By Tom Fiske.
Siemens has been providing simulation and engineering design services to the process industries for about a decade. Long ago, it recognized that there were many information gaps in the sequential engineering workflow process as well as inefficiencies due to the lack of dynamic feedback to plant design and proper evaluation of engineering results.
To overcome these shortcomings and support their services business, Siemens developed a modular Simulation Based Engineering Platform called SIMIT.
A major impetus behind the development of SIMIT was the need to create a set of tools and methods to optimize the plant and make the engineering process error-free during the entire plant lifecycle.
Many companies still use a sequential over-the-wall engineering workflow approach utilizing numerous incompatible tools so that it is difficult to not only share data and information among the various tools, but is also difficult to collaborate and exchange ideas to improve planning, engineering, plant test, plant operations, and training while shortening the duration of a project.
Significant features of SIMIT include its dynamic capabilities, modular design, openness, bi-directional communication dataflow, and its applicability across the entire lifecycle of a plant. The dynamic capabilities make it suitable for design studies, operational analysis,automation and controllability studies, as well as a basis for building a training simulator.
Its openness and bi-directional data flow ensure that consistent data is used for all applications and provides the foundation for concurrent engineering and collaboration among design, automation, and operations groups. The SIMIT platform is modular and open so that users only have to procure what they need and can use third-party tools and applications as desired.
The SIMIT object-based architecture permits the creation of a dynamic virtual model of the plant that includes the description of actuators and sensors. The open architecture permits the generation of automation software from process design data. SIMIT is also being used to perform process monitoring. Siemens has been providing simulation-based engineering services to the oil and gas, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and other heavily batch-oriented industries.
In the near future, Siemens expects to tightly integrate dynamic simulation with MES and ERP applications to create a real-time performance monitoring system.
Siemens says its client benefits include reduced design costs, early detection of problems in the planning phase, smoother and faster start-ups, faster time-to-benefits, reuse of knowledge, greater flexibility in the conceptual phase, early detection of control logic errors, and Increased proficiency of operators.
One of the major challenges for Siemens will be to convince users to alter their current work practices and adopt new ones. Such cultural changes have always met with considerable resistance.