Tips for Increasing Chemical Plant Productivity

#Chemicals #Safety #Efficiency #Leadership

Rangnath Dubey

Any industrial plant’s better yield is directly proportional to its performance and the chemical industry plants are no exception. Mr. Rangnath Dubey, Sr. VP - BC Jindal Group and Ex President (Operations) at Gujarat Fluorochemicals Limited, shares with Pro MFG Media team the ways to increase the efficiency in the Indian chemical plants.

The chemical plants in India particularly need immense improvisation compared to the chemical plants overseas. The batch operation should be converted into a continuous operation by increasing the scale of operations and implementing automation for the manual operations. It is possible for the organization to improve plant efficiency by applying automation in the field of loading & unloading in the logistics segment.

Since the medium-scale chemical industry is not automated, it has led to a lot of variance as well as losses from the excellent devices. Apart from this, the inefficient operation results in losses, hence the introduction of advanced process control in the industry will be able to improve the situation. As every batch in the chemical plant incurs rejection, the losses in the chemical industry due to batch operations are massive. The implementation of automation or IoT technologies will be highly beneficial in reducing losses and improving efficiency.

Considering the recent alarming incidents of the process safety in the country, it is one of the most critical areas which requires enormous improvements. The lack of upkeep of the process equipment is causing numerous incidents. Hence, it is essential to focus on process safety in chemical plants. India stands at an interesting point and holds a huge advantage in the global market. The reduction in process safety incidents will attract huge investments, especially in the chemical and pharma industries.

Often an unclear roadmap for digital transformation may leave organizations in a dilemma for implementation of the IoT technologies. One of the significant hindrances in the implementation of IoT within the organization is due to lack of understanding about how to plan and prioritize segments for transformation. Even in the chemical industries, some plants operate continuously while some are batch operating. The industry can initiate the digitization process at the continuous plants as they can easily adapt the automation and process control. The industry can learn from the experience of refining industries where most of the plants are highly automated and have sophisticated process control, thus yields minimum losses. The advanced process controls can be easily implemented at the chemical plants such as chloromethane plants & propylene polypropylene plants as they are in continuous operation. The industries should swiftly optimize the batch operation plants, as automating the entire system is a huge risk, and the acceptability of the process will also be low. Although, the implementation at a single plant may help the team to accept the changes without a doubt.

Meanwhile, there is a scope of improvement during the planning phase of converting the batch operations into continuous operations. The organizations can plan to reduce the loss as every batch will incur a minimum cost of the startup and shutdown. During the first phase, the plant will produce optimistically, resulting in waste material. Furthermore, due to a lack of automation, it is challenging to set temperature pressure and competition for each batch. And one cannot defy human error as every batch operation will involve people intervention.

The chemical industry needs to initiate, create demand and develop the scale of operations because the larger the scale of operations, the larger the demand, which will help in converting batch operations into continuous operations. For a better future, modern technologies must be incorporated in plants for continuous operations, eventually improving the quality of the products in India.