The modern-day secret weapon for refineries

The modern-day secret weapon for refineries

AVEVA’s Livia Wiley pinpoints the benefits of predictive analytics for oil, gas and chemical companies

Elly Yates-Roberts |

This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox. 

When I bought my first car, I naively thought that I’d pay for it and be done. What I didn’t realise, however, was how much work and money would go into making sure it didn’t fail. Although there was no stopping some failures as my car aged, I was able to get the maximum amount of time possible out of my car by following the dealer’s best practices with oil changes, tyre rotation, and maintenance on the brakes and rotors. It’s expensive to buy a new car, so it had to last as long as my monthly payments – and hopefully longer.

Refineries and chemicals plants are much more complex than cars, and they have a much greater potential for failure. In addition to lost profit from downtime, there is the possibility of a safety incident with injury to property and personnel. The US Department of Energy reported that one US oil or chemical incident per day incurs on average an estimated cost over US$2 million per incident. 

Predictive asset analytics can provide early warning notification and diagnosis of equipment issues days, weeks or months before failure. This helps asset-intensive organisations reduce equipment downtime, increase reliability and improve performance, while reducing operations and maintenance expenditures.

One major industrial gases company has hundreds of plants around the world. Many of these plants are too small to have personnel stationed onsite, so this industry leader remotely runs them using enterprise data that comes into a centralised site from each facility. From there, predictive analytics are used to compare current performance against historical trends and, after rules-based logic is applied, alarms will sound if a process or piece of equipment is outside the normal range of operation or compliance. It’s similar to my car dashboard alerting me to low pressure in a tyre without me having to manually check tyre pressures daily or hourly and compare them to normal operation. This means I can fix that low pressure before something drastic and costly happens.

Having a predictive maintenance strategy can help asset-intensive organisations increase asset performance, reliability and availability to ultimately maximise economic return. In a recent webinar with Hydrocarbon Processing, the global industrial gases leader detailed how its predictive maintenance strategy derives real value (to the tune of more than US$500,000) by detecting equipment failures before they occur and preventing unscheduled system downtime.  

Livia Wiley is marketing director for Oil and Gas at AVEVA

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