The task of creating the operating procedures for a processing plant is time consuming
and requires the involvement of key members of the design team. As one of the
consequences, the writing of operating procedures is often put off till the final stages
of the design process. However, some operability problems will remain hidden in the
design until the operating procedure is considered. These problems are expensive to
fix because they require undoing some of the design decisions that have already been
This thesis reports on research into the automatic creation of operating procedures,
a field of research sometimes called Operating Procedure Synthesis (OPS).
One motivation for OPS research is to develop a tool that can detect operability
problems in the design of a plant and thus allow operability problems to be considered
earlier in the design process reducing the cost of resolving these problems.
Previous OPS systems are generally based around single techniques such as mixed
integer linear programming. All the techniques that have been examined in the past
are strong in some aspects of OPS and weak in some other aspects. There is no single
technique that is strong in all areas of OPS. As a result, no previous OPS system is
able to generate all the procedures used as examples in the OPS literature.
This thesis presents a new approach to OPS. In this approach, OPS is viewed
as a set of distinct but related subtasks. Three subtasks have been identified and
examined in this work, namely planning, safety and valve sequencing. Algorithms
have been developed to address each of these three subtasks individually. These
algorithms have been integrated to form a single OPS system by using a common
representation of the operating procedure to be created.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.