Emerson Process Management provided the control system upgrade at Solutia's 316-acre site in Newport, South Wales. Photo Courtesy of Solutia Inc.

The second phase of a major upgrade of the control system at the Solutia chemical manufacturing plant in Newport, South Wales, was recently completed with the help of Austin, Texas-based Emerson Process. The upgrade involves converting the existing control system to a DeltaV digital automation system. The three-phase project will restructure the system architecture to a high speed, fiber-based system, update hardware and integrate three control rooms into one centralized location.

Since 1982, the Emerson Provox distributed control system at the Solutia plant has provided flexible, reliable control. However, the need to run the plant continuously, combined with pressure for improved product quality and reduced downtime, meant that Solutia needed to plan for the time when spares would no longer be available for the more than 20-year-old system.

Emerson worked with Solutia to assess the systems investment and prioritize the needs of individual sites. The Newport plant was planned for phased migration from the current DCS to the DeltaV system. The objectives of the upgrade include increased flexibility, increased speed of communications, more robust infrastructure, increased reliability and a standardized control system across the company's manufacturing sites.

As part of a separate project, the boiler plant on site now has a DeltaV controller acting as an interface between a PLC and the operator station. Emerson's DeltaV controller was chosen for the interface based on its flexibility for the application. It also enables remote operation of the boiler. The interface application enabled Solutia to evaluate the potential power and flexibility of the DeltaV system.

During the migration to the Emerson system, the upgrades have been completed within the time allowed for the shut down required for the statutory inspections. No additional plant closures have been necessary.