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Register below for one of our live webinars that share new approaches to process improvement & optimisation. 

Or watch one of our pre-recorded webinars here...

Modern Operator Alarm Improvement and Rationalization


The single biggest cause of poor operator alarm performance is an inconsistent set of values of the alarm limits. But search for advice on how to find values for alarm limits and the answer will be: "put the limits at the boundary of where you normally operate". For the practising engineer this advice is next to useless because he or she doesn't have a way to locate that boundary across many hundreds of variables.

The key is an Operating Envelope or Operating Window spanning many hundreds or even thousands of variables, some with alarms defined and some without.

Better operator alarms make money for your plant by reducing operational variability, which contributes to a reduction in operating costs and, in cases where throughput is increased, to a reduction in the unit costs of production. Conversely, poor operator alarms cost you money every single day.

In this month's free webinar you will discover the modern method of rationalization by locating the Operating Window and Envelope of any chosen set of objectives and setting alarm limits around its boundary. You will see the usefulness of being able to see and compare Windows and Envelopes for different operating objectives and the benefits of predicting Alarm Performance with immediate feedback instead of the delayed feedback inherent in the old method.

Register now for a webinar and take a concrete step towards improving the stability, efficiency and availability of YOUR process. 


Can't make it? Click here to access our previously recorded webinars

Geometric Process Control – what is it and why do I need it in my plant?

Geometric Process Control (GPC) is a technology developed here at PPCL. It lets you see hundreds of process variables and tens of thousands of observations from process and other plant data in a single parallel coordinates graph with supplemental time-trends, distribution plots, and Pareto plots with every individual point traceable through all the views. It comes with an extremely powerful graphical Boolean query capability that lets you extract feed-to-product operating windows and operating envelopes to help you explain why yesterday was such a great day for your KPIs and what went wrong last week when the fractionator column flooded five times.

Why is this important? Well, it lets you benefit from a few hundred thousand years of evolution and use your amazing human powers of pattern recognition and interpretation to determine cause-and-effect relationships – as well as correlations - in multi-variable problems where previously you had fewer than 10 variables to work with. You also would have needed some heavy-duty mathematics, which requires first an expensive statistician and then a hypothesis to test and which tends to introduce new complications when trying to explain your results to others.

Having determined your best operating envelope from process history, GPC creates a real-time model complete with graphical operator interface for process operator guidance and an OPC Client to link to your DCS or historian to keep your process operating in the best operating envelope you have chosen far into the future.

People ask is GPC Machine Learning (ML)? Probably, with the caveat that definitions of ML vary. Is it Artificial Intelligence (AI)? We don’t think so, but it might feel like it to process operators and certainly might be if we added neural net algorithms. GPC is based on a novel method of capturing human intelligence. It can be very powerful for identifying training data for AI and for understanding how the black-box models produced by AI have arrived at their results.

Come to this free webinar and we will show you how GPC unifies process control, quality control, KPI achievement, operating limits and operator alarms into one readily understandable framework. A huge step forward for chemical engineering and you won’t need more than basic maths!

Do You Really, Really Want to Reduce Process Energy Usage?

Wouldn’t you rather have a process that is easier to operate and needs less attention and intervention? Just turn up the temperature, increase recycle or reflux and allow grinding to continue for longer and your wish will be granted - but at the cost of expensive additional fuel. Fuel is the directly visible cost of excess energy, but it’s not the whole cost. Additional cooling is needed to remove the excess energy, throughput is reduced due to higher recycle and reflux, and extra downstream processing is needed. What’s more, carbon credits or environmental permits may also be needed.

In this webinar we are going to show you how to make your process easier to operate without increasing your energy usage. Once you know how the plant should be operated it is easy to compare that with how it is being operated now and calculate the cost difference. For most companies the difference lies somewhere between “large” and “very large”.

The innovative technology which makes all this possible is Geometric Process Control, developed here at PPCL. By considering process operating envelopes as a multi-dimensional geometric object, process and alarm performance and targets can immediately be evaluated and compared, and contradictions or difficulties immediately become visible. Performance and energy monitoring and reporting are clear and consistent for everyone involved, allowing an increased understanding of how to reduce energy costs to ensure achievement of your company’s objectives.

Discover a new early warning system which helps process operators avoid adverse events


Downtime and degraded production from process disturbances and trips are major costs to the process industry. Alerting operators to developing events such as column flooding, valve issues, compressor surge, equipment fouling and pump trips can dramatically reduce production losses. Here we present a simple, low-cost method based on process history which can be created visually by the engineer without advanced mathematics. They are fast and easy to create and implement compared with traditional condition monitoring and fault detection models. They are also more sensitive to multi-variable variations produced by developing events, giving the process operator more time for an avoidance or mitigation response.

