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Refinery safety modernisation

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

In September of this year, the Heide refinery took two weeks of planned downtime at its pyrolysis plant to migrate to new safety systems. The technology selection emphasised plant availability and a high level of investment security, while extensive preliminary testing guaranteed a smooth changeover. When the refinery, Germany’s northernmost processor of crude oil, undertook an extensive DCS replacement project, it also replaced the pyrolysis plant’s reliable 20 year old safety technology and new HIMax systems from the same manufacturer, HIMA Paul Hildebrandt GmbH.

Plant availability is particularly important at the refinery. In the pyrolysis plant, process changes or conversions of the models of operation are frequently undertaken. These changes or conversions need to happen at speed and easily during plant operation without impairing plant safety. The refinery also wanted a state of the art, future safe safety platform with a long product lifecycle, that can be easily extended.

The details

Integration of the safety systems in the operating and observation level of the previous process control system, TDC 3000, and of the new Experion PKS system, both from Honeywell, were implemented via MODBUS RTU and MODBUS TCP/IP. The coupling to both control systems was extensively tested before the installation so that commissioning would run smoothly. The pyrolysis plant is being progressively converted to the new control system.

Three redundant HIMax systems are in use as ESD, BMS, and F&G systems. A HIMatrix F35 system functions as pump controller. Overall, the safety controllers in the pyrolysis plant process approximately 2000 signals. For the migration, most of the existing marshalling racks were retained; this measure reduced procurement costs, as well as installation, wiring and test efforts.

Also, in addition to the hardware and software solution, HIMA also provided an extensive range of services, including detail engineering, training, PLS integration and commissioning. The safety experts also provided support with the specification, concept development and TUV acceptance.


Thomas Romahn, MSR Technician at Heide refinery said, ‘with the HIMax safety system we are investing in the future. In the new project we again chose HIMA because we have had years of positive experience with the company. HIMA safety controllers that process a total of approximately 7500 I/Os have been in use at the refinery for more than 40 years.’

Phillip Schmidt of HIMA said, ‘as project manager, I supported the migration process from concept development to commissioning. The project engineer, Karsten Schwerin, was the direct contact onsite for our customer the whole time. Thus we ensured that all quality standards were complied with, and that the project ran smoothly.’

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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