Nov 26, 2020

McKinsey: realise the potential of advanced process controls

McKinsey
reports
controls
Dominic Ellis
2 min
Managers must examine how advanced analytics can be used to generate maximum value from APCs and focus on people, processes and technologies
Managers must examine how advanced analytics can be used to generate maximum value from APCs and focus on people, processes and technologies...

If your company is on top of Advanced Process Controls (APCs), you may be in the minority. 

Less than 10 percent of installed APCs are activated or optimised in some industrial companies, according to a new McKinsey report, while others haven't been re-evaluated to ensure inputs and constraints are properly tuned.

Even those companies that do tune their APCs sometimes fail to sufficiently test them or lack adequate management systems to track and report performance, and rely on external vendors for maintenance, the report adds.

The way organisations utilise control logic can be visualised as a pyramid. 

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In the mining industry, APCs commu­nicate with different feed sources to deliver the target particle mix to a mill1 to be processed. They also help ensure an optimal retention time by controlling the feed rate of ore and water (“ore hardness”). Each real-time controller drives a single controlled variable to a prescribed set point. 

CIOs, CTOs, and COOs responsible for optimising their organisations’ technologies should closely examine how advanced analytics can be used to generate maximum value from APCs. Doing so requires a comprehensive approach that addresses challenges across three categories: 

  • People Improve the utilisation of APCs through better performance management of operators and vendors and take a comprehensive change management approach.
  • Processes Improve underlying layers of APCs with better processes to maintain the health of sensors, instrumentation, and BLCs.
  • Technologies Improve APC design and logic by identifying the right objective function and input–output relationships, reviewing the constraints, and employing advanced-analytics models.

Companies interested in extracting more value from suboptimized APCs should look for any of the following indicators:

  • a high degree of variability in critical process indicators, including throughput and recovery
  • a low utilization rate (less than 80 percent) of existing APCs that control key processes
  • no process to periodically (at least once a year) review APC logic or set points
  • no rigorous management system to track the health of underlying BLCs, instrumentation,and sensors

If any of the above conditions are observed, there is likely significant opportunity to unlock additional value through APC optimisation, the report concludes.

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Jun 30, 2021

Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech

Rio Tinto
ELYSIS
Decarbonisation
Alcoa
3 min
ELYSIS
Rio Tinto and Alcoa’s JV project ELYSIS has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint

Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.

The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).

The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.

The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.

ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.

ELYSIS technology at a glance:

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.

 

Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”

Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”

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