In this free webinar we will demonstrate the creation of models complete with operator display and OPC client interface to show how this low-cost method based on process history can be implemented by a trained engineer in a matter of hours.

Using Visualization to Analyze Big Data from Process Plants

Process plants generate thousands of variables of continuous time-series data. This data has enormous potential which is largely untapped by the conventional analysis tools available to most process and control engineers. Fashionable “Big Data” approaches are challenged by process plant data and have limited application for busy engineers since many of the assumptions and simplifications destroy the richness of process data. Geometric Process Control (GPC) – a technology unique to us here at PPCL – avoids these pitfalls and provides engineers with graphical tools to work with datasets spanning their entire plant and create low-cost, equation-free predictive models to develop new process understanding quickly and easily.

This webinar demonstrates our unique approach to analysis on a process with a medium size dataset spanning the process from feed to product, with 750 variables over a year at 10 minute intervals. We’ll discuss how to approach big datasets and explore them visually, using operating envelopes and finding interactions between variables. Covering the entire process including incoming analyses through processing conditions to final quality variables, KPIs and performance variables, GPC enables engineers to explore their data fully and make discoveries that they couldn’t before. We’ll also cover process stewardship, using your discoveries to achieve quality targets and operational excellence long into the future.

Operating Envelopes for Multi-Step Processes


All processes are multi-step, but many where the producing step is much longer than the start-up and shut-down steps have long been characterized as ‘continuous’, leaving all others to be put into categories such as ‘batch’, ‘cyclic’, ‘fed-batch’ and ‘transition’. In reality, all processes are multi-step, which means there are almost always different operating envelopes for each step. The envelopes for successive steps wholly or partially overlap with each other in high-dimensionality space and can now be examined and modelled to achieve both single and multi-step performance monitoring, optimization, operator alarm-setting and process improvement using the same no-maths Geometric Process Control tools which we demonstrated in last month’s webinar on continuous process optimization (recording available at www.ppcl.com/webinars/recorded-webinars).

In this week’s webinar you will see modelling of operating envelopes for a multi-step, multi-variable environment (a stirred-tank reactor with distillation and thus several very different operating phases) and for an oil well drilling example. There will be a discussion-led review of other frequently-encountered applications, such as grade transition in polymer manufacturing, during which all attendees are encouraged to participate by nominating their type of process.

The webinar will be delivered by an experienced chemical engineer and, while of primary interest to process and control engineers, will be fully within the comprehension of managers and other staff remote from real-time process operations who may have the task of creating business cases justifying future investment.

Smarter batch processing is within your reach! Attend this webinar and let us show you how.

Visualizing Operating Envelopes Enables Optimal Operation


Whether the goal is better product, more throughput, lower cost or a combination of all three, the key to repeating best operation is understanding your process and how it behaves. Such information is already present implicitly in your plant historian. This webinar demonstrates visual tools which engineers can use to extract and exploit the wealth of information available.

An Operating Envelope is the relationship between variables that gives the best achievement of one or more objectives such as yield, throughput, quality etc. This can be very complex when multiple optima exist and, until now, very difficult to see with more than a handful of variables. In the past, targets would be found individually, discounting the inherent relationship between the variables. Doing this is tedious and it is difficult to move them in accordance with new or modified goals through KPI targets. It would often conflict with other limits such as Safety Alarms, Integrity Operating Limits and Operator Alarm Limits.

Feed-to-product Operating Envelopes make it easy to reproduce best operation by identifying key variables and operating ranges to ensure consistent operation or provide MPC constraints. Additionally, new information can be generated by comparing operation under different external conditions with current constraints and operating limits to question why our operation is where it is. This can be done graphically without needing advanced statistical or analytic techniques. You can even see how that newly proposed KPI and its limits will perform and whether the operating window is sufficient to achieve the required targets.

Watch the webinar now and discover more about PPCL’s fast, practical, no-math approach to extracting the information and insight buried in your process history data.

Achieving Operational Excellence

Does achieving operational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) support your business goals? Or are they considered contradictory, unrealistic or even impossible?

Are they unrealistic? How and why do unrealistic targets get created?

In a modern process plant using traditional methods, identifying and evaluating KPI targets is somewhere between difficult and impossible. However, it becomes much easier when leading KPIs are positioned on an operating envelope defined by lagging KPIs.

Geometric Process Control, an innovative new technology developed here at PPCL, provides the way to quickly and easily see such operating envelopes across hundreds of variables. Potential KPIs and targets can be immediately evaluated and compared, and contradictions or difficulties are immediately visible. Performance monitoring and reporting become clear and consistent for everyone involved, allowing process refinement and increasing understanding of how KPIs interact.


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