Chemical Engineering Science, Vol.155, 153-166, 2016
Methodology for evaluating modular production concepts
A more flexible and efficient production of chemicals is a requirement for further strengthening the competitiveness in the chemical industry. An approach proposed to,achieve this is modular plant design. It offers new opportunities for the supply chain and combines production flexibility and efficiency. However, modular facilities are expected to be built at comparably small scales and loss of economy of scale is a major concern. There is a need to know under which conditions a modular plant design is a beneficial option. Addressing this it would be helpful to have a methodology that includes modeling of production scenarios in a holistic way including supply chain and process simulation and thus allowing a meaningful evaluation. For that reason we developed such a methodology, using the F-3 factory concept as an example for modular plant design. Demonstrating the methodology's feasibility an exemplary implementation in a software tool was established enabling comparative simulation and evaluation of batch, continuous and the modular F-3 factory production. As unique feature supply chain and process simulation is combined in a single software implementation allowing for statistical analysis to automatically evaluate the economic performance of production concepts under different boundary conditions of the process and the supply chain. The incorporation of those boundary conditions is usually not part of process simulation and goes beyond state of the art approaches. In this paper, the methodology implemented will be presented and the application will be demonstrated using two production scenarios as examples. For the examples investigated, it was found that compared to the conventional production concept the modular F-3 factory concept is economically robust concerning the choice of design capacity with regard to diverse market conditions. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.