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Expert systems complement refinery information systems
As expert systems are incorporated as a fundamental part of refinery information development, the benefits of increased capability, flexibility, and expertise enable refiners to compete more effectively in the industry's fast-changing marketplace.
By capturing expertise in expert systems, the technology can improve efficiency and productivity for refiners, while increasing their profitability and maximizing existing information technology.
Human experience has taught us that if certain conditions are true, then certain conclusions can be drawn. Expert systems (ES) technology, a subfield of artificial intelligence, uses inference procedures to replicate this kind of human decision making.
Also known as knowledge-based systems, expert systems are computer programs that represent the problem-solving capabilities of human experts in specific, well-defined areas. They are applicable to situations in which analysis, judgment, and experience are critical to an effective solution.(1) The application of ES technology today is offering companies potential for improving operational performance.
There has been increased ES commercial activity in the process industry, particularly because it is so well suited to the management of plant operations. When incorporated as a fundamental part of refinery information development, the benefits of increased capability, flexibility, and expertise enable refiners to compete more effectively in the industry's fast-changing marketplace.
ES provides personnel the benefit of sorting through vast quantities of information in an accelerated fashion, therefore simplifying the problem-solving process. It affords companies expert skill sets, at virtually all levels of operation, facilitating and stream-lining decision making.
Unit operators, equipped with this decision support tool, are able to control quality, yield, inventory, and thus profitability, in a manner never before realized. And process problems in operations are becoming more manageable.
Offsetting the loss of special skills due to experienced personnel retiring, attrition, or other factors, is another key advantage of ES in refining, where a shortage of adequate expertise exists. The unique skill sets of an experienced process engineer, for example, can now be utilized through ES to support less-experienced unit operators charged with making critical operating decisions.
Additionally, the benefit of this technology can be made available to any shift, department, level, or geographical location. It becomes an essential means of storing, maximizing, and integrating the benefits of information, knowledge, and expert experience at the refinery.
As such, it is a technology that clearly provides a competitive advantage. Incorporated as a key element in the refinery information management system, ES provides a means for greater productivity, quality, and control.
ES evolution. Whereas in past decades oil companies derived the majority of their profits from upstream operations, today's …