To respond to the company's key business drivers, Phillips Petroleum Co. planned a program of total integration and modernization of technology for its Sweeny Refinery and Petrochemical Complex in Old Ocean, Texas. But, like most other companies in its field, Phillips lacked the necessary resources to implement a major program like this on its own. Seeking a partner who would serve as a general automation contractor and assume project management responsibilities, Phillips turned to Honeywell ACS, Phoenix.
"Such an alliance offered single-source accountability for the modernization work and eliminated the burdensome bidding process encountered in traditional customer-contractor relationships," said Alan Autenrieth, instrument/electrical team leader of the Sweeny Complex. "Moreover, it reduced our overall total cost of ownership and improved our ability to respond to changing business conditions."
Phillips' decision to upgrade key aspects of its Sweeny operation resulted in a manufacturing automation plan (MAP), which enabled Phillips to implement modern process automation and information system technology throughout its complex. Phillips' Sweeny complex includes refining, chemical, NGL, ethylene and support utilities, as well as product control units.
The MAP project was completed in 2000 and delivered significant improvements in product throughput and energy use. Facilities and process lines that cut over to the new control and interlock technology experienced improved operating integrity. Overall, systems were able to remain in their normal operating modes while controlling fluctuations on charge, and fewer instances of unit downtime were noted.
Incorporating fault-tolerant systems addressed the challenge of having a remote control room support the unit's interlocks. The infrastructure also supported migration of relay-based systems to a fail-safe controller to improve reliability as determined by Safety Integrity Level and Layer of Protection Analysis evaluations.
Despite those improvements, Phillips plant managers were concerned about whether the company's modernization investment would remain current. Without a defined plan to identify areas for continued upgrades and a strategy to migrate the latest technological advances, the facility would be unable to continue to improve business performance. At the end of the MAP, Phillips launched an evaluation of a wide range of control and information hardware and a review of how various levels of software interfaced across the complex's 17 local control networks. This analysis, undertaken by Phillips personnel and Honeywell's technical support specialists, found that equipment in some areas of the facility had been overlooked during the initial modernization work or was no longer up-to-date. The identification of these weak links helped set the groundwork for planning future advanced technology implementation.
One of the key components of the improvement plan is the Solution Enhancement Support Program (SESP), which Phillips executed as part of its strategic alliance with Honeywell. SESP was co-developed by Honeywell and its global customers to enhance the results that companies realize from their investment in plant automation and information technology. The program allows users to decide how to manage, support and fund their control system needs. At the Sweeny complex, SESP ensures that the work undertaken through the MAP program does not become obsolete. A system performance baseline analysis is performed remotely on an annual basis to examine system utilization and throughput. Based on that analysis, recommendations for improvements are made.
SESP is part of a lifecycle management program designed to extend the life of control hardware and software applications while setting the stage for implementing the latest technology. The program leverages existing physical and intellectual assets and minimizes risks associated with system migration. "The SESP program also ensures our facility has full support for installed assets and access to the latest software releases," said Autenrieth.
In some cases, software updates can be downloaded via the Internet at an online support Web site, giving Phillips a remote problem-solving capability. Designated plant personnel can use a remote online connection to Honeywell's global technical support team on a 24/7 basis for help in problem resolution and troubleshooting. According to plant managers, the remote problem-solving capability reduced system support costs and ensured faster problem resolution.
"The benefits we have realized from SESP are numerous, including package pricing for hardware migrations and software upgrades, a simplified budgeting process for ongoing modernization work and fewer independent capital expense projects," said Autenrieth. "Automation system upgrades facilitated by SESP have improved the ability of our plant personnel to visualize processes and accurately monitor and control refining operations. This, in turn, supports optimization strategies that reduce 'giveaways,' save valuable working capital and increase the purity and value of our end products."