Schedule AI Assistant

It is time for refineries to ditch outdated scheduling tools and embrace AI solutions?

Posted: June 20, 2022

Most of us have had times in our careers when we’ve known that we could be doing much more to help our organization thrive, but have been left frustrated by circumstances. Being swamped with day-to-day tasks that leave little time to focus on a strategic approach, or lacking the right tools to make a meaningful difference is not only bad for business, but also hinders career fulfillment.

These circumstances can feel all too familiar for refinery schedulers. Working at the heart of refinery operations, they have the potential to deliver major performance improvements, identifying and acting on opportunities as they arise and making small adjustments that deliver big results over time. But legacy tools prevent many schedulers from becoming strategic business partners who deliver sustained performance improvements. Artificial Intelligence (AI)-infused, cloud-enabled technology is giving schedulers their time back – freeing them from number-crunching so they can complement automated insights with their real-world expertise.

Traditional scenario-planning tools have barely changed since they were first introduced in the 1970s, and even today are little more than supersized calculators. They require schedulers to spend hours inputting data, tweaking parameters, and analyzing the output to identify optimal scenarios. This time-consuming approach isn’t just frustrating for the schedulers, but also has significant business implications. In the fast-paced refining industry, schedulers need to be quick to respond to opportunities, and hours wasted crunching numbers mean many simply get missed.

Today’s solutions automate data collection by synchronizing data feeds throughout the refinery into a single hub while AI-infused technology provides multiple practical scenarios in seconds for schedulers to quickly analyze. With machine learning at its core, this technology becomes more accurate as it processes more scenarios, detailing specific requirements for each refinery.

Key benefits include:

Eliminating gaps: A single flowsheet is used across scheduling and planning environments to eliminate gaps by design while intuitive, configurable visualizations and alerts make it easy to track activity and correct errors through multiple scheduling views.

Flexible integration: A cloud-enabled solution allows the technology to be easily integrated with other sites and plant systems to optimize data feeds. Built-in data reconciliation and baselining can be used to update schedules to reflect reality and compare plant performance against the schedule.

Automating rules: The rules engine and the ability to construct rule-sets capture common scheduling strategies, freeing up schedulers to focus on value-added tasks supported by risk-exploration analytics.

Blend optimization: Easy-to-configure functionality for process units, pipeline, and product blends allows users to quickly set up, adjust, and optimize single- and multiple-blend activities. Economic and operation targeting helps ensure more profitable, realizable schedules.

Collaboration: A flexible user interface allows different schedulers to work in tandem with easy collaboration between one other and across the wider business. Multiple users can adapt and update the same schedule, reducing the time it takes to produce an end-to-end schedule. Commenting and conflict management provides a seamless user experience.

When time is of the essence and the pressure is on, schedulers will understandably still go to tried-and-tested approaches, potentially missing out on better options. AI-infused solutions provide visual insights fast, enabling schedulers to ensure the best possible outcomes for the refinery time and again.

How AVEVA Schedule AI Assistant can help

AVEVA™ Schedule AI Assistant is a step-change for schedulers. It rapidly generates multiple optimized schedules that navigate through days of schedulers’ work in seconds, giving them deeper analytical reviews of optimized scenarios to add strategic operational value.

To learn more, read our white paper, “From scheduler to strategist: The next-generation technology shaking up refinery scheduling.”


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