Automatingthoughts imagination ofindustry

Automating the thoughts and imagination of the industry

5:36 AM, 27th December 2017
Automating the thoughts and imagination of the industry
Niraj Vinayak, Vice President, Oil & Gas and Chemicals, Industrial Automation, ABB India.

In an interview, Niraj Vinayak, Vice President, Oil & Gas and Chemicals, Industrial Automation, ABB India with Chemical Today Magazine delves into ways in which demand for chemicals is forcing industries to adopt automation to enhance operations.

By Debarati Das

Global automation trends in chemical industry. 

The chemical, oil & gas industry has had dependence on automation in most sub-verticals to the extent that it has remained one of the mission-critical equipment for plant operations. As the eco-system shifts due to changes in oil & gas prices and due to several other market dynamics (some of which are here to stay) the impact of oil & gas upstream industry drivers have also an influence over downstream refining, petrochemicals and chemical industry. Most of the automation needs of the industry today are more in brownfield projects versus majority green-field projects a couple decades back. Hence the approach towards inter-operability between various systems and technologies becomes one of the key factors to success going forward. Obsolesce of installed technologies and availability of right kind of technical abilities to maintain is another key factor for both the end-users and solutions providers of automation in the chemical industry.

Technology advancement in automation.  

For new investments in chemical industry, new technologies available from several industry solution providers are moving towards more modular offering through Ethernet-based IO interfaces, thereby de-coupling project delivery from automation systems design & engineering. These could be a few key global automation trends and drivers in the chemical, oil & gas industry apart from others.

Many new technologies allow for smaller footprint of control & safety systems, coupled with better diagnostics and asset management capabilities. The advent of IOT has also raised a huge awareness in management circles on how technology, which was already available in pockets, can be put to better use and decision making coupled with comprehensive data analytics to make more informed and effective decisions.

Factors supporting automation implementation by chemical industry. 

With lowering of oil prices, the industry is ever more competitive – continuously trying to bring costs down and improving quality. The demand for chemicals is always on the increase with consumption being led by higher disposable incomes and urbanization. Given this scenario, the segment is increasingly focusing on enhancing operations through automation. Automation can enable better operations through higher productivity and enhanced safety for humans and processes.

Automation requirements by chemical industry in developed and emerging markets.

Emerging markets will see more greenfield investments and the requirements will be different as compared to developed markets which will see more challenges around brownfield operations and struggle with obsolescence of technologies.

Sectors witnessing increased adoption of automation in Indian chemical industry.

The country’s refining, petrochemical & chemical sector is expanding at a healthy pace. But a combination of moves and changes will be needed to meet India’s fast-growing demand for petrochemical intermediates. This segment has to particularly adapt more automation including integrated enterprise systems with process & power automation that offer better decision making, lower energy cost and enhance overall operational profitability.

Evolution of software solutions in India market.

The software has been an integral part of this sector and is major part of the solution offered under the so referred industrial automation. Digital signals were and even today are the backbone of this sector and others in the oil & gas and chemical industry. The scale of automation or software and capability to handle complexities has improved over time. Specific applications and software solutions are now available to optimize various processes to get better yield, lower energy consumption and improve uptime.

Future of things for the chemical industry.

Currently, there are a few pilots in applications in our industry related to hard reach or remote locations; precise handling of equipment; handling of dangerous goods; working in hazardous area, but we still see that there are currently limited and as technology evolves we would possibly see large scale applications. As is evident with the proliferation of robotics applications from automotive industry to many other applications in varied industrial applications; the future for robotic solutions in chemical industry is limited by our thoughts and imagination.

In such a scenario, ABB can be a strong partner for organizations that are looking to grow their automation portfolio. We provide Automation, Instrumentation and Electrical & Telecom solutions for the complete value chain in the Chemical, Oil & Gas sectors.

Challenges faced while implementing automation for the chemical industry.

Understanding chemical processes are fundamental to implementing solutions. Safety and process complexity associated with this industry are very different obviously as compared to others, and stakes are very high. Quality & Safety are the prime drivers of what we do in this sector. The standards of quality and variables to consider are most critical. Engineering solutions in this domain take tremendous experience and domain knowledge – not just product & technical knowledge.

© Chemical Today Magazine


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