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How to Meet the Challenges of Continuous Process Testing in Petrochemical Plants

Nov 8, 2022 9:37:16 AM

How to Meet the Challenges of Continuous Process Testing in Petrochemical Plants

Petrochemical plants include manufacturing chemical products derived from petroleum refining, plastics, polymer applications, upstream chemical manufacturing with wells for oil and gas procurement, and research and development, which includes geological analysis to support exploration and production for oil and gas companies.

This vital, large-scale industry is a giant in North America. In the petrochemical industry, laboratories run complex testing methods with sensitive analytical instruments. While online instruments designed to monitor continuous process testing can improve operations, they are essential to ensure that your petrochemical testing lab is meeting or exceeding regulatory compliance and quality standards. 

What Exactly Is Continuous Process Testing?

In the petrochemical industry, continuous process testing involves confirmatory tests on points throughout the process to determine whether or not the online readings are compatible with regulations and on track for the final output. In other words, continuous process testing is a way to check the final product before the end result. Ensuring lab processes work well along the way can mean providing proper additives or checking pressure over time. 

Continuous process testing can also mean:

  • Keeping track of the baseline data
  • Comparing the results
  • Achieving insights to improve your products and processes
  • Designing or refining processes to increase compliance with regulations or improve products

Like key performance indicators in other industries, continuous process testing tracks progress against a target. Continuous process testing helps create an analytical basis for making decisions and lets labs focus on what matters most: ensuring the process is going the way it is supposed to go and producing quality products every time. One of the most effective options for managing lab processes over time is to use a consolidated LIMS

Is It Possible To Move Away From Manual Documentation in Labs?

Historically, labs relied on manual entry to report and check processes across sampling sites and sources. Yes, these manual entries have been performed on computers for years, but manual entry still means that a person has to enter the data, inviting room for error and taking up valuable lab time. Because turnaround times are critical in a lab setting where testing and results are often collected in hours or even minutes, we understand direct feedback is crucial and time is precious.

Continuous process testing using a laboratory information management system or LIMS makes immediate feedback available and allows adjustments to be made on the fly, shortening production time and eliminating costly errors. Gone are the days of using Excel spreadsheets to record data manually. When the process is automated with a LIMS, there is immediate feedback after testing. 

What Are the Challenges of Continuous Process Testing?

You may be thinking that labs are already well-equipped to deal with challenges. Science is, after all, based on gathering, evaluating, and understanding observations and reactions. However, in the petrochemical world, there is a multitude of challenges.

Time Constraints

Unless you are part of a large lab, you are likely required to provide testing and analytics quickly and efficiently. By automating components of the process, using a product like LabWare Cloud (SaaS) can bring order to an otherwise chaotic and stressful environment. 

Limited Resources

Rather than spinning your wheels manually entering data, stay compliant and organized with an automated process with pre-built workflows. As a result, your organization can eliminate time wasted on transcription, data entry, and manual data checking. 

Regulatory Compliance

The challenges of testing in the petrochemical industry include meeting complicated regulatory and compliance regulations like ASTM 6299 and 40 CFR Part 419. With SaaS LabWare, you can interface to your process control application or ERP and interface with data historians for the first time with ease. You’ll also gain access to powerful analytics that can help predict trends over time. 

Workload Management

Lab managers often struggle with workload balance, managing individual lab employee workloads, and keeping track of what employee is working on what sample at what time. This is often the result of companies that have paper-based or Excel-based tracking systems. They want a better handle on lab operations. LabWare Cloud (SaaS) can fix this and provide better oversight and management of work throughput for high volumes of samples.

Immature Internal Systems

Small labs often lack internal systems to facilitate growth, sometimes combining antiquated paper methods with rudimentary computer programs lacking features that would allow the lab to function more efficiently. Implementing an advanced software solution offers a wide variety of benefits, reducing overall lab overhead and streamlining operations to create a more efficient environment for your staff.

How Does LabWare Help?

Luckily, LabWare has a scalable, flexible solution for nearly every size lab dealing with challenges in the petrochemical industry. Our software offers: 

  • Ease of use: easily integrates with existing systems, minimizing downtime
  • Detailed reporting: eliminate human error and gain comprehensive insights into your processes
  • Extensive Analysis: review powerful metrics to help improve your processes over time

LabWare can help streamline the process by seeing your baseline and comparing the results appropriately. LabWare integration will allow your lab to quickly and accurately examine the testing results and observe trends. You’ll be able to eliminate problems immediately to help your lab maintain the highest possible quality standards and meet rigorous regulatory standards. By meeting the challenges of continuous process testing head-on, your lab managers can create an efficient and effective testing environment, building confidence in your final product.

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Topics: Oil and Gas


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