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News Releases

2008




Software Quickly Pinpoints Plant Interactions

December 2008

ExperTune's PlantTriage software includes a new tool that graphically highlights plant interactions. Using the new "Interaction Hot Spots", engineers can quickly pinpoint the root cause of process interactions. Engineers can resolve these upsets to improve quality, energy, production rate, and process uptime.

The browser-based "Interaction Hot Spots" tool is now included with PlantTriage, control loop monitor. PlantTriage monitors all plant control loops and instruments in real-time. Interactions between control loops appear as colored blocks on the Interaction Hot Spots display. Stronger interactions are indicated by stronger colors. Following PlantTriage's intuitive color scheme, green indicates no interaction, yellow indicates some interaction, and red indicates strong interaction. On a single web page, users can see all of the significant interactions in the entire plant.

As impressive as it is to have a complete picture of interactions, pinpointing the interactions is just the starting point. The Hot Spots display is interactive. Using a slider, users can filter the display to show only the most significant interactions. Simple drop-down menus allow the user to narrow the scope of an effort, and focus, for example, on just a few unit operations.

John Gerry, President of ExperTune says, "Many plants have huge real-time databases, but they haven't been getting the value from them. Now we have the software and computing power to extract meaningful information, and present it in simple, graphical displays. Leveraging this information, engineers can solve problems in minutes, rather than weeks."

Users can click on a graphical hot spot to start a detailed investigation. This launches a context-sensitive drill-down into the relevant data from the interacting loops. This includes display of real-time process variable trends and a process interaction map. Using this information, users can establish the root cause of interaction problems in a matter of minutes.

There are many uses for the Interaction Hot Spots. George Buckbee, Vice President of Product Development at ExperTune says: "Advanced control projects get a boost from the Interaction Hot Spots because it can quickly identify the appropriate scope of the APC project. When coupled with PlantTriage's ability to get the existing regulatory loops under control, this is a very powerful combination."

PlantTriage users are already reporting successes from using interaction tools. One plant in Alabama is now saving over $1 million per year, after solving an interaction problem that started in the utilities area. Buckbee adds, "These tools are showing us that many process problems start upstream. By resolving interactions at the source, engineers are leveraging their capabilities like never before."

The Interaction Hot Spots tool is available as a standard feature in PlantTriage.

About PlantTriage and ExperTune
For 22 years, ExperTune has created award-winning optimization software that runs in thousands of plants world-wide. ExperTune's PlantTriage®, Control Loop Monitor, oversees the optimization of an entire plant. PlantTriage® optimizes the entire process, including equipment, operations, and controls. The PlantTriage suite of optimization tools are designed to increase the efficiency of processes. The tools include swing or oscillation detection and elimination, interaction analysis, modeling, robustness, linearization, valve wear analysis, pH linearization, time series analysis, MPC performance improvement, 6-sigma, frequency response, and PID tuning tools. ExperTune is a member of the OPC Foundation. For more information, set your browser to www.expertune.com.




The Six Most Common PID Configuration Errors

October 2008

A whitepaper from ExperTune, "The Six Most Common PID Configuration Errors: How to Find and Fix Them", can be downloaded at no-charge from: www.expertune.com/PIDconfig.aspx

The PID Control Loop is one of the fundamental workhorses of the process industries. Day in and day out, millions of PID loops strive to keep processes safe, stable, and profitable. But there is a "secret", known only to control engineers and technicians.

Many of these control loops are not properly configured, and the consequences could be devastating. A newly published white paper from ExperTune identifies the most common PID configuration issues, and provides techniques to help plant-based personnel find and fix these issues.

George Buckbee of ExperTune says: "I have worked on thousands of control loops over the past 20 years. Most DCS systems require you to configure over 50 parameters for each PID Loop. It is very easy to make costly mistakes in the configuration, unless you know how to avoid these errors.

Surprisingly, as many as 75% of control loops actually increase variability. Many control loops simply do not do their job. Setpoints are not followed, valves swing around, creating oscillations, and many loops are disabled by the operator: placed in MANUAL mode.

