McKinsey: realise the potential of advanced process controls
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.
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.
Axora launches global challenge for digital technology
Axora is launching the world’s first international competition to discover new cost-saving digital technology for industrial companies, which can produce rapid benefits within a year.
The Metals & Mining and Oil & Gas sectors have recently experienced budget cuts of 20% on average, driven by a variety of factors including the global pandemic, slump in demand and price wars. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge aims to transform these industries by discovering innovative, digital solutions that reduce cost fast and pay for themselves, whilst achieving the same or improved productivity, health and safety and sustainability standards.
“While digital solutions can help to get work done quicker and more cost-effectively, they typically require a three-year ROI, and if there’s no flexibility in the budget, a full budget planning cycle is needed to get things moving”, said Dr. Nick Mayhew, Chief Commercial Officer, Axora.
“Yet, extra financial cost is often incurred in delaying digital projects, so customers have asked us to highlight solutions that can have an ‘in year payback’ whereby the cost spent on the solution and deployment will be more than recovered within the budget year - this accelerates the timeline and drives positive business impact, quickly.”
The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge
Axora is keen to learn of any digital cost-saving innovation which: meets the 12-month payback timeframe; can be deployed in any part of the value chain including upstream, downstream or midstream oil and gas, metals processing or mining; and is ready for market. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge is open to entrepreneurs, start-ups, academics and sector leaders across the world. The competition will be judged by a panel of leading industry experts.
“We’re passionate about supporting our industries and customers through all forms of digital transformation and the cost-saving solutions we are searching for could also provide a lifeline to many mining and metals and oil and gas companies in the current economic climate,” added Dr. Mayhew.
Improving productivity, safety and sustainability
Up to ten finalists will be chosen to pitch their solutions at a digital pitch day later this year, after which Axora will validate the ROI models and vet the solutions. The winner will receive the ‘Axora Market Accelerator’ sales and marketing package worth £10,000. This includes a two-hour workshop, promotion through Axora’s thought leadership content and inclusion into its digital demand engines, providing the opportunity for the winning solution to benefit thousands of industrial companies. Entries are open until May 31. Full details of the competition including terms and conditions can be found here.
To learn more about the Axora B2B digital solutions marketplace read our feature in the latest issue of Mining Global magazine.