Global chemical industry needs integrated engineering

In addition to advanced management requirements, large volumes of data need to be available and up-to-date at all times from planning to operation. This requires a highly integrated engineering process over the entire lifecycle of plants.


Miguel-Angel Fernandez, director of automation and engineering Chemicals, Siemens AG, at the 6th annual meeting of NAMUR. Courtesy: Control Engineering ChinaModern industrial plants are distinguished by an extremely high level of complexity. In addition to advanced management requirements, large volumes of data need to be available and up-to-date at all times from planning to operation. This requires a highly integrated engineering process over the entire lifecycle of plants, according to Miguel-Angel Fernandez, director of automation and engineering chemicals, Siemens AG, who spoke at the annual meeting of the user association of automation technology in the process industries (NAMUR). NAMUR held its 6th China Annual Meeting in Shanghai on Nov. 19-20, 2014. The topic of the annual meeting was integrated engineering.

When talking about the difference between integrated engineering needs in process industries and in manufacturing industries, Fernandez pointed out that manufacturing industries will likely go through more rapid changes while process industries may encounter slower changes.

The basic mode of manufacturing industries is production of parts and assembly of products. The goals of automation upgrading are to improve manufacturing flexibility and shorten time to market to meet market changes, such as increasingly personalized demand and the rapid shortening of the product lifecycle. The changes are particularly evident in industries like consumer electronics.

In contrast, the process industries show slower changes. End users tend to be more conservative; they are more concerned about how to optimize processes, save energy, reduce emissions, improve working conditions, and enhance operational levels on the premise of ensuring safety and reliability. These topics need to be gradually improved and optimized under the integration of data flow.

According to Fernandez, through the integration of COMOS and distributed control systems (DCS) of Simatic PCS 7, Siemens has achieved necessary integration, including engineering design and implementation, plant management, the process control system, and equipment configuration.

Integration optimizes process engineering, resulting in shorter time to market, and optimized plant design, execution, and operation. Automated data comparison ensures that the latest plant documentation is available at all times. Current and engineered data can be accessed in maintenance, which avoids system shutdown in plant design, execution, and operation. Thanks to the consistent data management and seamless data transmission within process design and process automation systems, customers can benefit from increased productivity, higher efficiency, and more flexibility.

Of course, integrated engineering will not be achieved overnight. According to Fernandez, there is still a long way to go for the wide recognition of integrated engineering in process industries. However, it is encouraging to see real needs from industry customers through activities organized by industrial users like NAMUR and from participating in many detailed discussions.

Development of the Chinese chemical industry market will be the foremost driver for the development of the global chemical industry. This is Fernandez's conclusion based on his years of experience in the chemical industry. In-depth involvement in high-value-added segments will be an important strategy in the chemical field. Seeing the Chinese chemical industry's growing interest in innovation and integration, Fernandez said that he is optimistic about the Chinese chemical market.

- Edited by Joy Chang, digital project manager, Control

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