Huawei Helps Sinopec Jiujiang Company Build a Wireless Intelligent Factory


Introduction

Sinopec Jiujiang Company is a subsidiary of Sinopec Group and is the only large petrochemical enterprise in Jiangxi Province. It is China's first pilot enterprise that has built an automated, digital, visualized, and integrated intelligent factory using a world-class IT system to improve productivity, secure operation, emergency response, risk prevention, and scientific decision-making capabilities.

Challenges

Before completing construction on its intelligent factory in 2012, Sinopec Jiujiang Company was faced with challenges regarding service cooperation and communication system construction.

First, the intelligent factory requires virtualized, real-time, and intelligent production and management, as well as flexible deployment of video surveillance devices, wireless electronic metering, wireless smart terminals, and other devices. Facilities, pipelines, and valves in the oil refinery will experience "evaporation, emission, dripping, and leaking" after operating for a period of time. Outdoor operation personnel need professional guidance of indoor operation personnel to resolve complex problems in real time. Currently, the MOTO analog intercom system is used for remote communication in the factory. However, experts and indoor and outdoor operation personnel usually fail to clarify problems purely through voice services. If experts cannot arrive at a site in case of a problem, photos were previously taken and backhauled to them for troubleshooting. Under such circumstances, relevant personnel may fail to collaborate efficiently to resolve problems in a timely manner.

The existing analog system is independent from the wired system.

In addition, due to factory expansion and the addition of new services, reserve, leakage, fire, traffic volume, and power consumption must be monitored in real time. However, monitoring points are geographically scattered or isolated by railways, rivers, and walls, making it difficult to dig ditches or build trays for cabling. Moreover, cabling in dangerous areas may lead to accidents because of electrical sparks. The wired system cannot meet the requirements of reconstruction projects that require a short construction period, as well as low installation and commissioning costs.

Additionally, Sinopec Jiujiang Company is using an intercom system of analog radio access technology, composed of two analog repeaters and several analog walkie-talkies. A single relay station is used for their communications. This kind of intercom system will be gradually outdated due to its low spectrum efficiency and high interference between frequencies. With the emergence of new central control rooms, existing intercom system using 16 frequencies cannot provide sufficient user groups to satisfy service requirements. Frequencies 0 to 13 are allocated to the factory's 14 workshops or departments, and frequencies 14 and 15 are used for communication throughout the entire factory, which have reached the system limit for providing user group resources. When complex operations such as system maintenance or new device startups are performed, user groups need to be created for cross-workshop communications using an improved wireless communication system. After the fuel type upgrade is implemented for eight million tons of fuel, six user groups will be created for six newly added workshops, which exceed the maximum capacity of the existing system.

Challenges faced with the analog trunking system

Finally, some personnel may miss inspection, be absent from work, or run inspections outside of the specified route, which generate safety risks. Inspectors cannot use existing inspection bars to take photos as evidence, making it difficult to ensure inspection quality. Moreover, when a problem occurs, outdoor operation personnel must climb a distillation tower dozens of meters high to verify a problem multiple times, which increases their workload.

Solution

Based on various service requirements and challenges, Sinopec Jiujiang Company compared multiple solutions from different providers and eventually selected Huawei's wireless intelligent factory solution because of its technical advancement, applicability, compatibility, and product maturity. Currently, two base stations have been deployed to provide services for branch company buildings, boiler power supply areas, low pressure workshops, catalyzing workshops, joint workshops, continuous reconstruction workshops, and coking workshops, all within an area of about 5 km2. Consequently, an LTE base station will be deployed to provide seamless network coverage in new workshops for the fuel type upgrade project. The bandwidth carried by a single sector in an LTE base station can reach 50 Mbit/s in the uplink and 100 Mbit/s in the downlink. With its broad bandwidth, data regarding reserve, fire, traffic volume, and power consumption can be backhauled; video surveillance can be performed on temporary construction sites, harbors for unloading fuel, surrounding production areas, and emission areas; trunk dispatching for emergencies can be implemented to improve production and service management.

eLTE Wireless Solution

In terms of dispatch and guidance for emergencies, Huawei first introduced the video intercom function to allow personnel to observe videos taken by outdoor operation personnel through handheld terminals. In this way, video conferences are connected to the dispatching system, and virtualized commands can be performed in an emergency commanding center to improve collaboration efficiency.

