Operations managers have many priorities to juggle in their workday. Some of these activities are completing emergency repairs, resolving instrumentation issues, meeting production targets, preparing and presenting reports. When a company purchases a new APC project it may fall to the bottom of the priority list due to other activities requiring more attention. Why is it important to start APC activities soon after the contract award? What are the convincing arguments for operations managers that will help them move the APC project higher up the priority list and start implementation as soon as possible?
Where does APC fit in the list of priorities?
APC technology has been proven to be valuable to companies, helping them achieve and exceed production and quality targets with ease and consistency. Quite often, the procurement process for an APC project includes a benefit assessment of the implementation, and this assessment is done by using a snapshot of operations data. Vendors typically guarantee these benefits, reducing risk for companies.
Operations managers should consider all the reported benefits of APC including benefits for operational improvement in prioritising this activity. Time required from the operations department for the implementation and training time is some of the key considerations. Since APC benefits are calculated and, in some cases, guaranteed, there is reason to move this activity high in the priority list. Delays in implementation of the project will lengthen an otherwise short return on investment.
Faster APC implementation has many benefits
Operational benefits of APC include fewer operator alarms, reduced wear and tear on equipment such as control valves, consistent plant operation, and agile plant response to changing operational requirements. Operator stress is reduced due to all these improvements.
Faster APC implementation realises monetary benefits earlier, reducing return on investment time. The post audit activity required to prove the base case benefits can be conducted earlier. Meaning there is little or no impact of process changes such as catalyst de-activation, tray and exchanger fouling on the calculated benefits during the procurement phase. Consensus on final achieved benefits of APC against guaranteed benefits can be reached much easier if the project is completed soon after procurement. This is because data sets representing operations pre and post implementation can be fairly consistent.
Minimise impact of process changes on APC benefits
An implementation of APC soon after procurement has the benefit of realising benefits as quickly as possible. Minimising disparity in operational data between a pre-implementation base case and post-implementation data is also a key outcome of completing the implementation work soon. Process changes and degradation over time can be avoided and it is easier to build consensus on the final achieved benefits of the APC application.
Successful APC implementations have thoughtful technical design and bring significant benefits to companies that adopt them. Agreeing on benefit guarantees quickly will leave a lasting legacy of an APC project professionally executed and happy customers.