European process industry must enhance its operational efficiency and
flexibility if it is to compete with its counterparts in North America
and Asia. While Europe is the undisputed leader in computer aided process
engineering research, there is a need for better co-ordination between
the research community and the end users in order to identify needs and
priorities if this leadership position is to be maintained. The CAPE.Net
Thematic Network set out to do just that.
seamless approach to the use of CAPE tools
(Computer Aided Process Engineering) technologies involve the use
of computers in the design and operation of industrial manufacturing
processes, from the oil and gas industry and chemical production
to waste water treatment. CAPE relies on modelling and prediction
to significantly improve operating performance and safety, bring
about cost savings and minimise environmental impacts. While CAPE
tools have been in use since the 1960s, their applicability has
extended rapidly in recent years in response to product developments
and reduced lead time for new products, changing environmental and
safety legislation, and society's needs. Despite the extensive application
of CAPE technology, there are still problems with fragmentation
and integration, as different CAPE technologies are not always compatible.
CAPE research is therefore examining ways to make 'seamless' tools
that are applicable throughout the product life-cycle, from R&D
and process development and design, to manufacturing operations
and retrofit and modification projects.
the gap between industry and research
in the past, large operating companies typically had in-house research
teams, they now increasingly rely on outsourcing of research. The
need to 'connect' industry with research was identified as a priority
for EU research funding in this area.
initiative under the Growth Programme was the establishment of the
Thematic Network. Under the co-ordination of Professor David Bogle
of University College
London, CAPE.Net brought together process industry companies
and CAPE research groups from across Europe. Industrial project
partners include the UK's
Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), DSM
of the Netherlands, Finnish chemical industry group Kemira
and Norway's Norsk Hydro,
among others. Ten research centres from Belgium, Denmark, Finland,
France, Germany, Norway, Spain and the UK participated in the network.
the CAPE research agenda
a framework of European co-operation and co-ordination, participants
set out to identify critical issues and define CAPE research priorities
for the future. CAPE.Net had a dual strategy of increasing the competitive
advantage of the European process industry:
encourage research co-ordination; and
promote technology transfer.
Technology Working Groups were established to determine the 'state
of the art' of CAPE research and application in five technical areas
urgently requiring new capabilities and to determine the required
research agenda that could most benefit industry in the medium term.
areas were identified as:
Modelling of unit processes, in which the main requirement
is for the provision of a generalised, comprehensive modelling
environment for the integrated development of products and processes.
Whole process synthesis and integration, which requires
novel CAPE tools and techniques to develop integrated process
designs and their control, safety and environmental systems. These
will offer opportunities for radical improvements.
Flexibility, operability and dynamics: As processing plants
become increasingly complex and integrated, they also involve
more complex operations. At the same time, they require more flexible
operations if they are to respond effectively to market dynamics.
CAPE tools which can take all of these requirements into consideration
are urgently needed.
Concurrent process engineering requires the development
of highly integrated CAPE tools to overcome the deficiencies (time,
quality and cost) of the sequential approach to process development
Model based manufacturing: the increasingly complex operational
behaviour of plants means that it is harder to attain optimum
performance levels. The wider exploitation of Life Cycle Process
models for such manufacturing activities as performance measurement
and analysis, control, optimisation, operator training, etc.,
is another area requiring further research.
within each working group were charged with identifying knowledge
gaps as well as potential opportunities for R&D and technology transfer
between sectors. Working groups discussed issues such as requirements
and priorities of industry, education and training needs and best
participants produced documents on 'Scope and Vision', 'Industrial
Needs', 'State of the Art', and 'Research Priorities' in each of
the technical areas. Case studies, education and training requirements
and a list of centres of expertise were prepared. A set of presentations
demonstrating the business case for CAPE tools and a 'Good Practice'
guide were also developed.
details can be found on the CAPE.Net web site: http://capenet.chemeng.ucl.ac.uk.
transfer and knowledge dissemination
of the expense involved in acquiring CAPE technologies and the need
for qualified personnel to run them, they are limited to larger
manufacturers. CAPE.NET made a point of encouraging SME participation,
particularly in the technology transfer component, and by increasing
awareness of CAPE tools among smaller companies.
organised a series of seminars, technical workshops and technology
transfer events, addressing issues related to best practice and
appropriate standards in CAPE applications. CAPE.Net also collaborated
with other external actors, such as CEFIC
(the European Chemical Industry Association), national CAPE groups
and trade associations to identify non-CAPE active companies in
project to develop a business plan to put in place the vision developed
by CAPE.Net is under way through the CAPRI cluster of CEFIC's SUSTECH
development of methods to improve the efficiency of Industrial
processes is promoted under the Growth Programme's Innovative
products, processes and organisation key action. One of the
first Thematic Networks to be established under the Brite-Euram
programme focused on Europe-wide research on computer aided process
Thematic Network on Computer Aided Process Engineering (BRRT975011)