Materials Science

Speciality monomers: transparency in production increases manufacturing efficiency

GEO Specialty Chemicals has developed a manufacturing process for speciality monomers that increases production efficiency, reduces downtime and gives the chemical manufacturer a clear view to growth

GEO Specialty Chemicals is an industry leader in the development and manufacture of high-purity chemicals, producing over 300 products for more than 1,000 customers in the coatings, adhesives, medical, water treatment and construction markets. In 2018, GEO opened a new production facility in Hythe, UK aimed at enhancing and extending its existing capabilities, specifically for high-purity speciality monomers. Working with Siemens Digital Industries, the company incorporated the Siemens SIMATIC S7 control system and WinCC, and a mixture of other technology solutions, to optimize the manufacture of monomer products by managing processing equipment such as the reactor, vacuum system, temperature control unit, and charging systems, however, within 12 months of commissioning the new plant, GEO had reached production capacity and needed to scale up.

The solution

“We call it the S2 Production Plant, which is a new production facility inside an existing building built in 2018. It runs as a separate unit alongside the original which is the S1. The building was built with room to install an additional plant and these rooms were left vacant until the need arose,” says GEO IE&C Engineer Tony Short. “In order to meet demand, we needed to increase what we could produce. The key drivers for us were to scale up production, increase control, and have the ability to develop and optimize recipes in-house rather than bring in third parties at a vast expense.”

As a top-tier COMAH site handling inventories of high hazard chemicals, GEO also needed to ensure the highest level of safety controls, alarms and interlocks. After initially considering upgrading its control unit, Siemens DI proposed the deployment of a complete solution based on integrated hardware and software, reconfiguring the plant and embedding the blending process into the new design.

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

硅镁质电脑7被选为自动化platform by GEO because, according to the company, it fitted perfectly with the requirements of being scalable in its deployment, flexible in operation and enabling the optimization of existing recipes and the development of new recipes in a controlled and standardized manner. Another key selection criterion was Siemens’ track record, which demonstrated the company’s expertise through many successful and proven in-use platform deployments across a wide-ranging number of process industry applications.

The benefits

GEO says the ability of the SIMATIC PCS 7 distributed control system to provide flexible configuration of recipes has been a game changer for the company: “With the new solution, every stage of the process was in-built and done as a baseline,” says Short. “Managing the recipe of the chemical mix and other functionalities became easier. The PCS 7 has empowered engineers and technicians to optimize recipes on their own, rather than having to call in third parties. This has resulted in considerable cost saving, freeing up money to invest in improving systems and processes. Even more visualization of the production process has also been a major benefit – with the SIMATIC PCS 7, we get full visualization of the whole system, which means things like tuning valves was a straightforward task. This reduced commissioning time and made us operationally efficient sooner and has meant that qualification batches were much quicker and easier to produce.”

GEO also says that key to the successful deployment has been the training and support provided by Siemens: the solution included the Sitrain PCS 7 training course for managers and bespoke training for 15 operators and maintenance control technicians. The partnership also includes a three-year service contract and remote connection to the plant.

“A key benefit of this project has been Siemens’ support,” says Short. “I don’t think we would be as far as we are without that continued support of a dedicated team of hardware and software engineers. Given Covid and the challenges of the pandemic this remote connection has been invaluable and helped ensure the plant has continued to run seamlessly.”

Further information

For further information on GEO Specialty Chemicals visit www.geosc.com

For further information on Siemens Digital Industries visit www.siemens.com