Studies of control loops in the process industries give some insight into the root cause of these issues. For example:

  • 30% of DCS Control Loops Improperly Configured
  • 85% of Control Loops Have Sub-Optimal Tuning
  • 15% of Control Valves are Improperly Sized

The whitepaper identifies the most common errors, and gives solutions for correcting or avoiding them.

About ExperTune
For 22 years, ExperTune has created award-winning optimization software that runs in thousands of plants world-wide. ExperTune's PlantTriage® Performance Supervision Software oversees the optimization of an entire plant. PlantTriage optimizes the entire process, including equipment, operations, and controls. The PlantTriage suite of optimization tools are designed to increase the efficiency of processes. The tools include swing or oscillation detection and elimination, interaction analysis, modeling, robustness, linearization, valve wear analysis, pH linearization, time series analysis, MPC performance improvement, 6-sigma, frequency response, and PID tuning tools. ExperTune is a member of the OPC Foundation. For more information, set your browser to www.planttriage.com.




Training Establishes the Benefits of Automation

August 2008

A new training course helps engineers to show the bottom-line results of their efforts. The training shows engineers how to find improvement opportunities, how to capture them, and how to clearly document the financial results. Plant management, in turn, can make better business decisions regarding automation when armed with this information.

Kevin Gibbs, CEO of ExperTune, says "Engineers often fail to meet management’s expectation to document financial results. This training helps plant-level engineers to succeed in delivering and documenting results in terms that their managers will understand."

The training course is titled "Benefits of Automation". It covers both the technical aspects and the real-world realities of the modern process plant environment. Students will learn to:

  • Measure performance in economic terms
  • Establish the link between control systems performance and business performance
  • Use specific techniques to:
    • Improve Quality
    • Reduce Energy Usage
    • Increase Production Rate
    • Reduce Maintenance Costs
  • Document and Communicate Results to Management.

John Gerry, President and Founder of ExperTune says, "Over the past 20 years, our clients have saved hundreds of millions of dollars using these techniques. Plant management is the ultimate customer of these results, and this training will help to ensure that management gets a clear and accurate picture of the value received from plant controls engineers."

Using real-world examples and hands-on exercises, students will practice using these skills to demonstrate value. The course is recommended for process plant controls engineers and managers who need to find and demonstrate business improvements. The 2-day "Benefits of Automation" training will be offered at several locations this year. For more information on this training, including specific dates and venues, visit www.expertune.com/ClassOptReg.aspx.

About ExperTune's PlantTriage®

For 20 years, ExperTune has created award-winning optimization software that runs in thousands of plants world-wide. PlantTriage® Performance Supervision Software oversees the optimization of an entire plant. PlantTriage® optimizes the entire process, including equipment, operations, and controls. Diagnostics and recommendations are based upon economic value and sophisticated technical evaluation. For more information, visit www.PlantTriage.com.




Oversee Production with a Glance

May 2008

A large treemap display in the control room shows the performance of thousands of assets with one glance. Opportunities for improvement pop out as bright red areas in the map. This display, which is updated with live information from the plant control system, allows everyone in the plant to be focused on the same goals.

PlantTriage treemaps show all control system assets spaced on one screen. Each asset is represented by both size and color of a rectangle. The larger the size, the more important the asset. The brighter the color, the more opportunity there is to make improvements. For example, a large, bright red block represents a major opportunity for improvement.

John Gerry, President of ExperTune says: "Treemaps clearly show the health of the entire control system with a single glance. Treemaps in the control room focus everyone on the same goals, making it clear to all, where the greatest opportunities are."

PlantTriage treemaps come up in a browser window and are a standard part of the performance monitoring tools available in PlantTriage. Using treemaps, technicians can drill down by clicking on the bright spots. The drill-down produces detailed diagnostics of specific problems with instruments, valves, and controls.

Mr. Gerry adds, "In today's plants, everybody needs to be more efficient when managing assets. Treemaps help to drive efficiency by focusing attention quickly on the biggest opportunities."

