Advanced process control: the engine of Industry 4.0
With the onset of new technology, computing power, and digitalization, it is possible to extract more value from existing assets. Advanced Process Control (APC) is a key tool in this process, helping companies optimize their processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs.
To ensure successful value realization, companies need to evaluate the value APC can bring, assess their readiness, adopt best practices for successful execution and sustainment, and ensure interoperability and integration with higher-level decision-making tools. With these steps in place, companies can fully realize the benefits of APC and thrive in a digital future.
What is advanced process control?
APC is a supervisory level of process control that optimizes the performance of process units in real-time. It uses mathematical models, algorithms, and statistical analysis to predict and control process behavior, and typically runs on the control network and is interfaced with the control room.
APC applications optimize the plant by controlling lower-level regulatory controllers, and they do this while keeping safety measures in place and with minimal change to the regulatory control system. Informed suggestions from decision making models such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and digital twins are provided to the APC application, which drives the plant in a safe, dynamic, and responsive way. In other words, APC is like your best operator always controlling and optimizing the process unit.
The Importance of APC
Industry 4.0 spans a wide range of use cases and frameworks including big data analytics, digital control of work, work connected to AI, and machine learning.
Whether AI, ML, or digital twins are adopted, the realization of value comes down to real time actions at the process unit level. Informed decisions require a deterministic vehicle for implementation that safely moves valves and other final elements in the field. Process constraints, dynamics, and safety limits need to be respected, and this is where APC comes in.
APC tools and applications have been around for more than 30 years and are now seeing renewed value in a digital future. It’s considered the real-time engine of smart suggestions that enables value realization in a safe way on a minute-by-minute basis.
The APC market is forecasted to grow at around 8% CAGR between 2021 and 2027, with a focus on the Metals, Mining, and Metrological (MMM) industry. As the world's demand for valuable metals grows, the MMM industry is adopting new technology through digitalization to improve their margins and productivity. APC needs to be part of the journey and is often considered a foundational component to success.
The challenges of a digital future
As companies move toward a world of data optimization and digitalization, they face a number of challenges:
- Growing pressures to meet increased ESG requirements in the shift toward a lower carbon future.
- The ability to unlock benefits from existing assets, especially with changing feed stocks.
- Making sense of data in a meaningful and tangible way.
- The retirement of baby boomers is leading to a resource squeeze, especially with the shifting geographical non-remote preference.
- The interoperability and integration of multiple business intelligence tools with actionable and responsive engines.
To ensure successful value realization, companies need to adopt a number of key steps when implementing APC:
1. Assessing the value
Before implementing APC, it is important to calculate the value it can bring to your organization. This involves identifying key business drivers such as the recovery of products, reducing energy consumption, and production optimization and maximization of throughput, and then assessing how APC can optimize and control these processes and drivers.
2. APC readiness assessment
Once you have evaluated the value of APC, the organization’s readiness needs to be assessed. This involves assessing the lower control layers such as the regulatory control and instruments to ensure they’re in a condition that allows the integration of APC.
3. Best practices for successful execution and sustainment of APC
To ensure successful execution and sustainment of APC, companies need to adopt best practices. This involves developing a project plan, identifying key stakeholders, and ensuring there is a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities. It also requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the APC system to ensure it remains effective.
4. Interoperability and integration of APC
To fully realize the benefits of APC, it is important to ensure interoperability and integration with higher-level decision-making tools. This involves integrating APC with other business intelligence tools to provide actionable and responsive insights.
As organizations move toward Industry 4.0, they are looking for ways to extract more value from their existing assets. APC is a key tool in this process, helping companies optimize their processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Contact us to find out how your organization can fully realize the benefits of APC and thrive in a digital future.
 Advanced Process Control Market- Growth, Trends and Forecasts 2029 (maximizemarketresearch.com)
 McKinsey: Eight Industry 4.0 Value Drivers | Manufacturing Digital
Global Advanced Process Controls Lead, Systems, Process and Control
Eliyya is an accountability-driven senior APC engineer with over 16 years of hands-on experience in an operations environment. Eliyya has had the opportunity to work on a number of innovative APC projects, leading to the co-authoring of numerous technical papers. His project management experience has strengthened his skills in delivering APC and other automation projects effectively and on schedule. Eliyya holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from McGill university and is a management professional.