Is process simulation fit for the future?
Does today’s process simulation meet the requirements posed by increasing digitalisation up to the „digital twin“? This question is addressed by the experts of the ProcessNet working committee Process Simulation, Process Synthesis and Knowledge Processing in their current position paper „Process Simulation – Fit for the Future?”. The position paper can be downloaded free of charge.
Process simulation is already one of the most important tools in process development, operation and optimisation in the chemical, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. But are the existing tools sufficient to meet the demands of the digitalised industry? The recently published position paper „Process Simulation – Fit for the Future?“ describes the current situation concisely and comprehensively and points out future challenges. At the same time, the authors present possible solutions for a future simulation landscape as part of a interconnected environment.
In recent decades, comprehensive programme systems have been developed by a few manufacturers to support the chemical industry with process simulations. However, although these systems are very diverse, there is still no simulation environment that can represent all aspects of a process life cycle sufficiently well. Therefore, the process industry is additionally interested in open, modular solutions for individual aspects of the life cycle.
According to the experts, the concept of self-sufficient, closed process simulations will increasingly change into an open system of flexible components that are integrated into a digital infrastructure. This requires transparent and widely accepted interfaces, the integration of further data and a central management of consistent substance data as well as open architectures.
In the position paper, the experts describe the advantages and disadvantages of the current systems. They explain which hurdles, for example in interoperability and the availability of interfaces, make comprehensive integration in a company difficult. Permeability across different levels from the equipment model to the entire process and across the different stages of the process life cycle is also very limited. In addition, there are the requirements for the transition to dynamic process models, which are needed in many cases today, and which the current systems do not yet fulfil.
According to the experts, it will probably not be possible to achieve the necessary consistency in a single simulation tool. Therefore, the development of intelligent software architectures should focus on interfaces and central model management systems. Data-driven models will complement or replace today’s approaches in the future. In addition, the paper addresses elementary issues of data security and robustness.
The ProcessNet working committee Process Simulation, Process Synthesis and Knowledge Processing deals with methodologies, techniques and applications of process simulation, process synthesis and optimisation. Another focus is on basic methods and techniques of information and knowledge processing in chemical engineering. The expert committee sees itself as a specialised forum for the discussion of research and development results, for the internal exchange of experience, especially in the application of various CAPE tools, as well as for further training and the promotion of young talent in the fields of these CAPE applications. It is composed of experts from science and industry.