Flexibility Key to Speeding the Build of a Duplicate Chemical Plant

Many manufacturing facilities have to consider the impact of a natural disaster on their operations—whether tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or wildfires. And sometimes customers raise concerns about whether their supply source can deliver regardless of what Mother Nature is up to.

In 2012, a chemical manufacturer had a client that wanted “delivery reliability” of the product regardless of natural or man-made disasters.  Simply expanding production at their current facility or a nearby location wouldn’t provide the needed production protection.

Matrix Technologies was approached to develop a conceptual plant design for a duplicate plant on a new site geographically removed from the existing plant.   Besides doubling their production capacity, the forces of nature would be different in each state and not overlap.

The design included underground installations, storage tank farms for raw materials and products, process reactors, piping, utilities, rail loading and unloading facilities, a wastewater plant, concrete foundations, processing buildings, and full automation of the process controls.  Besides the manufacturing facilities, the site also needed an office building and a warehouse.  From this design, our client was able to estimate the construction costs and prepare a budget for a $50 million project.

The 50-plus acre site required bulk acid storage tank farms.  Specialized materials of construction were used for the piping, equipment, and floor coatings to provide proper resistance to the corrosive environment.  Wastewater treatment and vapor scrubbing were designed to maximize recovery of product and minimize environmental effects.

Matrix Technologies also developed all of the controls and automation, including redundant Allen-Bradley ControlLogix PLCs.  The operators can control the plant equipment from the central control room or from two local HMIs, and some equipment can be controlled locally

Normally, a project like this would not start until all the detailed engineering was completed.  But shortening the project timeframe was critical for the client’s customer, and for generating income from this investment as soon as possible.

This required flexibility in releasing drawing packages to accommodate the client’s schedule.  For example, Matrix worked with the client to finalize the preliminary design of the tank farm and start ordering storage tanks, which would be installed at one end of the property.  By the time the tanks arrived, the detailed engineering and construction drawings for foundations and piping was complete.

The entire project proceeded in this manner in stages, with final design and construction drawings completed before that phase of the project began. This allowed for an aggressive schedule where, for example, concrete could be poured in one area where everything was well defined, while conceptual design was continuing elsewhere.  As a result, the detailed engineering was essentially complete within a year after completing the preliminary engineering.

Detailed Engineering

Matrix Technologies was able to seamlessly complete all of the multi-discipline engineering activities necessary for the successful completion of this project.  Our Project Management team coordinated the efforts of our Civil, Structural, Architectural, Process, Piping, Mechanical, Electrical, Structural, and Automation disciplines to facilitate this aggressive construction schedule.

Matrix Technologies is one of the largest independent process design, industrial automation, engineering, and manufacturing operations management companies in North America. To learn more about our manufacturing operations management capabilities and manufacturing process control solutions, contact Scott Saneholtz, PE, Senior Manager Process Solutions Department.

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