One of the most noteworthy trends for the future of manufacturing is making customized products using intelligent manufacturing concepts. However, the complexity and long-term investments typical of the extraction and processing of raw materials has, until now, made flexible production in the process industries seem like a distant dream. But when Sedin Engineering, China’s largest technology supplier to the coal industry, needed to design a new crushed-coal pressurized gasification reactor for Henan Yima Coal, the company was not willing to settle for a standard model. Instead, it wanted to develop a factory harnessing intelligent manufacturing principles to improve efficiency, reduce pollution, and drive costs down.
King of coal
Is it possible to digitalize raw materials manufacturing? Sedin Engineering was determined to answer this question as it created a blueprint for the future of China’s coal industry.
Most advanced in the world
Sedin partnered with Siemens to develop an ambitious “Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operation” solution. Siemens supplied its Comos engineering software along with the Walkinside virtual-reality platform, the Simatic PCS 7 control system, Simit process simulation system, and the XHQ operation intelligent software to help create the world’s most comprehensive and advanced system for the process industry. With Comos, Sedin was able to fully integrate the engineering processes, resulting in an end-to-end factory design. The level of detail and amount of data Comos provided allowed Sedin to increase design efficiency by 20%. Moreover, the engineers were also able to use the design data directly for engineering the corresponding process control solution, eliminating the time-consuming manual data handling that was previously needed. Bidirectional data exchange between Comos and PCS 7 helps ensure that design data and automation system always remain consistent. This integrated engineering approach helped reduce system configuration time by one-fourth.
The ability to create and work with a digital twin of the plant using Siemens products and solutions also facilitated commissioning. With Simit simulation software, the engineering team at Sedin was able to perform a virtual commissioning of the solution early on, thus reducing risks and streamlining installation and start-up. Simit also supports operator training as the system can be used for workshops before and during commissioning, ensuring operator acceptance and safe operation of the plant and systems. Additionally, the virtual-reality platform Comos Walkinside provides a 3D model of the plant for virtual operator training and virtual emergency drills. Integrating engineering and operation will also pay off in the longer term: Comos and Simatic PCS 7 have the ability to share information on plant design and status in a single database that will always reflect the as-is state of the plant, helping achieve a substantial improvement in maintenance efficiency.
Effectively supporting plant management
Last but not least, Sedin will soon be able to track the status of various gasifiers as well as monitor, analyze, and improve their performance – independent of their location. This ability is provided by the XHQ intelligent operation platform that aggregates data from many different sources and enables in-depth reviews and analyses based on a solid base of operational and business data, which in turn helps plant managers make informed decisions on how to optimize the gasification process. As a result, the general manager of Sedin, Zhang Qinggeng, is very pleased with the results of the project: “Our goal is to help our customers further increase engineering and operation efficiency, reduce operation costs, and improve product quality. Forging a strategic cooperation with Siemens is the first step we have taken toward achieving those objectives.”