Successfully Automating Terminal Operations

July/August 2014 Tank Storage magazine

July/August 2014 Tank Storage magazine

Making an operational step change in a production process involves a clear vision and people, processes and tools to execute the vision. A July/August 2014 Tank Storage magazine article, Automating terminal operations, highlights the story of Vopak transforming their operations from remote manual to fully integrated.

Emerson’s Cor Vermeijs and Chris Amstutz collaborated with Vopak’s Louis Janssen and Peter Owen to tell the story. They open:

Vopak, like any terminal, stores, manages and handles multiple products owned by multiple customers. Physical terminal processes encompass (un)loading of trucks, barges, ships and trains, terminal internal transports and stock keeping. These physical processes must be conducted in compliance with a customer’s requirements and according to planning that takes into account tight administrative processes such as pipeline administration, stock management, and scheduling.

The authors describe three modes of operation (remote) manual, automated, and integrated. In (remote) manual mode, operators make manipulations remotely from a central control room. In automated mode, the loops are closed and managed by the control system. In an integrated mode of operation:

The physical and administrative processes are tightly coupled, and information flows automatically between customers and operations in the field.

A transition to the integrated operational mode minimises the process integrity risks and further improves the overall operational efficiency.

In setting their vision for integrated operations, Vopak followed the ISA-95 (S95) model with its four layers—1) field equipment, 2) process control systems (PCS), 3) manufacturing execution systems (MES)/terminal management systems (TMS), and 4) enterprise resource planning (ERP). By taking this split architecture approach for each layer, Vopak could apply specific strategies at each layer including sourcing, standardized workflows, and administrative processes.

Syncade Terminal Logistics

Syncade Terminal Logistics

Pilot projects were identified to execute the strategies and the first marine terminal went live in 2011. Short listing was done in parallel to narrow the supplier list for levels 2 and 3. The DeltaV distributed control system (level 2 PCS) and Syncade Suite (level 3 TMS). The solution proven out during the pilot was made into a standard off-the-shelf product for terminal logistics.

The authors describe the benefits of this standard product approach:

In the yearly business planning cycle Emerson and Vopak are able to synchronise the budget forecasts without the need for engineering, based on the library and related cost structure. Terminal projects are now heavily standardised, starting with a gap analysis that compares the as-is state to the To-Be Vopak standard state.

They describe some of the gains seen in efficiency improvements, operational robustness, process integrity, project implementation repeatability, and key performance indicator (KPI)-based management. The authors conclude:

For truck handling, automation of the physical process and integration with the administrative process enabled a driver-operated loading concept. Involving the carrier company in the truck handling process led to higher efficiencies and less complaints under safe conditions.

If you’ll be joining us at the October 6-10 Emerson Exchange in Orlando, Florida USA, look for a workshop in which Chris will be participating, 3-1924 – Truck and Rail Logistics Solution Benefits Corporate Marketing.

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