The ability to observe and monitor the behaviour of processes in the process industries is crucial. To do this, it is necessary to combine digital twins driven by domain models with models derived from data. For this to happen though, a real-time processing layer is needed. FACTLOG is creating such a layer as its main objective, and Stavros Lounis of Athens University of Economics and Business gave a fascinating insight into how this is being tested in an oil refinery.
The FACTLOG project is developing the concept of a cognitive factory as an ensemble of independent but connected enhanced cognitive twins (ECTs), that can self-learn, effectively detect and react to anomalies and disruptions, enjoy a local and global view of operations, and are capable of reasoning for optimisation. By connecting various digital twins with different optimisation approaches, it enhances the overall cognition capabilities.
In an oil refinery, crude oil comes into large debutanisers, then flows through pipes to deethanisers, and eventually the refined product ends up in a final LPG (liquid petroleum gas) tank. Faults or changes in different parts of the process can lead to different levels of quality at the end. To help return the process to an optimal state, factors such as temperatures and pressures can be fine-tuned. At any given time, the FACTLOG system is looking to identifying non optimal production and work out how to return it to optimal production using the controls available to it.
The cognitive digital twins monitor the production processes, with all product performance indicators based on energy consumption and productivity. They then capture and predict events or anomalies based on product qualities and energy consumption, and quantify the impact of those events on the current plan, providing a time dependent estimation of the impact of the event on product tanks and pattern of anomalies. Finally, they provide alternatives for handling the events and evaluate these alternatives, making recommendations to alleviate this impact on the final or intermediate production tanks, globally optimising processes to improve energy efficiency and productivity.