Keywords: operator training simulator, phosphoric acid, dynamic simulation, process control, knowledge management.
Phosphoric acid production plants using wet processes have to deal with complicated equipment and a raw material (phosphate rock) that impacts upon a plant’s operability and process instability, such as through pipe plugging, scaling of instruments, sludge generated by post-precipitation, and in numerous potential equipment malfunctions. Consequently, frequent planned and unplanned shutdowns require cleaning and start-up cycles, which demand many human actions. These actions can consume very large amounts of time, especially when operators are inexperienced. The production team plays a key role in maximising plant performance and profitability, by minimising cycle times and rapidly identifying any process deviation or equipment malfunctions.
Their knowledge of the process is a key factor that can now be reinforced using a high-fidelity dynamic simulator. It uses chemical and physical first principles to predict how a process and its associated control will respond over time. It also integrates the practical knowledge of experienced operators and technology licensors that are only partially covered by first-principles (e.g. foaming effects, filter performances).
The simulator uses DCS graphics and field operator device schematics to allow trainees to perform the same tasks as in a real plant. Exercises simulating any procedures, such as a start-up, or any deviation, can be programmed. By performing these exercises, trainee operational skills are greatly enhanced, leading to better plant performance.
Alexandre Durand, Prayon Technologies SA, B 4480 Engis, Belgium
Sergio Joao, SNC-Lavalin Inc, 455 René-Lévesque Ouest, Montréal, Canada
18 pages, 7 figures, 2 tables, 3 references