In large scale continuous pharmaceutical or biotech processes, starting the system and then maintaining steady state operation isn't always the easiest of tasks. However, properly designed control systems have been utilized to perform reliable startup/shutdown operations, help Operators react and recover quickly from process disruptions, and maximize the overall rate of production. This article will highlight a few key concepts that should be incorporated into control strategies in order to keep that product rolling on down the tracks.
The startup/shutdown portion of a continuous process can be quite complicated and not something that can be easily defined through software modeling. Quite often, the startup procedure for a continuous process is derived from a mix of safety criteria, engineering design, and procedures from other plants with varying degrees of automation. Many times, during development, the startup/shutdown operations do not get the same focus as the steady state operation. Good design will account for the difficulties during these transitions and will address them up front. Control strategies that ensure safe and efficient operation have the following similarities:
Once a well-designed control system is installed, smooth and efficient startups can be achieved turning past troubles into memories and old war stories. Even better, utilizing these approaches has allowed our clients to shave hours from startup routines, saving as much as 50% of the time required to reach full operation, and allowing operations and engineering personnel to keep that train running strong.