Chemical Plant DCS Conversion Project

Due to reliability concerns regarding the aging existing Distributed Control System (DCS), this major chemical manufacturer decided to replace it with a new system. This project involved the complete replacement of an obsolete ABB System 6 and Fischer Porter DCS, as well as Rockwell Automation PLCs and Triconex safety systems for the chemical supply chain. The replacement was completed in stages as part of a larger multi-generational program over a multi-year timeframe. Conversions were performed one process at a time and required the coordination of five process outages. In the largest process area, more than 800 I/O points were converted “live” to avoid an outage. In total, 1,800 I/O points were converted across two control rooms and five nestrooms.

SSOE’s instrumentation and controls professionals provided engineering services from Frontend loading (FEL) through detailed design to convert the legacy DCS system to a new Siemens PC57 system. Our FEL work included electrical and instrumentation and controls scope definition, including supporting disciplines. The detailed design scope included engineering for new and modified instrumentation, electrical UPS system, grounding, power to new control panels, heat tracing, motor control interfacing, electrical raceways, instrumentation and network cabling, junction boxes, Smart Plant Instrumentation (SPI) drawings for wiring from field instruments through junction boxes and to DCS cabinet terminations, instrument location plans, design reviews, construction work packages, construction support, and as-builts.

Detailed, accurate construction packages were delivered on time and within budget, with engineering driven field changes equaling less than 5% of the total installed cost.

High Explosives Production Facility

Austin Powder Company realized the need in their industry for increased Energetic Material (EM) supply due to the dwindling supply of demilitarized materials available. As a result, the company decided build a new chemical facility for making virgin EM. After researching and selecting key technology partners, SSOE was chosen to provide engineering, architecture, and construction management services to integrate and implement the project.

This project involved a greenfield plant for the semi-continuous manufacture of Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate (PETN) within an existing production facility. This facility performs blending and packaging of explosives, but had no chemical synthesis capability. We worked with Austin Powder and industry experts to design a safe, efficient production facility with custom processing equipment and process modules for the processing and re-use of spent chemicals and wastes.

Our team was responsible for integrating specialty process equipment from three separate process technology vendors in three different countries. Key to this integration was coordination of process controls and utilities requirements across the major vendor packages, ensuring a smooth startup and allowing for safe shutdown and maintenance during weekends, holidays, and major process upsets.

SSOE’s design scope included an EM manufacturing and packaging building; site preparation, foundation, and interconnect for all vendor modules; chemical loading, offloading, and storage; fresh and spent process water treatment; utilities to support 24/7 operation without city water or sewer access and with minimal environmental impact; rail and tank truck access for multiple chemicals; safety reviews and environmental permitting.

Four Major Facility Expansion Projects

Reduction of engineering costs as a percentage of construction from 13% to 6%. Project savings of $53 million.

A chemical manufacturing client with whom SSOE had a 20+ year relationship, enlisted the firm for a series of projects to expand their facilities. Initial expansions involved capital investments of $50 million; subsequent expansions grew to over $2 billion in capital investment. SSOE provided front-end loading, detailed design, procurement, project controls, and start-up support for these projects that involved complex and highly proprietary chemical process expansions as well as facility additions.

Over four years and four projects, SSOE tracked the project’s engineering costs against the total installed cost. The firm’s goal was to drive cost out of the overall project, as well as to reduce the engineering costs on each subsequent project. Working together with the client, SSOE saved more than $53 million in overall costs and was able to drive down the engineering costs as a percentage of construction from 13% to 6%. One key factor in this dramatic reduction was SSOE’s ability to develop an intimacy with the client and commitment to learn the client’s process and use that knowledge to work more efficiently.

Process Upgrade to Offset Gas Release

Significant savings in total project cost. Fast track execution to minimize manufacturing downtime.

When this chemical client embarked on an EPA mandated upgrade at four of its manufacturing facilities, SSOE was enlisted to execute the industry-wide directive. The project required integration of a new agent into its insulation board processing systems, a formulation change intended to reduce emissions. SSOE’s extensive background in implementing process upgrade and modifications in the chemical industry proved integral to implementing the change. Putting multi-disciplined teams in place at each of the facilities, the firm ultimately helped the client save time and project costs had they conducted the upgrade internally, while simultaneously enhancing the existing process.

As part of the scope, a new extruder needed to be upgraded and a blowing agent reformulated to manufacture insulation board. Ozone depleting hydrocarbon was replaced with more environmentally compatible agents. As a result, the existing layout was revised and different raw material handling equipment was installed and integrated into areas where existing operations took place. SSOE managed material handling, chemical additions, instrument upgrades, electrical upgrades, and ensured the environmental process transition. To create efficient space for the process, SSOE designed building additions at two of the sites, retrofitting them into the existing buildings, and one transformer addition to support power requirements. The firm also handled procurement for three of the sites.

SSOE needed to consider several factors in its design plan, including integration of explosion proof electrical classified components (Class 1, Div. 1 components), as well as the correct classification for process instruments. Sensitive to the confidentiality of the transition to alternative agents, SSOE created a task force with key clients to ensure ongoing communication efforts regarding the scope of the process enhancement.

New Specialty Chemical Plant

By having a strong understanding of the client’s needs for their new plant, SSOE was able to eliminate over $12 million through value engineering and improved production throughout by 25% due to process innovations.

