Italy’s leading producer of refined biodiesel has optimised its production process by investing in Movicon SCADA, available in the UK through Products4Automation. The upgrade has enabled the green fuel producer to meet increased demand for its biodiesel product, with improved production management.
Located in Vasto in the Abruzzo region of the west coast of Italy, Fox Petroli built its name refining oil by-products, but in recent years has focused on the development of environmentally friendly fuels. The company’s most recent development is biodiesel called BIOFOX, derived from rapeseed oil, and designed to produce less harmful emissions from diesel engined cars.
With increasing demand for the product, short comings in the plant were becoming apparent. For example, each reactor had to be started up manually, and without full automation in both start up and operation there was regular downtime. Making matters worse, the causes of downtime were often difficult to pinpoint, prolonging the production stoppages.
Fox Petroli realised that it needed to improve production control and management with a solution capable of guaranteeing maximum efficiency and productivity. Making the whole process more cost-effective. The solution needed to be reliable and readily scalable, while being easy to control and simple to maintain in mission critical processes.
To realise these goals, the company turned to automaton systems integrator ESEA, that recommended Progea’s Movicon SCADA solution. A plant control and monitoring system was installed with three redundant Movicon supervisory stations, connected to a Siemens S7-300 PLC over Ethernet. This architecture provides reliable control and security for all the biodiesel plant’s processes.
The platform is designed to monitor and supervise the whole plant, which is divided into nine process sectors corresponding to nine reactors that produce biodiesel. The sequential reaction processes refine the raw rapeseed oil with alcohol in a process called transesterification, producing a combustible fuel with properties very similar to diesel oil. A by-product from the process, glycerine, is sold on for use in other types of industrial processes.
The supervisory control system receives inputs from 50x analogue measurement points, including flow metres, level probes and temperature probes. And it provides control of 60x motors and pumps, as well as 45x valves. The Movicon software provides simplified production recipe management, enabling workers to easily identify and manage all operational parameters. Alarms and automated reporting of anomalies guide maintenance staff to restore production, and the system also provides information on targeted interventions or preventive actions based on historical analyses and statistics taken from data recorded on the most frequent or longest downtimes.
By using purposely designed Movicon graphical screens; the operator can control and monitor all the operations and the different phases of the processes comfortably from the plant control room. This extends from warehouse storage to refining and reactor processes, plus stockholding of produced materials. Redundant terminals guarantee the highest levels of security and continuity for the complex and sensitive process.
In addition to the supervision of the production process, the system also highlights overall efficiency through each process, by recording data into a SQL Server database relating to quantities of raw materials used versus the final product quantities attained from each of the reaction systems.
All of the analogue data is also archived to the database, along with details of events, enabling production analysis reports to be generated. Data is recorded at specific intervals according to the particular process, and historically logged data is displayed in trend windows. This provides essential feedback on how the plant is performing so that set-up parameters can be refined to optimise product quality and plant efficiency. Detailed curve graphs representing production trends and can be printed according to defined or zoomed-in time ranges, or for the whole production period in general.
With demand for biodiesel growing rapidly, there is a need for the suppliers in this new and dynamic industry to improve their efficiency. Thanks to its Movicon SCADA upgrade, Fox Petroli is now well placed to respond to growing demand, with the assurance of reliable, optimised processes and comprehensive historical analysis.