Emerson completes digital automation, improves operation of polystyrene plant in Argentina


Petrobras' staff uses increased information to improve decision-making.
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Reactor at Petrobras Zarate plant.
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Grace Capwell
Emerson Automation Solutions
+1 (512) 834-7214

Petrobras Zarate facility boosts production by 3 to 5 percent and cuts maintenance budget by 10 to 12 percent through multi-year PlantWeb® modernization

Austin, Texas (April 16, 2008) – Emerson Process Management today announced production gains and reduced plant downtime through a multi-year digital automation project at Petrobras Zarate, a polystyrene manufacturing facility 80 kilometers north of Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Through the modernization, production rose by 3 to 5 percent — to 66,000 tons per year. The plant's availability is now 99 percent and product reliability is up by 2 to 3 percent.

The plant, which produces high impact, general purpose crystal and bioriented sheet polystyrene, is part of Petrobras Energia, an integrated energy company in Buenos Aires. Polystyrene is a lightweight plastic used to make items such as disposable food containers and cutlery, footwear, school materials, and parts used in refrigerators, air conditioners and vacuum cleaners.

As Petrobras Zarate's process automation supplier, Emerson provided consulting, staff training, and installation of its PlantWeb® digital architecture, AMS® Suite asset management software, and DeltaV™ automation system. The project modernized the plant's high impact and crystal polystyrene facilities, including the water, steam and air utilities and the reactor operations. 

Polystyrene production at Petrobras Zarate had been limited by a 1980s-era distributed control system. "We needed modernization to place the plant in the vanguard of technology and ensure it could respond to the needs of the market," said Roberto Gorbaran, instrumentation supervisor at Petrobras. 

Plant managers had several goals in mind when they decided to partner with Emerson for the technology upgrade. "We discussed a migration strategy towards a control system that could give us greater reliability, would fall within our budget, would comply with medium- and long-term strategy and satisfy management and the business," said Adolfo Suiffet, maintenance manager at Petrobras Zarate. 

The transformation to digital was implemented in stages between 2002 and 2005. Petrobras Zarate saved $1.13 million in 2005 when, with Emerson's assistance and aided by its digital valve and instrument technology, plant personnel completed the final hot cutover of operations control to the DeltaV system without stopping production. Annual plant stoppages have been reduced by half, to once every two years, because plant staff can now make decisions based on more reliable data about their operations. 

"Thanks to being able to intervene at the right moment, with the right diagnosis, maintenance costs have been cut. In the last two years we've been running 10 to 12 percent under budget," said Suiffet.

"The accomplishments of the Petrobras team are highly valuable to the plant and a great example of the results possible through engineering expertise and technology," said Leo Rodriguez, president of Emerson Latin America.  "Through their innovation, the plant team assisted by Emerson has used PlantWeb digital technology for operational excellence and manufacturing success."

The Petrobras Zarate plant uses FOUNDATION fieldbus communications to network Emerson's DeltaV digital systems, Rosemount® flow, level and temperature instruments, Micro Motion® Coriolis flowmeters and Fisher® valves with Fisher FIELDVUE® digital valve controllers. 

Advanced control tools increase production quality and capacity. For example, application of neural network software in the DeltaV system made quality prediction in the reactors more effective, and Petrobras Zarate was able to up rates for certain products in the plant. Predictive diagnostics from AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager deliver information to operations and maintenance personnel for fast decisions on field devices. The plant has also added mobility enabled by a wireless network that allows them to perform asset maintenance in the field since personnel can use their laptops to access operational and diagnostic data through remote DeltaV desktop and AMS Suite applications.  

PlantWeb architecture is an open, standards-based digital automation solution that networks intelligent field devices, digital systems, and software to control processes and manage equipment and other assets. It delivers information for facilities management, including predictive alerts of pending malfunctions and guidance for corrective action to avoid production interruptions and shut downs.

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About Emerson
Emerson (NYSE: EMR), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global technology and engineering company providing innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial, and residential markets. Our Emerson Automation Solutions business helps process, hybrid, and discrete manufacturers maximize production, protect personnel and the environment while optimizing their energy and operating costs. Our Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions business helps ensure human comfort and health, protect food quality and safety, advance energy efficiency, and create sustainable infrastructure. For more information visit Emerson.com.

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