Control & Automation What is Advanced Process Control? A Concept for Tomorrow

Editor: Dominik Stephan

Capitalizing on the full potential of modern control techniques is vital to enhance production and remain competitive for any industry with complex processes. Advanced Process Control (APC) is a cutting-edge technology that maximizes operational performance and process profitability, thus enabling companies to gain more from their assets.

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Adaptive Process Control improves long-term profitability by reducing process variability and allows plants to be operated optimally
Adaptive Process Control improves long-term profitability by reducing process variability and allows plants to be operated optimally
(Picture: Aspentech)

Modern process plants are becoming more complex. With commercial pressures to optimize product quality and maximize profits, refineries, ethylene and chemical plants, etc., face operational problems and constant changes in terms of feedstock, temperature and operational targets. In this scenario, protecting assets becomes vital to ensure that the production runs smoothly and engineering time is used efficiently.

What is Advanced Process Control

The advent of APC that delivers the perfect combination – maximizing throughput and saving energy costs while meeting operational constraints resulting in significant increase in profitability – has brought about a revolution in the process industry. Previously, if a company selected APC, it had to heavily rely on highly experienced specialists to perform time-consuming tasks for maintaining and utilizing the technology.

These engineers also had to spend a huge amount of time with less sophisticated tools in an attempt to better control plant behavior, which was not optimal because of the lack of leading-edge software. The scenario has changed today; with the help of APC manufacturers can independently and optimally maintain the running of plants by using intuitive and highly advanced software.

The Need for Control Technology

While it is critical to operate a plant safely and prevent production disruption, optimizing operation is equally important. Change occurs constantly as feedstock composition and ambient conditions alter. Each change that occurs makes an impact on production, and hence the aim is to manage variables to achieve the right quality and quantity of the product required. If the predictive behavior of a plant is known, one can take appropriate measures on time to keep the plant at the optimal target.

The plant operators are not in a position to manually react to such changes and conduct corrective actions on a minute-by-minute basis and in an optimal way. APC enables manufacturers to resolve these issues. It can be applied to any process where outputs can be optimized on-line and in real-time, and any shop floor that has a distributed control system or programmable logic circuit in place and where it is possible to model the dynamic predictive behavior of the plant.

Discover the Benefits of APC Implementation

APC implementation offers several benefits; for example, it improves process safety and reduces environmental emissions. Moreover, by reducing process variability, it will be possible to operate plants at their designed capacity. The software automatically improves operational efficiency; maximizes process profitability and business competitiveness; reduces cost, maintenance time and disruption through real-time asset optimization; and delivers improved visibility and decision support.

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