Improved fault detection anD efficiency through a virtual plant
Digital advances and new technologies signify new solutions for process optimization. Virtual models for process optimization and fault detection are becoming more widespread, and Outotec’s simulation systems modelling actual plants’ processes may one day lead to full plant simulations.
Outotec seeks to improve overall performance energy efficiency with a virtual plant, which simulates an actual plant’s behavior, providing valuable insights into running plants in today’s digital environment. The virtual plant provides a model for identifying potential issues, detecting malfunctions and checking whether the equipment is performing as planned with, for example, stored parameters such as maximum and minimum load and air flow emulating a real plant.
According to Senior R&D Engineer Steffen Haus, the goal with the virtual plant is to improve overall equipment effectiveness as well as four areas that are being measured: energy efficiency, raw material utilization efficiency, utility efficiency and environmental footprint of the plant. Information on, for example, emissions can be utilized for reducing energy use, while simulation technology allows for efficient and better product development tied closely together with customer needs.
“Simulation technology is also a means of quality control and product quality improvement. We can monitor the performance of equipment over time and detect potential for further development. This is an important part of our offering – we do not only provide machinery and leave our customers to deal with it to their best abilities. We want to ensure that the equipment serves its purpose and delivers the intended results every day, month and year. Optimization and maintenance complement the technology,” says Steffen.
While the virtual plant still remains a thing of the future for now, simulation models are already being used in some of Outotec’s digital products for certain processes, with development constantly taking place.