The cost of energy is a major contributor to operational costs. So the use of utilities such as steam and fuel should be minimized to the extent possible. Also operating the unit with minimal wastage through flaring, helps to contain production costs.
One of the key requirements of any process unit is to produce on-spec product at all times. Off-spec product will require reprocessing thus reducing the throughput. Too high a product purity is a loss as well, as the giveaways are high. Producing a product of 99.5% purity when the purity needed is only 98%, increases the cost of production.
Process upsets and feed condition changes are unavoidable in any process unit. However, how quickly you return the operating conditions to normal will limit your off-spec production. During startup operations too, off-spec production is unavoidable. An optimal path that limits your off-spec production is your best bet to contain the cost of production.
Achieving all of this and more in a live plant requires experience. Sometimes a trial and error approach may be required to find optimal conditions, which is not possible in a live plant.
Imagine’s real-time process simulator provides a platform to try various operating conditions to ascertain their feasibility and to arrive at the optimal conditions.