Islands in the Sun

May 24, 2005
From oil drilling operations disguised as resort islands to a protein food supplier that linked operations and business islands, applications at the recent Siemens user conference focused on common themes.

Siemens AG, the Munich-based global supplier of automation, communication and transportation solutions, believes its application footprint spans every conceivable end-user industry. Nowhere was that more apparent than at the recent Siemens Energy & Automation Seventh Annual Process Automation User Conference and first-ever Simatic IT Summit, held in Tampa, Fla., May 4-6.

Headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., Siemens E&A comprises the U.S.-based businesses for Siemens Automation & Drives solutions, including programmable logic controllers (PLCs), communications, process automation solutions, safety systems and manufacturing execution system (MES) solutions. The Florida conference gathered users, partners, analysts and Siemens employees specifically focused on the process automation, safety and MES application areas.

Two of the application presentations at the conference highlighted common themes users face in making critical choices for automation and infrastructure solutions. Whether drilling for oil or processing chicken, users are concerned with streamlining and standardizing data flow, increasing reliability, decreasing obsolescence, providing a clear migration path, and choosing solutions that prove beneficial to the bottom-line through reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) and improved return on investment (ROI).

Offshore oil islands

Creating a beautiful island setting and an environmental-friendly ecosystem for profitable offshore oil recovery was the goal when THUMS went into operation in California in the 1960s. Dusko Dimovski, automation electrical engineer for THUMS Long Beach Co., discussed how the recent implementation of what is said to be one of the largest U.S. installations of a Siemens PCS 7 system helps THUMS succeed in its diverse goals.

THUMS comprises a group of man-made islands off the coast of Long Beach, Calif. The acronym THUMS—for Texaco, Humble, Union, Mobil and Shell—represents the five companies that originally owned the islands when they were first constructed.

The company is now a fully owned subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corp., based in Los Angeles. According to Occidental, the entire operation was built to resemble resort islands that blend in with the surrounding coastal environment, and is a model for how technology can be used to mitigate the impact of oil operations on sensitive environments. Cumulative production has surpassed 900 million barrels of oil drilled from more than 1,200 wells.

The original instruments and controls for the operation were a hodgepodge of pneumatic transmitters and controllers, outdated alarm panels and almost 150 PLCs, representing more than 20 models and vendors, many obsolete. There were more than 800 well controllers of four different types, with no automatic system for data collection and monitoring.

Goals in selecting a new automation system included improved data collection, better diagnostics and alarm management, increased reliability and maintainability and a long-term supplier commitment to mitigate obsolescence issues.

Redundant servers and a self-healing Ethernet fiber-optic ring are at the heart of the new network architecture. The Siemens PCS 7 process automation system, coupled with new and existing field inputs/outputs (I/Os), works with standard and custom software tools to automate data collection and well testing.

Among the many system benefits, according to Dimovski, are “easier plant operations, improved maintainability and accountability, and reduced production losses.” Since January of this year, the first year of full system implementation, THUMS has experienced zero shutdowns due to operational issues.

Cut the (chicken) fat

At Tyson Foods Inc., a $26.4 billion supplier of protein-based foods, the challenge was how to integrate hundreds of unique systems and processes, as the result of multiple acquisitions. Tyson, based in Springdale, Ark., acquired IBP, Inc. in 2001, creating the world’s largest provider of chicken, beef and pork.

Chad Couch, vice president of manufacturing systems at Tyson, discussed how Tyson put in place “Project Won,” and subsequently created a vision for an integrated enterprise that included the plant floor. A pilot project was run under the “Project Won” umbrella to focus on the connection of the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system from SAP AG, based in Walldorf, Germany, to operations and manufacturing systems.

The initial phase included a study to build the business case for integration of the ERP with MES software. The project team, which included two consulting firms—one for operations and one for MES—developed 19 value stream flows with 539 live traceable documents. Posting the paper trail resulted in nearly 1,000 feet of paper, representing information from just one shift of one product.

The pilot study showed significant benefits in streamlining, automating and integrating processes, ultimately recommending the implementation of the Siemens Simatic IT MES solution to bridge to the SAP ERP.

Why Simatic IT? According to Couch, bringing together the Siemens and SAP solutions combined two visionary leaders on a platform that implemented the ISA-95 enterprise integration standard, promulgated by the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society. As well, both systems support a standard application architecture across the entire enterprise.

Couch anticipates payback of the solution to reach millions of dollars for Tyson, but stresses the cultural changes involved in order to succeed. “You must convince your key people and have a major internal stakeholder.”