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Lifecycle Dynamic Simulation with Mimic
By Martin Berutti
Product: Mimic Simulation

This white paper discusses the use of Mimic for Lifecycle Dynamic Simulation CapEx and OpEx business results.

The term Lifecycle Dynamic Simulator or Multi-Purpose Dynamic Simulator is commonly used to describe the use of dynamic simulation for Capital Project Execution (CapEx) and Operational Excellence Initiatives (OpEx) in the process industries. While the use of dynamic simulation for these initiatives is proven, this new label signifies the importance and great value of this technology to process plants operations. In addition, the use of one consistent dynamic simulation solution across all applications provides a consistent, cost effective approach.

Lifecycle Dynamic Simulators provide excellent business returns for process plants operations.

The lifecycle simulator concept is fully supported and embraced by MYNAH Technologies with Mimic Simulation Software. We have participated in lifecycle dynamic simulation implementations for control system validation and testing, operator training, operating procedure verification and testing, and general operational excellence initiatives. Our customers report excellent business results from using Mimic, and in many cases pay for the simulator well before the startup of the plant. Please see the Business Case for the Virtual Plant Using Mimic Simulation Software to understand the need and value of dynamic simulation in the process industries.

This article will examine the subject of lifecycle dynamic simulators by answering four key questions.

  • How can dynamic simulation be used for Capital Project Execution (CapEx)?
  • How can dynamic simulation be used for Operational Excellence Initiatives (OpEx)?
  • What are the best practices for implementing lifecycle dynamic simulators?
  • How does Mimic Simulation Software fit these best practices?

Lifecycle Dynamic Simulation Approach for CapEx

Dynamic Simulation has been proven to be a valuable tool for both new process investments and process control modernization. In an ideal situation, the dynamic process model would be developed early in the project and refined and tuned through project execution, into process unit and automation system commissioning. Using this same model for process and control system engineering, control system validation, operator training, and operations support will provide the best results and reduce the cost of development and maintenance of the simulator.

  • In the early pre-FEED phase, a strategy for the dynamic simulation should be defined and the functional requirements should be developed.
  • During the FEED, the dynamic simulator can be used to review process design and control philosophy and be used to identify control and operational issues early in plant design.
  • During control system engineering, dynamic simulation is integrated to the off-line process automation systems and used to test control system configuration and graphics. Control design can be evaluated early in the project when rework and changes will have the least project impact.
  • Automation system testing, including Factory Acceptance Test and operational tests should be conducted with the fully integrated dynamic simulator. Operating procedures can be tested and refined using the same lifecycle simulator integrated with the off-line process automation system. Problems and issues that could delay unit startup or disrupt production can be caught before they impact the project.
  • Operator training can be accomplished well before the startup of the plant or the commissioning of the process automation system using the dynamic simulation with the off-line control system simulator. Structured training and open exploration of process dynamics and control system performance are both valuable in preparing the operator for actual plant operations.
Lifecycle dynamic simulators significantly impact the financial success of process industry capital projects.

Lifecycle Dynamic Simulation Approach for OpEx

The investment in lifecycle dynamic simulation provides excellent returns for the lifecycle operation of the process plant. The investment in dynamic simulation can be easily justified based upon the following OpEx benefits. In addition, by using the same simulation technology and dynamic model applied to the CapEx initiative, a cost-effective, integrated, consistent approach can be realized.

  • Process control improvements can be developed, tested, and demonstrated to operations management without affecting the operation or production of the actual plant. If implemented correctly, the control system configuration developed in the lifecycle dynamic simulator can be exported directly to the process automation system minimizing operational risk.
  • Training new operators on process operations, startup and shutdown procedures, and hazardous or infrequent process occurrences, can be accomplished without affecting the running process.
  • Evaluating new and experienced plant operations can be done on pre-developed training scenarios. Plant operations competency requirements can be established and reinforced with repeatable, measurable, documented training sessions.
  • Process optimization and modification studies can be done on the dynamic simulator providing the process engineers with a tool that accurately models the process dynamics not seen in steady-state design models. Process changes with control improvements can be thoroughly tested before construction begins, reducing rework and startup times.
  • Process and regulatory documentation can be developed and tested on the dynamic simulator without impacting the operation of the process.
Lifecycle dynamic simulators provide excellent returns for process plant OpEx initiatives

Best Practices for Lifecycle Dynamic Simulators

To support the implementation of lifecycle dynamic simulators and to maximize the value to operations and return on investment, there are some best practice requirements for implementing this technology. Those best practices are:

  • Dynamic process models must follow good chemical engineering unit operations and thermodynamics methods, but must also be dynamic and real-time. Real-time response must support good process dynamics for even fast processes without changes to process control system loop tuning.
  • Applying the same dynamic simulation platform to both CapEx and OpEx provides a cost-effective, consistent approach, that maximizes the return on investment in the model development. A multi-purpose approach will result in the greatest return on investment.
  • The dynamic simulation platform must allow incremental model development, enhancement, and tuning in order to support the evolving requirements of the lifecycle. The ability to start with a model with less data and then to tune it for future use cases is essential. The simulation must support a wide range of process model complexity from simple IO models to complex unit operations models.
  • The off-line process automation system used with the dynamic simulator must run the exact application software without deletions or modifications from the plant system. In order to provide a solution that can cost effectively be kept current with the plant system, it is essential that the off-line control system database be protected from any additions or deletions.
  • All process automation system IO should be simulated even if their signals come from simplified models. This allows operator training or operational studies to extend beyond the boundaries of the rigorous process models.

Mimic – The Clear Choice for Lifecycle Dynamic Simulation

Mimic was designed for the implementation of lifecycle dynamic simulation. It is the clear choice for the process plant operations manager who wants to implement a multipurpose dynamic simulator during the lifecycle of the automation system and process asset. In addition, Mimic is designed to provide this valuable technology at a very low cost of ownership.

  • Mimic Advanced Modeling Objects provide rigorous first-principles, dynamic models of process plant unit operations designed for the real time demands of lifecycle dynamic simulators.
  • Mimic’s Model Execution Engine and Simulation Studio application allow easy development and enhancements of process models. Mimic is a breakthrough dynamic modeling technology that allows quick implementation of process simulations, while sheltering the user from “low value add” engineering tasks like model convergence tuning, initialization, and compiling. In Mimic, you configure the unit operation object and it works.
  • Mimic was designed to work with the off-line process automation system. Mimic’s Simulated IO system drives IO signals to the process control system using open Industrial Ethernet and proprietary protocol supported by the control system vendor. All IO is simulated and the integration process is automatic with sophisticated low-level model development utilities.
  • Mimic has sophisticated tools for operator training, control system testing, and dynamic process visualization. These tools are essential to support the best practice uses of lifecycle dynamic simulators.
  • Mimic is designed to be easy to use and maintain. This key feature of Mimic provides a very low total cost of ownership over the lifecycle of the project and the plant.
Dynamic process simulation of even complex chemical reactors is quick and easy in Mimic Simulation Studio.