About ExperTune's PlantTriage
For 22 years, ExperTune has created award-winning optimization software that runs in thousands of plants world-wide. PlantTriage® Performance Supervision Software oversees the optimization of an entire plant. The PlantTriage suite of optimization tools are designed to increase the efficiency of processes. The tools include swing or oscillation detection and elimination, interaction analysis, modeling, robustness, linearization, valve wear analysis, pH linearization, time series analysis, MPC performance improvement, 6-sigma, frequency response, and PID tuning tools. ExperTune is a member of the OPC Foundation. For more information, set your browser to www.planttriage.com.




Benchmarking Process Operations in Real Time

April 2008

ProcessApex software now benchmarks and tracks the business results of fired heaters, heat exchangers, and dryers.  Use the results to make decisions that directly impact efficiency, throughput, operating targets, and bottom line of operations.

For fired heaters, ProcessApex benchmarks and tracks efficiency, excess oxygen, and potential fuel savings.  ProcessApex can help to manage excess oxygen, reducing the excess air flow, and delivering higher thermal efficiencies.

For heat exchangers, ProcessApex identifies bottlenecks and pinpoints opportunities by tracking heat duty, heat transfer coefficients and approach temperatures.  ProcessApex benchmarks operation between similar heat exchangers, and identifies excess capacity, so users can optimize the big picture, not just a single heat exchanger.

On dryers, ProcessApex tracks dryer efficiency, percent excess capacity, and energy usage/ton. Diagnostics include recommendations of targets, identification of limitations, and methods for improvement.  The benchmarking tools help to drive each dryer toward the best proven performance levels.

George Buckbee, VP of Product Development at ExperTune, says: "ProcessApex is the next-generation interface to true process understanding.  Unlike older-generation tools, ProcessApex does not require an engineer to spend a lot of time developing specific equations.  The equations, models, and tools are built-in to ProcessApex."  Every unit operation in ProcessApex was designed with the expert assistance and knowledge of Greg Shinskey.

ProcessApex runs on a server so all the results are available to employees on the corporate office LAN via a browser interface.  No special client software is required.  Through tight integration with PlantTriage, detailed drill-down analysis can be accomplished directly from the web browser.

About ProcessApex
ProcessApex benchmarks and tracks the business results of process unit operations. ProcessApex automatically determines high-level measures, like efficiencies, yields, and quality information.  The KPIs generated allow decisions to be made that will impact efficiency, yields, operational targets, and bottom line operations.  ProcessApex gathers real-time data directly from control system.  It then develops performance metrics and provides real-time advice for unit operations.




PlantTriage Incorporates Newly-Patented Wizard Builder Technology

April 2008

ExperTune has received a patent for its novel wizard builder technology. The patent was issued April 8, 2008. The wizard builder creates connection wizards for communication between process controllers (DCSs and PLCs) and PC based software. In a way, it is a "wizard that builds wizards." PlantTriage performance supervision software uses this wizard technology.

To analyze an entire plant, you must first connect to hundreds of data sources in the plant control system. John Gerry, President of ExperTune says, "PlantTriage makes this easy by using a smart wizard-based bulk import. After you configure just a single control loop, the patented wizard builder uses its intelligence about specific control systems to automatically poll the control system for the data it needs. The wizard builder reduces configuration time by up to 90%, and practically eliminates address configuration errors."

The result is that PlantTriage automatically imports exactly the right information from the control system database. It then reads as much information as possible directly from the process control computer, DCS or PLC. For complete flexibility, the user can direct PlantTriage to use addresses from an Excel spreadsheet. Once setup, PlantTriage monitors and assesses every control loop in the plant, assuring optimal plant operation. The Wizard Builder technology is available now, in the PlantTriage Performance Supervision System.

About ExperTune's PlantTriage
For 22 years, ExperTune has created award-winning optimization software that runs in thousands of plants world-wide. PlantTriage® Performance Supervision Software oversees the optimization of an entire plant. PlantTriage® optimizes the entire process, including equipment, operations, and controls. The PlantTriage suite of optimization tools are designed to increase the efficiency of processes. The tools include swing or oscillation detection and elimination, interaction analysis, modeling, robustness, linearization, valve wear analysis, pH linearization, time series analysis, MPC performance improvement, 6-sigma, frequency response, and PID tuning tools. ExperTune is a member of the OPC Foundation. For more information, set your browser to www.planttriage.com.




