ExxonMobil Taps Yokogawa’s Unique Automation Platform

Exxon Mobil Corporation (ExxonMobil) has tapped Yokogawa Electric Corporation as its system integrator for the first field trial of an Open Process Automation (OPA) system. Particularly, it will make use of the system to operate an entire production facility.

The field trial will take place at an ExxonMobil manufacturing facility located on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Consequently, this will replace the existing distributed control system (DCS) and programmable logic controllers (PLC) with a single, integrated system that meets the Open Process Automation Standard (O-PAS). In addition, the project will incorporate enhanced control capabilities enabled through the implementation of OPA technologies and interfaces.

Optimizes Total Cost of Automation

Ryan Smeltzer, OPA Program Manager for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company described the agreement between ExxonMobil and Yokogawa as a milestone for the first field trial of an OPA system.

“The project will take advantage of significant progress made testing OPA components and the O-PAS standards in close collaboration with Yokogawa. The OPA field trial is the next step in commercializing OPA and capturing additional value from our automation and control systems,” said Smeltzer.

Accordingly, most process industries face the burden of integrating multiple proprietary systems in every process plant and facility. These include manufacturing execution systems, DCSs, PLCs, and their respective human-machine interfaces and inputs/outputs (I/O). Thus, this can result in elevated capital costs on new projects and a high total cost of ownership, especially in the operation and maintenance of such systems.

An OPA system works to remedy these challenges by supporting the integration of best-in-class components from different suppliers through configuration and application portability. This enables optimization of the total cost of automation systems.

Collaboration Milestone

The field trial is a major milestone in Yokogawa’s continued support of ExxonMobil and OPA. Besides, this also signals the shift to OPA technology from concept to a viable alternative to traditional automation for process industries. The company has commenced work on the Front-End Engineering Design phase of the project. Expected commission of the OPA field trial system, which involves over 2000 I/O, will be in 2023.

For the past two years, ExxonMobil and Yokogawa have been developing, testing, and improving OPA technologies through the joint operation of an OPA test bed located near ExxonMobil’s Houston, Texas campus.

This collaborative work has developed and qualified many of the core OPA functions in preparation for the field trial. In addition to the field trial, test bed engineers at the Houston-area development office will continue to implement and refine OPA technologies in-line with the latest version of the O-PAS standard.