Transparency in the production process increases efficiency and reduces downtime

Technology gives chemicals maker a clear view of growth

The challenge

GEO® Specialty Chemicals (GEO) is an industry leader in the development and manufacture of high purity chemicals, producing more than 300 products for more than 1,000 customers in the coatings, adhesives, medical, water treatment and construction.

In 2018, GEO opened a new production facility in Hythe with the aim of improving and expanding its existing capabilities, particularly for high purity specialty monomers..

Working with Siemens Digital Industries GEO has incorporated the Siemens SIMATIC S7 and WinCC control system, as well as a mixture of other technological solutions, to optimize the manufacture of its monomer products by managing the processing equipment such as the reactor, the system vacuum, temperature control unit and charging systems. .

But within 12 months of commissioning, GEO had reached production capacity and needed to expand.

“We call it the S2 production plant, which is a new production facility inside an existing building that was built in 2018. It operates as a separate unit alongside the original which is S1. The building was constructed with room for an additional factory and these rooms were left vacant until the need arose, ”said Tony Short, GEO IE&C Engineer.

The solution

“In order to meet the demand, we had to increase what we could produce,” Tony added.

“The main drivers for us were to increase production, increase control and have the ability to develop and optimize revenue in-house rather than bringing in third parties at a high cost. “

As a leading COMAH site managing stocks of high risk chemicals, GEO also had to ensure the highest level of security checks, alarms and lockouts.

After initially considering upgrading its control unit, Siemens DI offered to deploy a complete solution based on integrated hardware and software, reconfiguring the plant and integrating the mixing process into the new design.

Commissioned in 2020, the solution includes a complete Siemens automation package using the SIMATIC PCS 7 distributed control system, SINAMICS variable speed drives, SIMOCODE and SIRIUS Low Voltage motor starters, SCALANCE network devices, and a full range of process instrumentation, flow (electromagnetic, variable surface, differential and Coriolis), level, pressure and temperature.

SIMATIC PCS 7 was selected as an automation platform by GEO because it perfectly meets the requirements of scalability in its deployment, operational flexibility and offers the possibility of optimizing recipes and developing new recipes in a controlled manner. and standardized.

Another key selection criterion has been the history of Siemens, which has competently demonstrated this through its many successful and proven in-use platform deployments in a wide range of consumer industry applications. processes.

Benefits

The ability of SIMATIC PCS 7 to provide flexible recipe configuration has been a game-changer for GEO.

“With the new solution, every step of the process has been integrated and performed as a benchmark,” Tony said. “Managing the chemical mixture recipe and other functionalities just got easier. “

“PCS 7 has enabled engineers and technicians to optimize recipes themselves, rather than having to rely on third parties. This has translated into considerable savings, freeing up money to invest even more in improving systems and processes.

The complete visualization of the production process was also a major advantage.

“With the SIMATIC PCS 7 we get a complete visualization of the entire system, which means that things like adjusting the valves was a simple task. This reduced the commissioning time and got us up and running faster.

“This means that the qualifying batches were much faster and easier to produce. ”

Training and support were key to the success of the deployment.

The solution included Sitrain PCS 7 training for GEO managers and tailor-made training for 15 maintenance control operators and technicians.

The partnership also includes a three-year service contract and a remote connection to the factory.

“One of the main benefits of this project has been the support from Siemens,” Tony said. “I don’t think we would be as far as we are without this continued support from a dedicated team of hardware and software engineers.

“Given Covid and the challenges of the pandemic, this remote connection has been invaluable and has helped ensure that the plant continues to operate seamlessly. “

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