Proper asset management lowers capital expenditure

  • Industry News
  • Nov 01,22
In this interaction with Rakesh Rao, Dr Ana Khanlari, Chemicals Industry Marketing Director, Aspen Technology Inc, explains the importance of proper asset management for chemical and other process industries
Proper asset management lowers capital expenditure

Demand for chemicals is increasing due to global population expansion and growing middle class population. For chemical manufacturers, proper management of assets become very crucial for ensuring safety (of both plant as well as people) and enhance efficiency of the plant. Aspen Technology (AspenTech) has been collaborating with the chemical industry to offer solutions for streamlining production planning, enhancing efficiency of operations, and improving asset reliability and lifecycle. In this interaction with Rakesh Rao, Dr Ana Khanlari, Chemicals Industry Marketing Director, Aspen Technology Inc, explains the importance of proper asset management for chemical and other process industries.

How is AspenTech serving the chemical process industry in India? How is AspenTech helping them to become efficient and smart?
AspenTech is working with Indian energy and chemical/petrochemical companies to address productivity, profitability, and sustainability challenges. We have had great success collaborating to streamline production planning, improve efficiency of operations, improve asset reliability and lifecycle, as well as on the sustainability front. India has pledged to become net-zero by 2070 and is investing to significantly add green hydrogen production capacity to lower dependence on imported hydrocarbon energy sources. AspenTech has the expertise and experience of working with the leading global renewable energy firms to develop new technologies and can partner with Indian companies to help them achieve their targets.

AspenTech offers energy and chemical companies solutions for the entire value chain optimization. We look at the value chain holistically starting from crude/raw materials sourcing to product distribution and management. In this way, we can identify where and how improvements can be made. Our solutions combine first principle engineering models with most recent technologies in AI and ML to enable seamless operations to improve bottom line, safety and reliability.

Why is proper asset management so critical for chemical and other process industries?
Proper asset management ensures longevity of an asset, lowering the capital expenditure needed to replace that asset. Assets can be lost due to a variety of reasons such as excessive fouling in a heat exchanger or vibration induced damage to rotating parts of a centrifugal compressor due to the slightest amounts of fouling. Using asset management solutions can provide advance warnings to the operations reducing risk of asset failure. Depending on the type of asset, the failure can cost from several hundreds to millions of dollars in repair, cleaning, or replacement expenses. On top of that is lost revenue due to production loss. Opening, cleaning and maintenance of equipment also poses health and safety hazards to operators as well as an environmental impact in terms of waste generation. Therefore, companies desire to closely monitor their assets to prevent from failures and unexpected downtime.

What are the key challenges facing chemical manufacturers today? How is your company helping them overcome some of these challenges?
The chemical industry is facing increasing consumer demand due to global population expansion, and growth in the global middle class. The World Economic Forum has estimated that chemicals demand will increase by 300 per cent by year 2050. At the same time, the industry is facing environmental crises: global warming and plastics pollution. In addition, volatility and uncertainty in markets brought by the pandemic or the conflict in Europe, has strained supply chains further and made access to energy resources scarce. Now, the industry is looking into ways to make processes more efficient, less pollutant and more resilient while minimising generated waste.

AspenTech offers operational excellence and sustainability solutions to our chemical manufacturing clients. We help them gain visibility over their operations; for example, where supply chain bottlenecks are or what needs to be done to resolve them. Our engineering and digital twin solutions provide visibility over plant operations, efficiency, and emissions. Our asset performance management solutions ensure reliability and optimal operation of assets and provide advance warning of potential problems. Our batch production management tools help to sequence and manage workflows minimizing human error in the process. All these solutions benefit from embedded AI and process analytics to ensure accuracy in models and predictions.

Are there low-cost options for process optimization and asset management?
It is difficult to determine what a low-cost software solution for a manufacturing facility is. That all depends on the facility’s strategic plans (long-term & short-term) and the value they are trying to gain from that solution. Based on our experience working with clients, a typical process optimization project in a chemical plant can create millions of dollars either in fuel cost savings or increased yield and recovery. Similarly, what’s the value that a company assigns to the reliable operation of a gas compressor or turbine? What would be the cost of production losses, repair and maintenance in case of a failure? In general, digital solutions offer high ROIs and cover original investments costs in a short period of time.

What are emerging trends in the process automation and optimization arena?
As the chemical industry is transitioning from its traditional state toward a circular and environmentally sustainable economy, digital solutions are at the forefront of this transition. Traditional solutions like digital twins are now used for new purposes like reducing emissions or minimizing energy usage. As new processes are becoming complex, there is a need to improve first principle models with data from operations to increase accuracy while providing better guidance for the operators. AspenTech hybrid models; for example, combine first principles of engineering with AI and machine learning (ML) to accurately reflect operations. These models can learn from past performance and control future operations creating operational autonomy. Hybrid models are particularly helpful when there is a gap in predictions from conventional simulation or there is a chance for future equipment failure. Maximising yield, minimizing emissions or energy usage and providing advance warning of equipment failures contribute to both profitability and sustainability of the process.

Are there any plans to launch new software? If yes, please elaborate.
AspenTech is always working to stay ahead of market shifts to help our clients address the technological or environmental challenges that they face by delivering next generation solutions to advance operational excellence and accelerate sustainability. We realise the challenges that our chemical industry clients are facing and constantly work to improve the accuracy and quality of our products leveraging new technologies like AI and ML with our industry domain expertise.

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