Invensys Process Systems User Group 2006, Dallas

Around 850 attended the Invensys Process Systems User Group in Dallas last month. Invensys has a very large scope—from ‘discrete’ manufacturing through process engineering, refining to the upstream. We report on the growth of process modeling and simulation, the new InFusion decision support system, the closing gap between process, ERP and MRO systems and the rise of wireless. A presentation on Shell Nigeria’s $3.6 billion Bonga development shows how the operator training simulator’s role is expanding to project design checkout QC. Targa Resources reported on what is believed to be the first oil country deployment of SmartSignal—a data mining-based alarm system developed by the University of Chicago in the wake of the Three Mile Island incident. TransCanada pipeline shows how Avantis’ ‘management operating system’ is driving process improvement.

Chris Lynden and Don Clark offered an introduction to the process control business. In the 1960s, a typical refinery had perhaps 5,000 control points and a ratio of outputs per point of between 1 and 1.5. Today, a refinery may have 150,000 points and 25 outputs per point. Refining has become an ‘I/O-centric’ business where price per control point is critical.

Process not manufacturing!

Describing SimSci’s Process Engineering Suite, Tobias Scheele noted that the global process industry is worth around $6 trillion and involves some of the most sophisticated plants in world. Process is different to ‘discrete’ manufacturing (like automobile) and deploys a different set of technologies. ‘If you can’t model it, you won’t understand your process, you won’t be able to improve it and you wont be able to compete.’ Models predict performance and underpin decisions. Invensys flagship SIM4ME spans operator training simulators, front end engineering design and operations.

Haverly Systems

Nancy Delhommer (Haverly Systems) noted that many models tend to ‘sit there gathering dust’ because changing stream data to new processes is so time consuming and error prone. A new PRO/II interface transfers crude assay data from H/CAMS (Haverly’s crude assay library) into PRO/II’s Excel libraries. Chevron and BP have huge libraries that can be licensed.


But big changes are on the way. Studies by the ISA predict a big shift to wireless connectivity and new technologies like control loop in the field. Invensys expects a proliferation of wireless instruments and a surge in applications. For instance a wireless human interface might, as an operator approaches a valve, push maintenance information or specifications to a mobile device. ERP vendors are also very interested in this space.

Shell Bonga

Invensys’ Greg McKim presented a paper on behalf of Shell describing Shell Nigeria’s Bonga training simulator (BTS). The BTS was used for controls checkout during engineering design as well as operator training. Today, the simulator lifecycle should equate to the plant lifecycle—OTS is about more than operator training. Everything beneath the control bus is emulated in a few PCs with DynSim plant process model and FSIM virtual controllers, allowing for ‘very accurate controls checkout.’ By testing in a dynamic environment it was possible to see how control systems work together and to train operators at the same time.

Virtual commissioning

AMEC was the EPC for the Bongo propjet with Invensys’ Foxboro unit the main automation supplier. The simulator models flow lines, subsea well heads and gas compression. The whole process—dubbed ‘virtual commissioning’—cost less than one day’s production. The system is being extended to include static design in PRO/II.


At the plenary session, acting IPS president Ken Brown made a bold claim for Invensys having ‘integrated its brands into a single company focused on asset performance management.’ Company finances are ‘strong’ and will allow for investment in R&D and in the new InFusion Enterprise Control System. Facilities that operate over a 20-30 year period present specific challenges such as legacy equipment and a ‘relentless pressure to improve performance.’ Brown noted that, ‘Users may only know IPS through just one of our constituent companies,’ the company is increasingly looking to ‘tie all the pieces of the puzzle together, while continuing to provide ‘best of breed’ solutions in the verticals.


IPS VP Peter Martin described how globalization ‘blindsided’ companies to plant issues as managers were too busy with mergers. A recent survey of plant management found ‘aging equipment and an aging workforce.’ ‘In the 1970s, the average age of field engineers was my age then. Today, the average age is still my age!’ It is hard to understand, let alone measure, the ROI of control systems. This means they are relegated to ‘costs,’ and costs get downsized. Lifecycle benefits are not currently measured.

Harvard Business School

Invensys’ real time accounting work with the Harvard Business School uses focus groups to try to answer questions like ‘Who measures the business?’ Invensys wants to bridge plant to finances with real time performance measurement, production management and real time accounting. This will leverage dashboards, scorecards and portals to provide feedback in real time to present validated financial KPIs to operators. Operators’ dashboards will show how the price of energy changes every hour. Plant ‘conflict’ is represented by contrasting attempts to maximize availability (maintenance) or to maximize utilization (operations). These are ‘inverse functions,’ they fight, especially if they are doing a good job! The idea is to perform asset management and process optimization together.

Decision support

Decision support gets more important as the number of points rises. Remote expertise will compensate for the ‘people problem.’ Data mining will emerge for purchasing and providing answers to questions like, ‘How many pumps in similar service have failed?’ ‘How is this catalyst performing?’ Clark described the current situation as a ‘nexus’ of technologies which are set to fulfill the simulation modeling vision. Pressure for interoperability means that Invensys and others are ‘highly invested’ in standards, the Internet, XML, Java and portals. Invensys’ flagship application InFusion offers an ‘enterprise perspective on performance’.


