Process Simulation Software

Recent scientific developments have affected our world in many new and positive ways: a rising standard of living, critical medical advances, and fundamental insights into the functioning of the natural world. As our knowledge has expanded, so has the need to find ways to track and represent this information. For dynamic and multivariate systems, digital computing has proven to be a powerful tool. Software process simulations can calculate astonishingly complicated chains of effects, giving researchers and engineers a comparatively cheap way to explore different scenarios without having to risk physical assets or resources to do so.

A wide variety of processes can be replicated in a digital environment; basic chemical production, biological energy flows, weather systems, even complex industrial processes can be reproduced in process simulation software. This is specialized software that allows real world processes to be simulated on the computer


Using process simulation software

In the early days of process simulation, each piece of software would be built from scratch. A stack of punch cards, laboriously programmed with typewriters modified to punch holes in cards, would be fed into a machine, and any mistakes in the coding could mean days of lost work. Nowadays, process simulation software is quick, digital, and general purpose: it needs only to be provided with the conditions of the process being simulated in order to function. Many distributions include an easy-to-use software wizard which prompts the user for the information the simulation needs in order to create the digital model. For example, the first thing the software may ask for when setting up a new process simulation is for the user to select a list of chemicals that are used in the process.

Contemporary process simulator software distributions include a visual representation of the process being simulated. Serving as a living schematic of the industrial process, pieces and components of the process are added by the user. These bits of information may be as generalized as an abstracted energy stream, or as specific as a manufacturer’s model-number.

Once the process simulation has been built, it will need to be tested against real-world data to confirm that it is functioning correctly. Process simulation software provides the user the opportunity to add parameters to adjust for differences between theoretical and actual yields.


Advantages to using process simulations

Process simulation software can provide a number of benefits to users in industrial settings. One of the key benefits: the process simulation software acts as a visual aid for users who otherwise may not be able to view an entire plant or facility. For example, the Baytown Refinery in Texas, the tenth largest oil refinery in the world, covers 3,400 acres. There is no practical way to view the entire operation of this facility in person, and a digital abstraction can help provide an intuitive sense of the process.

Increased collaboration is another benefit of the process simulation software because this digital representation can be easily shared across an organization. Sending a file, or even collaborating in real-time with a cloud-synced process simulation, means personnel can perform useful work remotely. A production optimization specialist doesn’t need to be on site in order to make recommendations; they can simply demonstrate the changes in the process simulation software.

Because the functioning of the asset can be analyzed without making physical changes to the asset, process simulation software is invaluable for refinery optimization, value chain optimization and production optimization. Companies looking to maximize their margins, reduce asset failure, or increase environmental compliance can test process adjustments directly in the process simulation software, exploring a variety of options until they find the parameters that best fit their goals.


Beyond simulations

A company or organization that uses process simulation software can link this simulation into a live data stream from sensors on the assets being simulated. This simplifies the process of keeping the simulation up to date, as information about the actual functioning of the process is supplied in real-time.

The simulation doesn’t need to be a mere receiver of information; process simulation software may include integration with system controls, meaning changes made in the simulation can be directly applied to the process.

Beyond merely enabling a demonstration of the process as it exists, process simulation software can help companies make process improvements or find entirely new paths of production by making it easier and more affordable to test process variables.



How is process simulation software different from process simulator software?
These terms are synonymous. Technically, a simulation runs within a simulator, but since all process simulation software packages include the ability to both create a process simulation and to run a process simulation, the distinction is irrelevant.

What kind of processes can be simulated in process simulation software?
Many different kinds of processes can be modeled. Chemical engineers can simulate industrial production of chemicals; biologists can design bioreactors for biological molecules; oil refineries can perform refinery modeling. The list of process simulations that can be performed in process simulation software is growing by the day.

How is process simulation software related to digital twin technology?
Digital twin technology uses live data from an asset’s sensors to update a live model of an asset in digital twin software, while process simulation software does not necessarily track the actual asset in real-time. In addition, digital twin technology seeks to represent the physical aspects of the asset in software; process simulation software simply replicates the external function of the asset.