It is no longer a secret that modern process plants can only operate efficiently if the data from the planning phase is also available for operation, maintenance, and modernization. However, paper-based documentation is cumbersome, error-prone, and hardly ever consistent. Mixtures of Office, Excel, and CAD applications, like MicroStation, for instance, are generally not the most efficient. Although they have high maintenance requirements, the as-built plant reality and the documentation do not necessarily tally reliably at all times. However, only if this is the case can costly new inputs and unnecessary engineering effort be avoided and plant availability maximized. Switching to a future-safe instrumentation and control computer-aided engineering (I&C-CAE) system that provides this consistency is a step that needs to be carefully considered, but it is definitely manageable. As the following example shows, a migration can take place in stages, either during plant modernization or in existing plants, without having a negative impact on ongoing operations, because old data is available throughout, and the costs stay manageable.

Kuraray Europe makes many significant contributions in the chemical sector with high-performance materials, technologies, and applications. To make sure it stays that way in the future, the enterprise continually invests in its production plants to keep them state of the art. When modernizing a plant, it is essential to document all changes so that they are traceable and available in the plant documentation, e.g., for maintenance purposes and for planning future projects.


Modernization of a Chemical Plant as an Opportunity

In 2016, when converting a process plant located in Höchst (Fig. 1) for the production of polyvinyl alcohol (POVAL) — a water-soluble, biodegradable plastic used in the paper and consumer goods industries and as packaging material — the chemical company decided to set the course for the future by switching its documentation to an integrated I&C-CAE system. Until then, it had been using a variety of different tools for documentation and now the company wanted to combine them. 

“We were soon able to convince the decision-makers that our I&C-CAE system ProDOK NG was the appropriate solution,” said Christian Stolz, senior account manager, plant solutions, Rösberg Engineering GmbH. “We proposed a stepwise procedure without starting again from scratch. This, ultimately, proved to be financially interesting, too. 

With ProDOK NG (Fig. 3), automation specialist Rösberg offers a high-performance I&C-CAE system that ensures an integrated planning process with unified rules and uses state-of-the-art software technology. This makes the system an out-of-the-box solution that is easy to use, flexible, and inexpensive and opens up many possibilities, e.g., for visualization, modularization, and integration into different system landscapes, databases, and cloud applications.


First Analyze, then Migrate

Before starting the migration, a comprehensive inventory was first carried out. Various tools were in use at Kuraray, including MicroStation files for CAD drawings (of control rooms, cabinets, terminals, etc.), VinApp files for device data, and numerous Excel tables from many different trades. These all had to be transferred to the I&C-CAE system, and the conversion process needed to be automated as far as possible due to the volume of data.

After recording and checking the various formats and variants, the I&C-CAE system’s converter was adapted accordingly so that migrating the data to the new documentation system could be automated as far as possible. Thus, for example, a total of 7,400 MicroStation DNG files, comprising 3,600 wiring diagrams and 3,800 control room/cabinet documents, plus other types of documents (including 300 DXF files), were automatically converted into DWG files with drawing frames. To these were added 2,000 new loops with linked CAD-I&C loop diagrams in the new parts of the plant. 

“The data were present in the new documentation straight away and could be gradually converted into intelligent CAD drawings with additional information depth,” said Elisabeth Wächter-Schäper (Fig. 4), head of electrical and instrumentation at Kuraray. “This meant the documentation was always available throughout the migration, although not all documents became smart at the same time.”

The automation specialists followed a similar procedure when importing the project data and master data from the VinApp systems. These data were first converted into Excel formats, imported, and were now available in ProDOK NG’s device engineering. Existing data were taken over and could be easily completed by adding device-specific data, connection points, graphic symbols for the I&C loop diagrams, type examination certificates, instruction manuals, and Ex(i) data for Ex-proof calculations.


Access to the Current Documentation

“The benefits of the migration are that there is now a unified system with one database, everyone concerned always has access to the current data, no documentation is duplicated, and the same could soon be true for all our locations via the possible cloud connection” said Wächter-Schäper.

Following the successful conclusion of this project, another production plant was migrated to the new I&C-CAE system in 2018. As the second plant, used for the production of MOWITAL —polyvinyl butyral, a plastic used, for example, for the films in laminated glass and printing inks — was not being simultaneously modernized, the changeover to ProDOK NG was faster since there was no input into the documentation from new projects.

Following both migrations, the automation experts trained the employees of the chemical company  and also the contractors, who now benefit from the consistent documentation as an extended workbench, for instance, for use in future modernizations. Changes that take place while the plant is in operation can now also be easily recorded and maintained in the documentation. This is ensured by LiveDOK NG, a documentation software system tailored to the processes and requirements of engineering, commissioning, and the operative support of machines and production plants (Fig. 5). It offers the possibility of administering, searching, and correcting the documentation and plans of industrial plants digitally and in real time. Alterations, additions, and new documents are imported straight away and are visible to all project participants. At Kuraray’s site in Höchst, all the plant data are available in the I&C-CAE system as digitalized as-built documentation and can be kept up-to-date very easily with LiveDOK. The stepwise procedure has paid off, and the costs were manageable.