The improvements required by ITS' customer, a chemical manufacturer in the North East of England, were driven by the need for greater efficiency in both the collection and analysis of data. Prior to the installation, batch data was manually collected, hand written, and therefore further effort was required to get the data into a format whereby useful information could be extracted from it and analyses could take place.

The customer's system was upgraded by ITS with the addition of a batch control system, capable of automatically controlling the plant by means of Unit Operations. The new system had to function in accordance with the principles of the ISA-88 batch control standard.

The batch control system enables the plant to be controlled in a more intelligent way by allowing it to be operated in an automated manner, driven by pre-defined sets of instructions, known as recipes.

The new system, designed, built and installed by ITS, provides a number of operational modes to cater for normal process operation, process experiments and, as a last resort, manual operation of the reactor via the control system's user interfaces.

The batch control system enables the operation of the plant to be tuned to achieve efficiency improvements and cost reductions. Such tuning is now affected by incremental adjustments to product recipes, after any experimentation with the process has been performed.

The new system has provided a mechanism whereby batch data can be automatically generated and logged in a form suitable for analysis and remote access. Any data so logged is in a textual form, which can be understood by operators, and loaded into standard PC software packages for analysis.

The system provides dual redundant control and monitoring of the plant equipment and contributes towards a total process reliability of over 99%.

ITS' customer has a single stream multi-product batch plant producing a variety of products. The current product state comprises more than one hundred different recipes, of which around twenty are active.

Currently, textual process notes define each recipe. These list the process operations step-by-step and the parametric data for each step.

Operation of the plant is from a control room within the main plant building. Panel mounted instruments are currently used for regulatory control. A hard-wired trip system ensures reactor integrity.

This phase of the project has involved the automation of the 'front end' of the plant, including the load tank and the reactor. Future expansion of the system may include automating the treatment tank, test tank and blend tank and monitoring the raw material and finished product storage farms.

Although the control system was not to be sized for the future expansion at this stage, it had to be considered in the overall design, to ensure that the system can be upgraded in the future.

Prior to the installation, operators recorded batch information manually on paper. Subsequently supervisors manually keyed some of this information into the works VAX information system. Various PC based software packages were used for further analysis. The new system is required to link into a plant area management information system.

Due to the significant benefits that the project brought to the customer, ITS' team was responsible for successfully completing another similar project to upgrade Reactors 4, 5, and 6.

The operating systems, PLC combinations designed, installed and configured by ITS conform to the customer's corporate software standards. The operator interface also conforms to the strict company standards, and the high level programming was in accordance with IEC 61131 and ISA-88 . The customer was happy with the execution of the first project undertaken by ITS and the benefits that the project brought to their operators. Their satisfaction is evident through ITS being approached as the preferred solution provider to complete the upgrades to Reactors 4, 5 and 6.