For data collection and video surveillance services, industrial instruments and cameras can be directly connected to the central control room to backhaul data or videos to corresponding service platforms through the customer-premises equipment (CPE). Quick deployment is implemented through onsite equipment that has been powered-on. No ditches are required for equipment installation. The existing 4G broadband network facilitates the monitoring of subsequent temporary sites. In addition, wireless networks have a flatter structure and higher efficiency of O&M and capacity expansion than wired networks.

To resolve the problem of insufficient analog intercoms and trunk groups, Huawei provides the digital wireless trunking system to improve spectrum efficiency. It supports a maximum of 1024 dispatch groups as well as 160 dispatch groups using a single cell to meet current service capacities and production communication requirements, with excellent compatibility for future capacity expansion. The trunking system operates using flexible terminal numbers. Different groups are provided to departments to effectively implement flexible group dispatching.

In terms of security and inspection, Huawei provides explosion-proof terminals against flammable and explosive gas in a refinery plant, reaching an anti-explosion level of Ex ib IIC T4. In addition, the terminals provide the positioning information of their carriers. It can not only help standardize the inspection process using a geographic information system (GIS), but can also quickly find operation personnel in emergencies. The terminals also support diversified functions and applications, such as temperature measurement, earthquake detection, radio frequency identification (RFID), inspection, sign-in or sign-out, and asset management.

Service Benefits

In September 2014, Huawei delivered the first-phase project of the LTE wireless broadband network, dispatch system, video conference system, video surveillance system, and storage and inspection of terminal devices. The network system covering branch company buildings, boiler power supply areas, and multiple workshops have been implemented and have fostered significant benefits.

Previously, experts and indoor and outdoor operation personnel had difficulty clarifying issues, but can now efficiently discuss and confirm issues through smooth high-definition (HD) video calls. For example, shift exchanges can be remotely implemented through video conferences initiated from the central control room and connected with handheld terminals carried by outdoor operation personnel, whereas they previously checked each indoor and outdoor operation personnel in operation rooms. The duration of the entire process has been reduced from 30 minutes to 5 minutes, significantly improving efficiency.

For example, using a network deployment project to cover 100 monitoring sites took about half a month to dig ditches for cabling and install equipment. Now it takes a maximum of two days to deploy an LTE network to monitor these sites. Flatter wireless network architecture allows O&M personnel to focus on base stations and access points, which improves O&M efficiency.

The original analog trunking dispatch system supports only 16 user groups, while the LTE trunking dispatch system supports a maximum of 1024 groups which can sufficiently satisfy requirements of factory dispatches and emergency commands. In addition, the new system provides error correction functions to improve voice quality, and the intercom system can improve security and prevent eavesdropping through multiple encrypted transmit signals.

Previously, outdoor inspection personnel needed to carry an inspection bar, flash light, camera, inspection terminals (for temperature measurement, earthquake detection, and RFID scanning), paper, and pencils. However, the inspection terminal integrates all of these functions so that the inspection personnel only need to carry an inspection terminal to complete an inspection task, which greatly increases personnel's satisfaction with operations. In addition, fake inspections, off-duty inspections, and missing inspections are completely prevented through a detailed record of inspection routes, instrument data, and onsite photos with the help of 5-tuple data confirmation (including personnel, time, location, data, and photos).

In the future, Sinopec Jiujiang Company will continue to expand its wireless broadband network construction to implement seamless network coverage for more mobile services. In addition, it will set up a cloud data center to implement virtualization, cloud computing, and other intelligent IT management, to further reduce energy consumption and improve resource utilization, and to build a more intelligent factory.

Customer Voice

Qin Weizhong, Manager of Sinopec Jiujiang Company, emphasized: "This system allows us to know onsite situations from the central control room, quickly make decision on production plans, and deliver corresponding commands, which are significantly beneficial for subsequent production management."