Marketing director Grant Le Sueur stated that InFusion has transitioned ‘from Power Point to reality.’ InFusion offers an enterprise view of a process, monitoring materials consumed and calculating production costs in near real time.
InFusion’s Historian ‘captures everything.’ Microsoft BizTalk is used to orchestrate business processes, conveying messages from the data Historian to business applications with ‘no programming involved.’ Invensys is offering solution starter templates, ‘Lego’ building bricks that capture and deploy manufacturing best practices across the enterprise. InFusion takes it inputs from PLC, SCADA systems and DCS, which may come from third party systems.

Wireless (again!)

According to Hesh Kagan, wireless is ‘ready for prime time.’ To overcome the problem of multi vendor wireless solutions, Invensys is leveraging Apprion’s middleware to normalize and secure wireless systems from virtually any vendors. The expectation is that at some future date standards like SP 100 will help, but ‘there will always be multiple protocols.’ Apprion’s infrastructure can integrate VoIP, WiFi, WiMax, copper and more. New applications are available with wireless like condition monitoring with cheap sensors—the foundation for model-based predictive performance monitoring. But first, you need security. The system is deployed as ‘ION,’ a wireless canopy over plants and facilities.

Energy Solutions

Energy Solutions president Alan Jacob stressed the importance of pipeline safety and integrity. The US Office of Pipeline Safety statistics for 2004 revealed 206 leaks and safety incidents resulting in $175 million damages. A 2005 report from National Transportation and Safety Board recommends training, including simulations for recognition of abnormal conditions, and the installation of computerized leak detection. Pipeline companies are working hard to reduce costs, replacing out of date SCADA systems and connecting operational data to ERP. Pipeline management software is migrating from legacy in house developed tools to ‘best of breed’ vendor solutions. TBG Brazil has deployed an internet-based pipeline management system leveraging Wonderware to integrate control room and commercial management. PetroChina is using artificial intelligence to predict gas load and pipeline usage growth.

Integrated Asset Management

Invensys’ upstream VP Shaughn Wright described the new ‘Integrated Asset Model Management’ system (IAMM) that integrates third party models along with Invensys’ own Upstream Optimization Suite. The IAMM now extends to production planning and optimization with third party tools like HySys and Olga. The idea is to be able to model and optimize ‘from reservoir sand face to wells, platforms, FPSO and on.’


An interface with Schlumberger’s ECLIPSE allows for automated input of production profiles that can be used as constraints on the rest of the system. Optimization is achieved by forward and backward simulations across wells and manifold constraints. Examples of IAMM deployment include Total Netherlands’ collaboration centers for 26 offshore platforms, Karachaganak Petroleum Operating’s ‘right-time’ production allocation and the ExxonMobil-PdVSA-Veba Cerro Negro project’s safety systems and integration.


Another deployment for Chevron deploys SCADA to link 500 remote platforms, unmanned wells and pipelines into the New Orleans central engineering facility. This involves a ‘multitude’ of local networks, PLC’s and PC’s. The IAMM solution here deploys the Wonderware InTouch MMI. Operating groups can now manage their own facilities while New Orleans staff can monitor the entire asset base.


Clay Nobel described how Targa Resources’ Chico shale gas plant in North Texas was able to leverage the installed base of a digital control room equipped with Wonderware, SCADA and Maximo. Invensys recommended operational improvements including dynamic performance measurement, SCADA and HMI cleanup, and bringing accounting EFR measurement into SCADA. SmartSignal was deployed for alarms. SmartSignal, developed by the Univerity of Chicago following the Three Mile Island incident, leverages ‘similarity-based modeling,’ a data mining technique that produces early warnings of anomalies and deviations. The SmartSignal compressor SCADA monitor generated a rate of return of 37%. This is believed to be the first use of SmartSystem in the oil patch.

TransCanada Corp.

Victor Dix-Cooper described use of Avantis’ ‘management operating system’ (MOS) on TransCanada’s 41,000 km pipeline network and electricity plants. Avantis provides management with planning, scheduling, implementation, reporting and evaluation. Costs, reliability and safety have been optimized by ‘running departments like a business.’ The system distinguished between ‘tool in hand time’ (when an operator is actually working on a project), non tool in hand time (other stuff) and ‘priority work’ in a ‘prioritization model.’ Results are analyzed with MOS scorecards in terms of compliance with objectives and how often folks are distracted by breaks in work. The method applies to all, from maintenance workers to head office. Webex is used to train folks in the use of Avantis MOS. This has ‘changed the way leaders and employees interact.’ There has been some reticence to use, but ‘opting out is not an option.’

This article has been taken from a 15 page illustrated report produced by The Data Room’s Technology Watch program. More information and sample reports from

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