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Modular Process Case Studies

Automated Batching System Improves Chemical Plant Operations


CLIENT: Fortune 500 Chemical Plant Client
INDUSTRY: Automotive Components



Chemical plant mixing systems integrated with intricate multi-stage batch control system, and a high level of communications, for real time changes and continual improvement. 


    • Multiple industrial chemical plant automated batching systems create chemical treatment dips for automotive components
    • Conversion of manual process to automated mixing system in a new facility
    • Multi-stage batch mixing systems featuring 100+ recipes
    • True batch control system integrated with Wonderware InBatch Software for flexible batching solution
    • Class I, Group D, Division 1 hazardous area for highly flammable chemicals
    • Dual continuous process systems and various batching systems
    • High dispersion specialty mixer for water, salt and solvent solution


    • Hazardous chemical handling and area classification zones within chemical plant
    • Intricate programming between HMI, Batch Controller, PLC Controller and manufacturing equipment
    • High level recipe management system with flexibility simplified for future changes and additions
    • In-depth training provided for plant staff, line operators and process engineers for long-term system success
    • Formula storage management for a high number of mixtures being created daily


The client had previously hired a general contractor who had identified a mechanical and electrical contractor to bid on the job. EPIC was hired by the mechanical contractor to complete the process design and batch controls work. EPIC and the two contractors submitted a competitive bid and were awarded the project as a group.

EPIC studied the client provided P&ID’s carefully revising and improving them. The updated P&ID’s were used to assist the mechanical and electrical contractors with design. EPIC and our partners included the following elements in the submitted bid package:

    • Hazardous area classification (HAZOP) study and line evaluation
    • Wonderware InBatch true batching control system integration for flexible batching solution to handle a large number of evolving product formulas and improve product consistency
    • New batch manufacturing systems and two continuous production systems
    • Fourteen storage tanks hold various formulas leaving the batch mixing systems before dips are delivered to the production line
    • Wonderware InTouch HMI and PLC controller


hazardous area classification study was completed on the proposed equipment layout. It was determined that several of the batch mixing systems, and both continuous mixing systems, would be contained in a Class 1 Group D Division 1 hazardous materials room. This recommendation was based on the space available for the new system, the nature of the chemicals present in the lines, and the proximity of leak sources to equipment and totes. Everything in the hazardous room was made explosion proof and has intrinsically safe electrical wiring.

Several other automated batching systems were installed outside the hazardous materials room. A new hazardous materials storage area was designed and completed. Piping to the production line from the batch mixing system was engineered and installed.

EPIC completed the process design work and assisted with the mechanical and electrical design. The programming and control panels were provided by EPIC. Controls for the true batching system were complicated by the PLC controller communicating with both the HMI and InBatch controller, located on a server. The batch system controller also communicates directly with the HMI.

The Wonderware InBatch controller accurately controls, and flexibly manages, the various formulas used by the chemical plant. Some of the key benefits of the Wonderware InBatch software include:

    • Optimized throughput and maximized equipment utilization
      • Multiple batches executed simultaneously, with added features for shared equipment and connections
      • Redundant batch server option
    • High flexibility in recipe procedure and material formulation changes
      • Batch Markup Language (Batch ML) and standard based recipe Import/Export
      • Comprehensive electronic batch record (EBR) and reporting capabilities
    • Extended ISA 88 with Connection and Transfer Management
    • Enhanced application capabilities with ArchestrA System Platform integration, enabling end-to-end production genealogy
    • Lower lifecycle costs and increased reliability by support of Microsoft Hyper-V platforms and virtualization technologies
    • Control system independent via state interface and DA servers

All of the batch mixing systems, and one of the continuous process systems, handle changing recipes. Batch recipes change and update often, with over one hundred different recipes existing during install.

Liquids leaving the batch manufacturing system are transported directly to the production line or stowed in one of fourteen storage tanks. Large numbers of storage tanks are necessary to allow flexibility in the batch chemical production. The InBatch controller controls the raw material inputs, batch mixing process and utilization of storage tanks. This system coordinates the entire process and allows the client to easily track where each chemical formulation is located.

An extended start-up was performed with the new process systems. Water was used to test all the fail scenarios, proving controls reliability and longevity in a low-cost manner without consuming chemicals or producing waste. Full testing was also completed with chemical ingredients, and high quality and repeat-ability were proven before the system was commissioned.

EPIC provided extensive training to: plant personnel, maintenance and line operators, chemical plant engineers and process control managers (on physical equipment, servers and software). A desktop program was installed on computers for the key process engineer and production staff so they could edit recipes and create queues for the batch mixing system operator directly. This improved communication from the process and plant engineers to the line operators. The operator can see the pre-scheduled list when he starts the line, and ensure the correct products are being made.


    • Fully automated batch controls solution of a previously manual process
    • Improved safety and reduced risk for line operators
    • Higher accuracy and consistency of production formulation
    • Improved mixing and tracking ability through the batch controller and desktop recipe editor/batch scheduler
    • Chemical plant independence to easily change future formulas and batching schedule

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