SSOE, the client’s engineering firm of choice, performed comprehensive services on this new specialty chemical plant that produces components of high-performance electronics. Based on SSOE’s impeccable past performance from both a technical and client service standpoint, the client engaged SSOE for civil, structural, architecture, project management, mechanical, chemical process, estimating, cost control, and procurement. The facility is comprised the following functions: administration, waste recycling, bulk storage, complex chemical production, and basic utilities.

SSOE’s modification of the client’s chemical process resulted in improved conversion efficiency. The percentage of recycled chemicals increased from 14% to 20% to reduce production costs. Through process innovations and refinements driven by SSOE, the client has been able to improve production throughput by 25%.

Fire, Data, and Security Systems for Facility Expansion

Negotiated with multiple vendors to reduce material and installation costs, saving the client over $700,000. Created design and installation standards which assured contractors and integrators installed all systems the same way. This greatly reduced cost overruns and maintained schedules.

Since 2004, SSOE has been providing this chemical manufacturer with design and start-up support for a series of complex facility expansions. SSOE’s Data / Fire / Security team provided complete design of telecommunications, LAN, WAN, MAN security, access control, CCTV, fire alarm, sound, paging, and mass notification systems as well as an extensive fiber optic network. This network, which consists of thousands of strands of single and multi-mode fiber and required installation of more than 30 miles of fiber, serves the client’s telecommunications, data, and process communications needs. The design also included an automated CCTV premier detection and alarm system.

SSOE provided the complete design for Tier 3 and Tier 4 data centers. Each tier has attached state-of-the-art control, which monitors all of the key operation processes. The primary control building space is comprised of several server rooms, offices, and a large operator room that houses a 16-foot by 80-foot video wall and 20 high-end operator stations, each equipped with six, 30-inch LCD screens. The facility is equipped with several methods of redundant cooling, communications, and power feeds.

SSOE also designed a 9ll quality, two-way radio system with multiple redundant repeaters that exceed 911 and interoperability requirments.

SSOE engineers provided on-site construction support and supervised the entire installation of the system and commissioned its operations. The entire project came in under budget and ahead of schedule.

SSOE ordered all equipment on behalf of the client and negotiated bulk discounts. The team’s deep understanding of the client’s facility and processes earned the firm “preferred engineering partner” status. It also resulted in SSOE being hired to provide similar services for the client’s new facility in southeast USA.

Chemical Facility Energy Assessment

SSOE made more than 30 recommendations to reduce energy use, equaling a combined total annnual savings of more than $2 million.

For more than 20 years, SSOE has been providing a leading chemical manufacturer with quality process and facility engineering. When the client wanted to examine ways to decrease the energy consumption at its U.S. manufacturing facilities, they called upon SSOE’s energy management expertise.

SSOE conducted a full-scale energy assessment of one of the client’s largest production facilities. The goal of the assessment was to generate energy saving opportunities based on industry best practices, with paybacks of fewer than five years. The client also wanted to use the results from the assessment as a benchmark for its other U.S. plants.

As part of the assessment, SSOE interviewed plant personnel, collected utility and equipment information, and conducted field observations. The team examined all major sources of energy generation and use. SSOE assessed system performance, condition, and operational maintenance practices.

A unique challenge of the project was that all field observations had to be complete before a scheduled plant shutdown, leaving SSOE with a short amount of time to examine the 150 acre facility. SSOE moved quickly and worked closely with the client to meet this aggressive schedule. The field work, assessment, and report generation were completed in less than six weeks.

SSOE’s final deliverable was a detailed report consisting of more than 30 energy saving opportunities, along with their estimated cost and payback. This report was reviewed with Corporate Energy Management for concurrence.

Nitrogen Fertilizer Production Facility

The Nutrien facility in Lima, Ohio was under staffed and looking for a project manager to step in and take over several projects to meet their department goals. PCS enlisted the help of SSOE to develop and execute a number of projects during their busy construction season. The work was intended to be temporary but the contract was repeatedly extended because of the client’s satisfaction with SSOE’s delivered results.

SSOE was initially responsible for two projects. The first was to install two chemical truck loading scales and the relocation of eight chemical lines. The replacement of the scales was safety driven, due to significant corrosion of the scale pits, lack of adequate fall protection, and inadequate process controls. SSOE oversaw the consulting firm that developed a FEL 1 grade estimate. In order to find the best solution, the SSOE team created an electronic 3D model of the scale site to be able to foresee any maneuverability issues the trucks might have. SSOE was able to adjust plans early in the process to produce optimal results. SSOE specified piping material, determined tie points, specified scale size and location, reconfigured truck routing, and developed the AFE grade estimate for this portion of the project.

The second project consisted of installing an ammonia suppression system. This entailed designing a system to knock down ammonia vapors with water in the event of a leak. SSOE determined spray location, specified piping spray nozzle material, sized lines and spray nozzles, developed bid packages, and managed electrical power design, process control design, and construction activities.

After proving performance on the first two jobs, SSOE was hired to complete multiple maintenance projects. Vibration issues and discontinued replacement parts led to the need for replacement of an induced draft fan turbine. SSOE oversaw the civil design firm, developed the scope of work and bid packages, and developed a schedule for minimum down time. Another project consisted of the installation of a heat exchanger. The previous unit was overheating and was producing calcium, so a new unit was installed upstream of an existing intercooler which lowered the air temperature and prevent fouling. The most recent assignment was to replace the scale house building since the previous building was small and in toxic and blast zones. SSOE designed the building size, layout, and location, specified blast and toxic requirements oversaw the electrical and controls upgrade, and developed estimate and AFE.