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Katrien Valkiers |

Conversion to PCS 7 at INEOS ChloroToluenes

Conversion to Siemens PCS 7 paves the way for safe, continuous production of chemicals.


The production of benzylchlorides at INEOS ChloroToluenes is a complex chemical process involving various steps and subsystems. So the bar was set high when this chemicals specialist was on the lookout for an automated process control system. The requirements included fewer system failures, guaranteed safety in a critical production environment and constant availability. Siemens was chosen thanks to the quality of its systems, flexible engineering options and previous positive experience with our technology.


INEOS ChloroToluenes is a business unit of global chemicals group INEOS. The company has two identically configured production facilities in Tessenderlo. Both plants were in need of a complete automation revamp, but production of the semi-finished products had to be compromised as little as possible.

So in 2015 INEOS embarked on a gradual automation project with Siemens, in five phases. In the first phase (2016) a new PCS7 platform was installed, to which part of the outmoded measuring plate was converted. In phase 2 (2017) the existing DCS system (1200 I/Os) was converted to the new PCS7 platform. The ultimate aim of phases 3 to 5 is to ensure that both plants in Tessenderlo will be running wholly on Siemens technology in 2020. By then some 3000 I/Os will have been converted.


Business challenges


• The outmoded systems were prone to long production downtimes, entailing large losses, since if one component out of all the closely interworking subsystems gives up the ghost, production would grind to a halt.

• The total cost of ownership of the old systems was becoming ever higher. To reduce costs in the long term, a revamp was indispensable.

• INEOS was looking for a flexible system that it could extensively program and engineer itself. By doing some of the preparatory work on its own account, costs can be reduced.

• A phased solution enabled the chemicals manufacturer to keep its production up and running at all times. And because at the end of the journey all new systems should interact seamlessly with one another, INEOS wanted a technology provider who manages the entire drive train.


Technical challenges


• The operating system was in part still running on an old measuring plate with conventional controllers. Spare parts were no longer available for these systems, with the accompanying technical risks.

• Repeated failures in the controllers resulted in a lot of technical work and even brief production downtimes.

• Outmoded alarm boards were not configured properly, meaning that many messages were incorrect. As a result, operators were often unnecessarily kept from their work.

• The major part of the installation was running on a Siemens S5 system combined with another DCS (Honeywell TDC3000) system. This structure meant that programming was confusing and made even small adjustments complex. This impeded the further growth of the system.

• INEOS needed highly secure systems for the chemical environment, and the associated risk of explosion. The Ex-barriers that handle this were outmoded and also had to be replaced.

• In the event of technical problems, operators needed to be able to intervene themselves with ease. But rapid support was also crucial for more complex questions. Which is why INEOS was looking for a service partner capable of acting quickly - either remotely or on site.




• The specifications for the first phase described the most urgent changes, and Siemens emerged as the front-runner in terms of price and quality. In contrast to competing solutions, SIMATIC PCS 7 can deliver signals directly - and hence more safely - right to the systems.

• The good experience with the PCS 7 solution in an INEOS facility in Maastricht also proved to be a plus point. By migrating the plant in Tessenderlo to SIMATIC PCS 7, the entire INEOS ChloroToluenes group is running on one DCS system, offering advantages in terms of spare-part policy, training and support.

• In the first phase (2016) Siemens supplied the new main controller (SIMATIC AS 410), with a higher-level redundant OS server, engineering station and operator stations. Together with INEOS we outlined the basic configuration, after which INEOS got to work itself on the further programming. This was commissioned during the annual 4-day stoppage.

• In the second phase (2017) the entire old control system was transferred to PCS 7, following which the new control system was coupled to local I/O systems. Here too INEOS was able to carry out a great deal of the preparatory work itself, in order ultimately to convert no fewer than 1200 I/Os in just 4 days.

• Since the functionality of the plant had to be completely reprogrammed, the opportunity was taken to make changes to the system aimed at improving safety and efficiency.

• In the subsequent phases the remaining measuring plate in the first plant is being transferred to PCS 7 and the second facility will undergo the same revamp.




• Very soon after the first phase operational working improved: controllers no longer failed, and alarm management once again worked properly. Incorrect messages - and the associated time loss - are now things of the past.

• After more than a year with PCS 7 there has still not been a single failure. INEOS’s aim of significantly reducing failures has therefore been impressively achieved.

• Thanks to the automatic sequences in the new control system, operators do not need to perform so many manual actions. The result has been a significant rise in productivity.

• Operators experience the benefits. Thanks to a flawlessly running production process they can concentrate fully on their job. The new system is user-friendly and features an extensive functionality, and responses to it have also been positive. The new monitors provide an improved overview, meaning that the operators have more control over the system.

• Adjustments to the programming can be performed quickly and easily by INEOS itself. Whereas the old control system was a hindrance, the new SIMATIC PCS7 system now allows the plant to grow further.



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