Petrochemical Complex Ramps up Reliability

Multipronged initiative leads to substantially improved asset performance.

By Majed Al-Rassi, Saudi International Petrochemical Co.

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To give management a better understanding (plus documentation) of what's happening in production units, Sipchem chose to implement Emerson's AMS Suite: Asset Performance Management (APM), built on Meridium's APM software. This application can process the huge volumes of field-based information being collected and automates the flow of data from the field to our business network.

AMS Suite APM integrates predictive intelligence with asset reliability information and delivers accurate data to the CMMS. This enables creation of precise maintenance orders based on the criticality ranking of the assets, giving us a powerful tool to improve the performance of the equipment that is most important to plant reliability.

The software can be customized for each user. It features a device dashboard that provides an immediate view of asset performance, availability and maintenance in each plant. It also displays historical charts that show monthly results for overall equipment effectiveness, availability and maintenance costs. Designed for easy navigation, this system allows users to obtain greater detail on any of these factors.

Without a doubt, asset ranking helps us shine the reliability spotlight on assets that need our attention from both the operational and maintenance perspectives. Failures are tracked, so the bad actors that account for so much maintenance time and expense can be spotted and replaced. Some of the frequently failing assets we were able to pinpoint included a carbon dioxide compressor seal, catalyst recycle pumps, high-pressure methanol feed pumps and high-pressure reactor feed pumps.

We also identified some of those elusive "performance gaps" that often cause process plants to "typically operate 20% below full production capacity," according to the ARC Advisory Group — see:, "Emerson and Meridium Partner to Resolve the Asset Performance Management Puzzle." One that we discovered and subsequently corrected involved tar receiver pumps.

We have achieved a number of important benefits:

• Predictive maintenance helps us prevent unexpected shutdowns and allows us to repair or replace poorly performing assets during the next scheduled maintenance period.
• We use the asset ranking criteria developed by our joint reliability team in virtually every facet of reliability improvement.
• Sipchem reliability personnel can quickly access information from multiple plants and view reports in near real-time.
• We have improved maintenance by creating and using key performance indicators to measure, track and evaluate the performance of each plant.
• Identifying and replacing bad actors has dramatically enhanced maintenance and reliability.
• We have substantially reduced active alerts.

Figure 2 shows that active alerts essentially were eliminated in six different production units during the summer of 2012 after implementation of AMS Suite APM in June.

Real-time analytics and reporting of overall plant health provide management with answers to many questions regarding production assets in complex systems. Repetitive tasks are eliminated, recurring problems are identified and corrected, reactive maintenance is a thing of the past, and operating practices are improved.

The Sipchem Jubail Complex now has the foundation to be a world-class chemical production facility.

MAJED AL-RASSI is a reliability engineer for Saudi International Petrochemical Co., Jubail, Saudi Arabia. E-mail him at

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