20 May, 2024

The Mosaic Company enhances decision-making capabilities with modern DCS

19 December, 2018

Our world will have nearly 10 billion mouths to feed by 2050. With this burgeoning population, the agriculture industry has some critical work to do. One way to grow more food and increase the effectiveness of every acre is through fertilisers that can help provide essential nutrients for optimum growth.

The Mosaic Company is a leading integrated producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate and potash, two key ingredients in plant fertiliser. Much of Mosaic’s phosphate mining production is located in Florida US.

To mine phosphate in this state, the nutrient is pulled out from under the sandy topsoil and sent through pipelines to a processing facility. The facility then uses a series of washing, vibrating and flotation stations to separate the phosphate from the sand and clay.

Mining for information

To meet growing demands for increased crop yields, Mosaic needed to add a premium fertiliser product line to its New Wales, Florida, facility. In order to accommodate the new process, the company needed drastically to expand the existing distributed control system (DCS).

The legacy HMI system provided limited to no visibility into key production data. The system only provided big picture elements of the facility and very few data insights. Without contextualised information, operators were not able to make the best-informed decisions.

Existing HMI screens were also overly complex and colourful, making it difficult to quickly interpret abnormal conditions and quickly respond.

Additionally, the legacy system was programmed with more than 4000 alarms that notified operators of operational changes more frequently than needed. These nuisance alarms required operators to unproductively respond to hundreds of active alarms to identify and respond to those significant to the operation.

This made it nearly impossible to quickly recognise and respond to legitimate issues in the process that needed to be fixed. Limited visibility combined with too many alarm notifications resulted in extra work and lost productivity.

“Once the company decided to expand the facility, we made the business case to upgrade our process automation software, too,” said Josh Johansen, project engineer, The Mosaic Company.

“We needed contextualised information intuitive enough for any employee to use, and a resolution for our over-alarming issues. This large-scale expansion was an excellent opportunity to finally move forward with a full visualisation solution.”

Enhancing the view

Automated Controls of Tampa Inc. designed and implemented Mosaic’s new high performance HMI utilising the PlantPAx Library of Process Objects (PDF) from Rockwell Automation. The New Wales facility already had an installed base of Rockwell Automation hardware and software, so making the upgrade was a smooth transition.

The PlantPAx distributed control system is based on open communication standards to streamline control and information flow across the plant. It also provides a comprehensive and accurate picture of a facility’s operations, providing operators optimal and easy-to-understand insights, trends and alarms.

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