Smart Machines & Factories
Foundations set for digital operations in upper tier COMAH site
Published:  27 August, 2020

By using an integrated solution, Siemens DI has enabled Kemira to optimise how it makes its polyacrylamide products, which are used for the cleaning of municipal and industrial wastewater, and consequently achieve increased productivity levels at its Bradford plant.

At the plant Kemira produces a range of polyacrylamide products. Polyacrylamides are powdered solid products that act as flocculating agents, binding with impurities and small particles to speed up the separation of solids and liquids in a multitude of industrial processes. Acrylamide is the essential raw material in the polymerisation process via which polyacrylamides are manufactured.

The biggest challenge the company had was that for many years the acrylamide was sourced from a Kemira plant in The Netherlands, with up to ten tanker loads per day making the journey across the North Sea to Bradford. To improve the use of resources and minimise waste the company set out to bring the manufacture of acrylamide on site.

Using Siemens’ technologies including the SIMATIC PCS 7 platform and digital instrumentation portfolio, Kemira is now producing the acrylamide on site and is also able to capture and analyse data to drive significant improvements in the efficiency of the process - achieving a near 50% increase in peak production rate.

The Siemens solution has allowed the Yorkshire factory to achieve its goal of becoming self-sufficient in the production of acrylamide rather than importing around 1600 tankers from its sister plant in the Netherlands each year.

With a safe and efficient plant, Kemira is now using the data generated from the process to optimise the manufacturing process and further reducing batch cycle times achieving new weekly and monthly site production records, and the process runs at a lower temperature, which cuts energy consumption.

Currently running with three reactors the site has a designated space for future expansion within the new plant, with the potential to add a fourth reactor and additional processing equipment.

The chiller plant has also been designed with one eye on potential future demand and the scalable design of the control system means that any new instrumentation can quickly and easily be incorporated.

Steve Leech, business manager process control systems, Siemens Great Britain & Ireland, said: “The successful deployment has enabled Kemira to take their first steps on their digitalisation journey.

“In the chemical sector, this is a significant move forward and sets them up to meet the challenges of the sector in areas such as flexibility, productivity, time to market and quality.”

Siemens’ solutions also supported Kemira’s responsibilities to optimise safety at the plant as the expansion resulted in a change in classification of the site from being Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (COMAH) lower tier to upper tier.

“Safety is paramount for any chemical manufacturing facility and the process control system plays a critical role in ensuring safe operation. The Safety Matrix solution for Process Safety provides the operators with clear visualisation of any safety related incidents or messages and allows appropriate action to be taken in an efficient and controlled manner. This is particularly true in the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (COMAH) site to which Kemira’s Bradford site was raised whilst we were engaged in the project.”