Case Study

Automation System Maximizes Productivity For Soy Oil Production Plant

Automation System Maximizes Productivity For Soy Oil Production Plant

Extracting oil from soybeans is a complex process. The owners of a soy oil production plant in Paraguay wanted to maximize productivity while minimizing the risk of downtime. To do so, they required an integrated automated solution.

In 2013, the Complejo Agro­industrial Angostura S.A. (CAIASA) consortium opened a new soy oil and flour production plant at the Angostura port in Paraguay. It had invested US $200 million in state-of-the-art technology so it could turn 4,000 tons of soybeans a day into raw oils and soy husk pellets, with storing capacity for 200,000 tons of seeds, 20,000 tons of soy oil, and 100,000 tons of flour. The plant has the capacity to produce 20% of Paraguay’s total soy oil output. 

Making soy oil is a complex process with many steps and factors to account for. The process includes separating the soybeans for cleaning, intensive drying, splitting of the soybeans, and oil extraction with a solvent. The resultant mixture is then sent to a distillation tower for separation and degumming before tanks are filled with the finished product. 

CAIASA wanted to optimize every stage so it could achieve its ambitious production targets and minimize the risk of downtime. The best way to achieve this was using automation technology with precision monitoring and control. To track its success, CAIASA also wanted to collect data from every stage for analysis.

Experience Earns Trust
The project team assessed various process control options, and Simatic PCS 7 was the clear winner, as CAIASA had previously enjoyed excellent results with the system at its plants in Argentina.

“The experience obtained by our project department in the de­vel­­op­ment of plants with the Simatic PCS  7 process control system e­nsu­res that all the necessary require­ments for achieving an integrated system at each automation level will be met,” says Marcelo Guarda, electrical and automation engineer at Bunge Corporate Projects Depart­ment. Bunge entered into a joint venture with CAIASA to build and operate the new plant.

CAIASA selected the Argentinian electrical engineering company Autex S.A., a Siemens Solution Partner, to integrate the automation system into every step of the plant’s oil extraction process, right up to shipping. CAIASA selected Autex based on the company’s prior ex­perience implementing automation systems in the region’s oil industry. 

Advanced Redundancy And Reporting
A high level of redundancy is ­essential to ensure a safe soy oil ­extraction process. Autex implemented the process controller with an abundance of redundant servers, clients, and controllers, and a hot standby system to guarantee maximum uptime. 

Autex also implemented the Simatic PCS 7 PowerControl tool, which integrates switchgear automation with the rest of the oil extraction process so that all power use data, including those from both raw materials handling and from utilities, are combined for ­enhanced analysis, efficiency optimization, and cost savings. 

For historical data reporting, the system uses a storage server called Process Historian, which generates global reports on the consumption of raw materials and services per ton of finished product. These reports are available online for plant managers to track performance and initiate changes.

“The ruggedness of this product must be highlighted as well as the benefits to maintenance personnel when it comes to incorporating changes without affecting the plant’s productivity,” says CAIASA’s specialist in control systems, Diego Gamboa. “The amount of information provided must also be highlighted, as each operator or manager at the site may use it to drive efficiency improvements.”

A Model For The Industry
The plant now enjoys consistently high availability thanks to the ­redundancy features and Simatic PCS  7’s exceptional diagnostics and early fault detection. The system’s
ease of implementation and simple operation have made the entire ­operation much safer and more ­efficient – a model in optimizing performance and minimizing down­time for the agro-industry. In fact, Siemens’ automation technology has helped raise produc­tivity levels so high that the Paraguayan coastal region has been transformed from a simple exporter of raw materials into a global exporter of finished products.

Data & Facts

  • US $200 million invested in new technology
  • 4,000 tons of soybeans a day turned into raw oils and soy husk pellets
  • Responsible for 20% of Paraguay’s soy oil output
  • Region transformed from exporter of raw materials to exporter of finished products
  • A model of productivity for the agro-industry