Modernizing a Biofuels Process? Avid Met the Challenge!

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One of the world’s leading green processing companies transforms plant sugars into biofuels for products in the food, home, personal care, chemical, and fuels industries.  When they acquired an idled manufacturing plant, a complete upgrade was required to operate in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards. Antiquated control system hardware, outdated control applications, extensive electrical degradation, and process equipment in disrepair, the facility was in dire need of cost-effective modernization.

An aggressive schedule for the modernization effort was required to meet the financial commitments dictated by the investors.  As the process control system was a critical path on the schedule, Avid Solutions engineers were chosen to define, design, develop, and deploy a Rockwell Automation PlantPAx Modern DCS to replace the antiquated 2000-point Yokogawa Centum distributed control system (DCS).  

In addition to the main PlantPAx DCS, a CompactLogix Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) was utilized connecting into the plant networks via Ethernet/IP. This PLC served as the facility’s main Building Management System (BMS) replacing an isolated Siemens utilities BMS.

Avid engineers assessed viability of the current assets and worked with the client to develop and document a project execution plan that minimized risk and cost, while maintaining the required schedule.

A new electrical control panel was designed. A PLC was used to terminate control room I/O and command remote I/O distributed throughout the facility.  Next, ten remote I/O stations were assembled and installed, each with the same set of hardware for easy replacement in the event of electrical system failure anywhere in the facility. The design was capped off with a plantwide Ethernet/IP ring network to reliably transmit data.

Avid’s engineers began PLC programming referencing the electrical designs created during the prior phase. Work on the new DCS began, using Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx objects for human visualization and control of all industrial equipment.

Working with the plant production manager, the team migrated a screen to the new system each week, transferring associated I/O terminations from the old DCS electrical cabinet to the new. After landing I/O points in the new enclosure, the programmers activated relevant PLC logic to test HMI tag mapping, PID loops, and other equipment control sequences.

Finally, control computers around the facilities were replaced with thin clients that synchronized with a central server to acquire application and process data. This facilitated management of application versions plantwide from the central server.  It also eliminated the need for a programmer to walk around and update every station in the facility individually when HMI updates were made.

Modernize to Create Value

The design, installation, and migration process lasted four months, meeting the expectations of the project’s stakeholders. Operations staff agreed every process area was easier to run than before. Additionally, new hardware and clean wiring dramatically improved asset efficiency, lowered operating costs, and increased production of biofuels.

Empowered by successful completion of the project, the producers and investors are planning to develop additional project to increase the productions of biofuels which will further the decarbonization of the energy supply chain.   Providing automation, IT/OT, and process control expertise that improve plant operations is at the heart of Avid’s mission to reduce manufacturers carbon footprint.  To learn more about Avid, contact us here!

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