A good example of safety and security modernization in the chemicals industry

Editor’s brief: The chemicals industry is deeply entrenched in not just petrochemicals and polymers, but also important pharmaceuticals and medical industries, including being part of the supply chain of personal protective equipment, masks, sanitizer, and industrial hygiene and cleaning. For critical infrastructures such as energy and chemicals industries, some of the lesser talked about subjects are safety and cybersecurity in relation to modernization. A good example is how a leading chemicals giant managed to modernize their industry safety systems quickly with German Smart Safety company HIMA, with provisions for both real-time safety and cybersecurity.

SINGAPORE – Ningbo ZRCC Lyondell Chemical Co., Ltd. (Ningbo ZRCC) has successfully upgraded its safety instrumented systems (SIS) to HIQuad X from leading German industrial safety and security leader HIMA. Ningbo ZRCC is the first in China to use the leading-edge HIMA HIQuad X for advanced industrial safety and cybersecurity features.

Ningbo ZRCC produces 285,000 tons of propylene oxide and 620,000 tons of styrene per year, as one of the largest propylene oxide and styrene production units in the world.

Future-proofing with enhanced speed, safety and cybersecurity

Ningbo ZRCC has been a long-time HIMA HIQuad customer. In early 2019, Ningbo ZRCC communicated with HIMA, based on its expanded needs in sewage treatment and future-proofing, to upgrade its 10 HIQuad safety instrumented systems (SIS). Ningbo ZRCC also needed to add additional safety interlocks to their HIQuad systems at its waste alkali incinerator.

HIMA recommended the field-proven and newer HIQuad X, launched in 2018, for extending the speed, reliability, safety features of the original HIQuad, with new security and maintenance friendliness features for the current and emerging times where cybersecurity threats and needs for remote management have become prevalent. And to easily program and manage the HIQuad X systems, HIMA recommended the TUV-certified engineering tool platform SILworX. And to fulfill the security element, the upgraded system must be able to maintain secure data communication with the original system.

6 days to success with minimal downtime

After Ningbo ZRCC’s management approved the project, HIMA’s engineering department and after-sales service team went to Ningbo ZRCC’s site, to work out the implementation plan with efficiency, safety, regulatory compliance, and minimal downtime in mind.

Since downtime is detrimental to a mission-critical plant such as Ningbo ZRCC, it was mandatory for HIMA to ensure that the transition to HIQuad X would be seamless, fast, and safe. HIMA’s engineering team designed a detailed implementation plan, made full preparations prior to the transition project from hardware testing, simulated communication testing in a lab, to off-site logic testing, so as to minimize on-site work and downtime.

In June 2019, HIMA tested everything from hardware replacement to communication and logic in just six days on site, a testimony of both HIMA’s technologies, as well as its engineering expertise.

Fast, cost-effective, easy to manage, and secure

Normally, clients expect automated systems such as safety installations, to last for more than two decades, while conforming to the latest industry standards. For a 24/7/365 operation with many intricate components and systems tightly knitted together, that goes through regular maintenance every 3 to 5 years with possible downtime, upgrades can be especially challenging. Through HIMA’s modular technologies, Ningbo ZRCC was able to modernize their installation in a stepwise manner with minimal downtime, using smaller maintenance outage of single units, while keeping the rest of the installation up and running.

The HIMA HIQuad installation at Ningbo ZRCC has been in operation in over a decade running seamlessly without fail, as demanded by such mission-critical operations. During the upgrade, the existing HIQuad installation was upgraded to HIQuad X, where the entire field cabling was left untouched while the engineering team managed a modernization of the HIMA safety controllers by replacing processing units, communication units, and the I/O bus to the new state-of-the-art HIQuad X technology, complying with the latest safety and security recommendations.

The end result was that the upgraded plant has a safety network in place, where multiple controllers can act in a synchronized fashion when it comes to safety responses to critical situations. The upgraded installation used HIMA Safe Ethernet technology, running the HIPRO-S V2 to provide a safe, TÜV approved security solution, allowing the running of technologies developed during 20 years concurrently and seamlessly.

“Thanks to the elegantly simple and speedy upgrade from HIQuad to HIQuad X, we can leverage the most advanced safety technology to ensure the safety of our plant within a limited time and budget. After the upgrade, we realized a tremendous upgrade in operating speed, especially with the upgraded system’s use of the engineering management platform SILworX, providing us with comprehensive data overview, ease of operation, and convenience,” said Ningbo ZRCC’s engineering spokesperson.

“We at HIMA understand what mission-critical operations such as Ningbo ZRCC requires, and we supported their challenging plan to do a stepwise modernization of their HiQuad to HiQuad X installation. This was possible because of the effectiveness of HIMA’s product strategy, combining long-lasting product lifecycles, full compatibility of products from different generations, and a comprehensive service portfolio supporting our clients. We are always ready to help our clients achieve the highest performance for their investments in safety technologies,” said Peter Sieber, HCH GM, HIMA.