PlantTriage Adds Graphical Modeling

February 2008

PlantTriage's new visual modeling tools result in better dynamic process models. Better models give better all-around analysis resulting in optimal PID Tuning, accurate simulated response to upsets, accurate response to process noise, and better robustness analysis.

The new drag-and-drop modeling puts the engineer in control of the model fit. Using any bump test data, drag the model curve to match the actual response curve. Instantly, PlantTriage finds a dynamic process model that reflects the visually designed response. PlantTriage uses this model to give optimal PID values, simulate responses to upsets and noise.

Drag-and-drop modeling is fully compatible with PlantTriage's Active Model Capture Technology. With Active Model Capture, operator setpoint moves are automatically captured and modeled. The resulting model can then be fine-tuned using the drag-and-drop features.

John Gerry, President of ExperTune says, "The end results of these visual modeling tools are optimal plant operations. This ultimately boosts efficiency and production while reducing waste and energy usage."

Download Graphical Modeling image.

About ExperTune's PlantTriage
For 22 years, ExperTune has created award-winning optimization software that runs in thousands of plants world-wide. PlantTriage® Performance Supervision Software oversees the optimization of an entire plant. PlantTriage® optimizes the entire process, including equipment, operations, and controls. The PlantTriage suite of optimization tools are designed to increase the efficiency of processes. The tools include swing or oscillation detection and elimination, interaction analysis, modeling, robustness, linearization, valve wear analysis, pH linearization, time series analysis, MPC performance improvement, 6-sigma, frequency response, and PID tuning tools. ExperTune is a member of the OPC Foundation. For more information, set your browser to www.planttriage.com.




ExperTune and TiPS Announce User's Conference

January 2008

ExperTune and TiPS have announced their 2008 User's Conference, themed "Common Sense Automation". The conference will be held April 23–25, in Houston, Texas, and offers training, case studies, and roundtables, including a host of notable speakers. The conference will focus on delivering actionable strategies to corporate and plant-based process control engineers, technicians, and managers.

George Buckbee, Director of Product Development at ExperTune, says "Most plants can achieve significant improvements without replacing their control system equipment. One of the best ways to get better performance is to make sure that existing equipment and controls perform up to their design expectations. The people at this conference are experts in simple, practical techniques used to improve control system performance."

ExperTune and TiPS share a common philosophy: "The best operations run on a foundation of excellent basic automation". The conference theme, "Common Sense Automation" emphasizes improvements that can come from a combination of practical knowledge and theory.

Bob Weibel, President of TiPS, Inc, says "Time and again, clients are surprised by the process, quality, and safety improvements that can come from simple, practical, common-sense techniques. We are excited to host this conference, bringing together world-class experts and clients from around the world."

The 3-day conference will be held at the Houston Intercontinental Hotel. Conference attendees will have a chance to try out these techniques in a hands-on classroom at the conference. Process control and alarm management experts will be on hand to discuss specific user applications.

For more information on the conference, visit www.expertune.com/UG2008.aspx

About ExperTune®
For 20 years, ExperTune has created award-winning optimization software that runs in thousands of plants world-wide. PlantTriage® Performance Supervision Software oversees the optimization of an entire plant. PlantTriage® optimizes the entire process, including equipment, operations, and controls. ExperTune's full suite of optimization tools is designed to increase the efficiency of processes. The company's analysis tools include interaction analysis, modeling, robustness, linearization, valve wear analysis, pH linearization, time series analysis, MPC performance improvement, 6-sigma, frequency analysis, and process modeling.

About TiPS Incorporated
TiPS Incorporated is celebrating 20 years of delivering cutting edge tools for maximizing the capabilities of operators and operations management. Our clients recognize the critical role of the operator in reaching business objectives. We help them improve operational performance through targeted enhancement of the operator environment. Until human intuition and processing power can be replicated, operators will remain the last line of defense against unplanned outages. TiPS will be there to provide the tools and expertise necessary to empower your operating team.



 

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