Visualizing plant performance management optimization

Enabling integrated plant performance management is becoming easier with new tools available to widen optimization of individual units or areas.
By Control Engineering August 5, 2018

Yokogawa uses the term “synaptic performance indicators” (SPIs) to identify an improved set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to optimize plant operations. Courtesy: Yokogawa

Integrated plant performance management is becoming more important, as unit optimization advances. Control Engineering spoke with Yokogawa Electric Corp.’s Yasunori Kobayashi, manager of the Solution Development Dept., Business Planning Division at Premium Solutions and Service Business headquarters, about related topics.

Control Engineering: Do you hear from customers that there is misalignment of objectives across organizations within process facilities and if so, why is that?

Yasunori Kobayashi: Yes, the reasons are:

  • Siloed organizational structure and conflict among organizational units
  • The design of layered performance metrics from management to the front line required to solve this issue is not being done
  • The visualization of the layered performance metrics has not been achieved
  • Plant management is trying systems from IT vendors that mainly deliver visualization, but because these companies do not have best practices regarding the design of performance metrics, these often fail to deliver.

CE: What are the risks or challenges related to such misalignment? Can you give examples?

Kobayashi: The management strategy and/or production strategy may not be reaching the front-line operators. The efforts being made by the front-line operations are not being reflected in the management or production results. It is difficult to identify the true issues.

CE: Process facilities often have focused on process optimization. Under what circumstances might optimization of individual processes not be the best path, and how can facilities know?

Kobayashi: The integrated plant performance management solution brings visibility to the impact that each individual process is having on the overall plant performance. It supports the shift from "event-driven" to "profit-driven" operation and provides guidance and direction for delivering overall optimization by focusing on comprehensive performance metrics.

CE: Is selection of appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) for integrated plant performance management different from selecting appropriate process setpoints? What are similarities and differences, and what other advice do you have for measuring, monitoring, and responding to the right KPIs?

Caption: Control room operators can use Karaoke-type dashboards to improve plant production, profits, energy use, reliability and safety (left side of diagram), guided by the operator instructions shown on the right side of diagram. Courtesy: Yokogawa

Kobayashi: If optimizers and advanced process control (APC) models are being continuously updated and functioning well, then optimal setpoints will be set for each controller, but this is often not the case, so in reality many judgement calls and adjustments are being left up to the operator. In this situation, operators are required to fulfill and hopefully optimize current operation and production strategies, while also keeping an eye on how to balance conflicting management objectives. This is an impossible task in most cases.

CE: Please address other risks related to lack of widescale visibility. Are anticipated or proven benefits here similar to gains made by applications of APC techniques to processes? What are the anticipated rewards?

Kobayashi: The benefits are generally similar to those that can be obtained from APCs and optimizers, but in many cases, the internal models for these are not being properly updated, so the operator still plays a large role. The cause of decreases in the performance levels of management objectives does not always lie in the controllability. In those situations, it also is necessary to check for potential causes in the technical area as well.

CE: In applying visibility software and dashboards, is domain knowledge about petrochemical industries important and why? How should such software integrate with existing software without duplication of functionality? Can you give examples?

Kobayashi: By leveraging best-in-class domain knowledge for each target process, we can understand which value needs to be controlled within what range (or target), and how that is related to the high-level management objectives, and also the method to achieve that control value target. In addition, without domain knowledge, it is not possible to associate and integrate each performance metric across the management, engineering, and operations levels.

CE: How does this type of software differ from software available in distributed control systems, manufacturing execution system, manufacturing operation management, or enterprise resource planning software? Why are those distinctions important?

Courtesy: Yokogawa

Kobayashi: The best-in-class domain knowledge is not built into these applications. Until now, they relied entirely on the customers’ knowhow. These brought visibility to the performance metrics at each level, but unified visibility across the systems from the perspective of the management objectives was not being achieved.

CE: Industrial automation software is only useful if understood, used, applied, updated, and trusted. Please address these issues related to visibility and usefulness of operations dashboards.

Kobayashi: The key is how to motivate the front line to carry out high profitability operations. One solution that the integrated plant performance management solution offers is a "karaoke-style dashboard." With this dashboard, it is possible for operators to clearly see the gap between the expected performance and the current performance for the various management objectives. We believe the first step in digital transformation is to connect the various sets of data existing in different parts of the organization, and to enable integrated visibility from the management perspective.

MORE ANSWERS

KEYWORDS: Control Engineering, control, process control, optimization, visualization  

Key concepts

Management strategy and/or production strategy may not be reaching the front-line operators.

The integrated plant performance management solution brings visibility to the impact that each individual process is having on the overall plant performance.

The benefits are generally similar to those that can be obtained from advanced process control and optimizers, but in many cases, the internal models for these are not being properly updated, so the operator still plays a large role. 

CONSIDER THIS

Is management’s strategy and/or production strategy reaching the front-line operators in your plant?