Who says China's chemical industry is inefficient and outdated? US engineer Emerson has won a contract to digitally automate a BP chemicals plant in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, which potentially makes it the world's most efficient in its category, the company boasts.

Emerson will engineer and manage the automation project, using the company's PlantWeb digital architecture to network “smart” devices around around the plant. The aim is to achieve optimum plant control and continuously gather diagnostics data that can be used for predictive maintenance.

That means personnel can use the data to correct equipment and process issues before they can interrupt production.

bpzhuhai.jpgAs the main instrument vendor, Emerson will be responsible for the detailed design, including the engineering design, and implementation of the new digital architecture.

To cater for China's chemicals sector, Emerson already has a chemical centre of excellence in Pudong, Shanghai.

The Zhuhai plant is 85% owned by BP and the remainder by Fu Hua Group. It makes purified terephthalic acid, a key raw material in the manufacture of polyester fibre, resin and film. The plant, which went into full production in 2003, has helped China's textile sector reduce its past heavy dependence on foreign PTA suppliers.

The $360m Zhuhai facility has been designed to minimise its environmental impact, reducing energy consumption and waste compared to more conventional plant design.

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