Evonik Industries, a world leader in specialty chemicals, is one of the first in its sector to successfully introduce a new process control system with real-time optimization (RTO) in selected production plants.
Real-time optimization serves as an extension to advanced process control systems (APCs) which facilitate the monitoring and technically optimum operation of modern chemical plants. The real-time optimization that has now been developed allows chemical plants to be controlled optimally both in technical and economical terms. A real-time optimization system constantly incorporates not only measurement data from the plant, but also various market data-prices for raw materials and energy, for example, as well as current market demand. Using all of this data, the RTO system permanently calculates the optimal operating condition of the plant and sends this information to the advanced process control system, which then controls the plant.
For the Evonik plants, real-time optimization results in an estimated savings potential of €50 million, which Evonik hopes to realize by the year 2025. "For us, advanced process control measures such as APC and RTO are vital tools for operating our processes efficiently and optimally in terms of the use of raw materials and energy," says Dr. Martin Harrmann, head of technology in the Performance Intermediates Business Line.
Until recently, real-time optimization was predominantly used in the large plants of the refining and petrochemical industries. In the past six years, Evonik has equipped 24 plant units belonging to the Performance Materials Segment with advanced process control systems.
"The key to our success in introducing real-time optimization was to combine the expertise of the process and automation engineers. We benefited primarily from the know-how of the employees working at the plants and from Evonik’s extensive experience in process simulation," explains Dr. Hans-Rolf Lausch, who is responsible for computer aided process engineering & automation in the Process Technology & Engineering Business Line at Evonik.
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