Project Synopsis

Develop a predictive process model in Excel using VBA to study the effects of equipment (tanks) removal on the process for a specialty chemicals manufacturing facility.

Project Summary

Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted by a national producer of specialty chemicals to evaluate the removal and possible replacement of two (2) process run tanks for seismic reasons at a northwest US facility. The existing tanks are to be removed because they were unsuitable, and PROCESS was asked to evaluate the impact on operations of simply removing them from service.

Two PROCESS personnel visited the plant to develop the background information and detailed project scope. Parameters of operations were established, requirements for a simulation were developed, and the detailed scope and software design specifications were collected and summarized, with the client signing off on the design document before software programming began. Excel was selected for client convenience, as the client had already developed a basic model for the study, but the client needed confirmation and more predictive ability than was available from the in-house basic model. VBA was used to optimize processing speed and performance when the additional model requirements were known.

After a week of programming was complete, the client found additional requirements not previously provided to PROCESS and made major changes to the scope and design of the software model. PROCESS was able to adapt to the changes, but instead of a write-once-to-completion project, the approach became iterative. PROCESS provided a model to the client, the client would find issues or additional requirements and provide feedback, whereupon PROCESS would revise the model to meet the latest requirements. This iterative method eventually converged in a final model that addressed all the client’s requirements, while providing flexibility and more information than the client’s original model. The client’s original model expected one mode of failure if the run tanks were removed (tank not ready yet). PROCESS provided additional value beyond the original scope by determining that another failure mode existed (tank overflow) that the client had not anticipated.

PROCESS also produced a complete report on this work, covering the design source information, model design and operation, a thumb drive copy of the final model for record and backup purposes, and delivered the report to the client at the end of the project.

Industry Type

Specialty Chemicals Manufacturing


Utilized Skills

  • Process modeling in Excel
  • Process evaluation.

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