29 Oct 2019

Fourth industrial revolution for refineries

Man looks at Refinery

The working world was completely transformed at the turn of the 19th century when the industrial revolution struck. 

During this time, machine labor replaced manual labor through factories and systematized production processes. 

Later, the second industrial revolution came with the advent of electricity and chemicals. 

The third, when information and communication technologies made headlines. 

Now, we’re on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution where smart technologies are set to sweep in to transform production once again. 

Complex systems like big data, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, and virtual reality are becoming more and more common in refineries as a way to cut costs and make processes more efficient. 

But what does this mean for your refinery? How exactly can you implement these technologies to make the most of their benefits? 

The Introduction of Smart Manufacturing

Smart manufacturing (or, more simply, the act of implementing smart technologies to improve refinery and plant processes) is set to transform the sector by using real-time and high-value support systems. 

By joining the revolution, refineries will be able to respond quickly to customer demands and minimize energy consumption, while improving productivity, innovation, and competitiveness. 

There are many benefits to being part of the latest industrial revolution, but it can be daunting to get started, especially if you can’t visualize what it will look like in your plant.

We’ve got you covered. 

Here are some key ways you can implement certain elements of the fourth industrial revolution to enhance your refinery. 

Operational Agility

Optimizing operations is something refinery owners are constantly striving to do. Optimized operations mean faster processes and an increase in output without compromising on quality - a win-win situation. 

Smart technologies can provide a speedy response to new situations (both good and bad) caused by fluctuations in feedstock, market demand, and price. 

These things can all drastically affect a plant’s performance if they aren’t responded to in a timely manner, which is why the introduction of operation strategies through smart tech will soon become extremely necessary. 

Increase Plant Safety

One of the biggest concerns for plant managers and their staff is site safety. 

Remote and chemically-driven environments are highly susceptible to dangerous incidents, but smart technology is set to change this. 

Big data can be used to future-proof against past incidents, and there are specific technologies, like alarm management, process monitoring, and equipment fault diagnosis that can all come in handy to reduce the amount of unsafe incidents on site. 

Planning and Scheduling 

Planning the lifecycle and processes of a refinery is not an easy task. 

Until now, planning and scheduling an entire refinery was, at best, very limited and, at worst, completely impossible. 

However, smart technologies will soon change that. 

Planning and scheduling via mathematical modeling and global optimization is set to provide refineries with a swathe of opportunities that will help them save costs, increase profit margins, and improve energy efficiency. 

Industry 4.0 is well and truly upon us. 

And, while the influx of smart technologies might seem overwhelming in the first instance, they will soon become a must-have feature for every refinery and plant - particularly those that want to optimize, cut costs, and be more efficient. 

Plan ahead and get ready for Industry 4.0 with our free guide, Contingency Planning 101. 

Download Free eBook Here

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