not totally efficient, either. Despite best efforts to maintain the documentation, still it does not necessarily tally reliably and at all times with the as-built plant reality.
However, only an accurate match between these two worlds can avoid costly new inputs and unnecessary engineering effort, and maximize plant availability. Switching to a future-safe I&C-CAE (Instrumentation & Control — Computer Aided Engineering) system that provides this consistency is a step that needs to be carefully considered, but it is definitely manageable. As the following example shows, migration can take place in stages, either during plant modernization or in operating plants, without having a negative impact on ongoing operations, because old data are available throughout, and the costs stay manageable.
Kuraray Europe makes many significant contributions in the chemical sector with high-performance materials, technologies and applications. To make sure it stays that way in the future, the enterprise continually invests in its production plants to keep them state-of-the-art. When modernizing a plant, it is essential to document all changes so that they are traceable and are available in the plant documentation for maintenance purposes and planning future projects.
Modernization of a Chemical Plant as an Opportunity
In 2016, Kuraray was converting a process plant located in Höchst, Germany (Figure 1) for the production of Poval polyvinyl alcohol, a water-soluble, biodegradable plastic used in the paper and consumer goods industries and as a packaging material. The company decided to set a course for the future by switching its documentation to an integrated I&C-CAE system. Until then Kuraray had been using a variety of different tools for documentation, and now the company wanted to combine them. “We were soon able to convince the decision-makers that our I&C-CAE system, Prodok NG, was the appropriate solution,” recalls Christian Stolz, Senior Account Manager – Plant Solutions at Rösberg Engineering. “We proposed a stepwise procedure, without starting again from scratch, and this ultimately proved to be financially interesting, too.”
Prodok NG (Figure 2) is a high-performance I&C-CAE system that ensures an integrated planning process with unified rules, and uses state-of-the-art software technology. This makes the system an out-of-the-box solution that is easy to use, flexible and inexpensive, and opens up many possibilities such as visualization, modularization, and integration into different system landscapes, databases and cloud applications.
First Analyze, Then Migrate
Before starting the migration, a comprehensive inventory was first carried out. Various tools were in use at Kuraray, including Microstation files for CAD drawings of control rooms, cabinets and terminals, Vinapp files for device data, and numerous Excel tables from many different trades. These all had to be transferred to the I&C-CAE system, and the conversion process needed to be automated as far as possible due to the volume of data.
After recording and checking the various formats and variants, the I&C-CAE system’s converter was adapted so that migrating the data to the new documentation system could be automated as far as possible. Thus, for example a total of 7,400 Microstation DNG files, comprising 3,600 wiring diagrams and 3,800 control room/cabinet documents, plus other types of documents (including 300 DXF files) were automatically converted into DWG files with drawing frames.
To these were added 2000 new loops with linked CAD-I&C loop diagrams in the new parts of the plant. “The data was present in the new documentation straight away, and could be gradually converted into intelligent CAD drawings with additional information depth,” says Elisabeth Wächter-Schäper, Head of Electrical & Instrumentation at Kuraray. “This meant that the documentation was always available throughout the migration, although not all documents became smart at the same time.”
The automation specialists followed a similar procedure when importing the project data and master data from the Vinapp systems. The data was first converted into Excel formats, and then imported and made available in Prodok NG’s device engineering. Existing data was taken over and could be easily completed by adding device-specific data, connection points and graphical symbols for the I&C loop diagrams, type examination certificates, instruction manuals, and Ex(i) data for safety calculations.
Current Documentation is Always Available
“The benefits of the migration are that there is now a unified system with one database, everyone concerned always has access to the current data, no documentation is duplicated — and the same could soon be true for all our locations via a possible cloud connection,” says Wächter-Schäper.
Following the successful conclusion of this project, another production plant was migrated to the new I&C-CAE system in 2018. The second plant produces Mowital polyvinyl butyral, a plastic used, for example, for printing inks and the films in laminated glass. Since the Mowital plant was not being modernized at the same time, the changeover to Prodok NG was faster since there was no input into the documentation from new projects.
Following both migrations, the automation experts trained Kuraray employees and also the I&C contractors, who now benefit from an extended workbench in the form of consistent documentation. This will be especially valuable in future modernizations. Changes that take place while the plant is in operation can now also be easily recorded and maintained in the documentation.
Continuity and timeliness are ensured by Livedok NG, a documentation software system tailored to the processes and requirements of engineering, commissioning and operational support of machines and production plants (Figure 3). Livedok NG offers the ability to administer, search and correct the documentation and plans of industrial plants digitally and in real time. Alterations, additions and new documents are imported straight away and are visible to all project participants. At Kuraray’s site in Höchst, all the plant data is available in the I&C-CAE system as digitalized as-built documentation, and can be kept up-to-date very easily with Livedok. The stepwise procedure has paid off — and the costs were manageable.