The IIoT is Making a Major Financial Impact in Refineries Worldwide

There are about 650 major refineries globally. Some of these plants are operating at peak performance, but many are not. Emerson’s calculations show the difference in operating costs between a well-run refinery and an average one is about $12.3 million per year for a typical 250,000 barrel per day facility. Assuming about 60 percent of refineries are not operating as well as they could, the overall worldwide financial impact runs into hundreds of billions of dollars annually.


The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) provides solutions to deal with performance issues in the form of Pervasive SensingTM solutions. These solutions consist of adding wireless points of measurements throughout the plant, monitoring these points using predictive analysis, and alerting plant personnel so they can take timely action. These activities help optimize production processes.


Another important issue is the shortage of skilled personnel to run refineries, which can be addressed by applying IIoT Pervasive Sensing and predictive analytic strategies to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the people running the plants. The IIoT does this by presenting plant operators and engineers with timely and actionable information with the help of asset management and other data analysis tools, allowing them to act to prevent failures and consequent safety and environmental incidents. The IIoT also gives operators the data they need to improve plant performance.


Companies building new refineries are well aware of the benefits of using IIoT and pervasive sensing applications. A typical modern facility will have about 50,000 inputs and outputs to and from control and monitoring systems. But an older refinery will typically have closer to 20,000 inputs and outputs, with the 30,000 shortfall mostly inputs. The lack of information from these missing inputs is the root cause of much inefficiency, and many operational issues and safety incidents. So why haven’t all refineries added thousands more points of measurement, given the proven financial benefits?


One reason is that in the past, these inputs would have been wired from the sensing point to a control and monitoring system. Adding this wiring to an existing facility is usually a very expensive undertaking, and it often requires significant downtime, which isn’t an option as many refineries operate at or near full capacity. But proven Pervasive Sensing solutions allow these points of measurement to be added quickly and inexpensively with wireless sensors.


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