SK energy Co., Ltd.
SK energy Co., Ltd. is the largest general petroleum and petrochemical company in South Korea. It has recently integrated the monitoring and control processes for the production of petrochemical products with the aim of improving operational efficiency and optimizing the allocation of human resources at the production facilities. As a result, the monitoring and control range for each operator has expanded significantly. Thus, the objective of the project for operating the facilities with fewer operators was successfully attained.
SK energy Co., Ltd.
Factories and Plants Oil Refining and Petrochemical Reliable Operation Operation Improvement Industrial Automation Control and Monitoring Systems and Software
Promoting the integration of monitoring and control processes to improve operational efficiency on the production floor
SK energy, which originated as Korea Oil Corp., a government-run company established in 1962, is now the largest petroleum and petrochemical company in South Korea. In addition to general petroleum products such as gasoline, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), SK energy supplies diverse petrochemical products to global markets, such as synthetic resins, styrene monomers and ethylene. In recent years, the company has actively been expanding business in the clean energy field by marketing solar cells and lithium ion batteries in response to rapidly growing needs for the reduction of CO2 emissions for global warming prevention. The lithium ion batteries supplied by SK energy are used in hybrid vehicles produced by a Japanese commercial vehicle manufacturer. As such, SK energy offers high-quality products to meet various market needs.
For the past several years, SK energy has been making companywide efforts for the integration of production monitoring and control processes.
“The main purpose of our efforts is to enhance operational efficiency on the production floor and achieve optimum allocation of human resources,” says Mr. Kang. “It is essential for our company to maintain and strengthen competitiveness in global markets.”
Around 2008, aging DCS* needed to be updated. As part of the integration efforts, SK energy decided to use DCS of a single vendor for the three production facilities which had previously been monitored and controlled by DCS of multiple vendors, thus unifying the operator interfaces. Specifically, the company chose to integrate the monitoring and control processes for the production of three petrochemical product groups --- namely heptane, benzene/toluene/xylene and paraxylene.
Reliability backed by the past track record and flexible expandability for the future as decisive factors
When the project was initiated, SK energy requested proposals from the vendors that provided DCS products for the aforementioned three production facilities. Upon careful examination of the proposals submitted by the vendors, SK energy chose Azbil Korea Co., Ltd. (AKR), an overseas subsidiary of Yamatake Corporation, as a business partner for the project.
“Our company has been using Yamatake products, including DCS, for more than 30 years in various production facilities. Based on their excellent track record, we believe that Yamatake products are robust and do not break easily,” says Mr. Park. “We also highly evaluated the workmanship (work quality) of each member of Yamatake and AKR we encountered. Furthermore, AKR has an office in Ulsan where our plant is located. That was one of the key factors for selecting AKR as our partner, since the close proximity of the office means a speedy response from AKR at all times.”
“In evaluating candidate companies, we gave high scores to AKR because its proposed plan would enable the utilization of our existing assets such as currently used controllers and operators’ skills, and, above all, because the proposed system offers expandability that will allow further integration of the production processes we aim to achieve in the future and AKR presented a concrete roadmap for that future integration,” says Mr. Noh.
The Advanced-PS APS5000 system is circularly arranged in the instrument panel room. All monitors are visible from the center of the room to allow easy confirmation of equipment operating status by the supervisor.
For the monitoring and control screens, the IOUS 500 Windows-based human-machine interface is used. The well-designed display layout, including a large LCD display and sets of two display panels arranged vertically, has expanded the monitoring and control range for each operator and increased dramatically the amount of displayed information.
Delivering proposals and support into the future as a solution provider
“The monitoring and control screens with a gray background are easy to see and also gentle on the eyes of senior operators. They are received well by the operators on site.” (Mr. Seo Hyun Joo, General Manager, No.1 Aromatic Production Team)
Construction of the system started immediately after AKR was selected as a system supplier in October 2009. The aging DCS was replaced by the Advanced-PS™ APS5000, a newgeneration plant automation system. The new system integrated the monitoring and control functions that had previously been performed independently for each of the three facilities, and began operation in November 2009.
The IOUS™ 500 adopted as a unified operator interface for the new system increased the amount of displayed information three to four-fold as compared to the previous system. Furthermore, the physical layout of devices was carefully designed, such as sets of two monitors arranged vertically, in order to facilitate on-screen monitoring.
“The use of the gray background for monitoring and control screens based on AKR’s proposal produced remarkable benefits and improved the visibility much better than we had expected,” says Mr. Noh. “The statuses and conditions of equipment and manufacturing processes can be easily checked not only by the operators in charge, but also by the supervisor sitting at the center of the instrument panel room.”
“As a result of implementing these measures, the monitoring and control range for each operator and the number of loops increased dramatically, thus enabling the operation of the facilities with fewer operators,” says Mr. Park. “The new system contributed largely to the improvement of operational efficiency on the production floor and optimized allocation of human resources, which were our main aims in initiating the project.”
In future, SK energy plans to evolve the system for further integration of manufacturing processes based on the newly constructed system.
“To that end, we intend to actively utilize operational support packages such as the Knowledge Power™ plant operation support system and Alarm & Event analysis software,” says Mr. Kang. “We look forward to AKR’s powerful support, not just as a system supplier but as a solution provider, while remaining true to its policy that ‘a job is not complete until the customer is fully satisfied.’”
Note: Some of the information for March 2012 and earlier may use the former names of azbil Group companies.
* DCS (Distributed Control System)
DCS refers to a system designed exclusively for the monitoring and control of production equipment in a factory. Since DCS distributes functions to individual components of the system connected by a network, it reduces system load and offers excellent reliability and maintainability.
Learn about the customer
Instrument Team 1
Technology Management Team
Engineer, Instrument Team 1
SK energy Co., Ltd.
SK energy Co., Ltd.
SK energy Co., Ltd.
- Location: 110, Kosa-dong, Nam-gu, Ulsan 680-130, Korea
- Establishment: October 1962
- Business scope: Production, sales and distribution of petroleum products and petrochemical products
This case study was published in the April 2011 issue of the azbil Group's corporate magazine, azbil.