Glossary

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Advanced Process Control (APC): techniques and technologies implemented within industrial process control systems. APCs are usually deployed optionally and in addition to basic process controls. Basic process controls are designed and built with the process itself to facilitate basic operation, control, and automation requirements. APCs are typically added subsequently to address particular performance or economic improvement opportunities in the process. Process control (basic & advanced) normally implies the process industries, which includes chemicals, petrochemicals, oil & mineral refining, food processing, pharmaceuticals, power generation, etc. These industries are characterized by continuous processes and fluid processing, as opposed to discrete parts manufacturing. The term process automation is essentially synonymous with process control. Process controls (basic & advanced) are implemented within the process control system, which may mean a DCS, PLC, and/or SCADA. Advanced controls may reside in either the DCS or the SCADA, depending on the application. Basic controls reside in the DCS and its subsystems, including PLCs.

Alpha Testing: first end-to-end testing of a product to ensure that it meets business requirements and functions correctly. It is typically performed by internal employees and it is conducted in a laboratory or stage environment. It ensures that the product really works and does everything that it is supposed to do. Alpha tests can be conducted using both “white box” and “black box” methods. In a “white box” setting, testers can “look inside” the product to see what is happening during the testing, which is typically not possible in a production setting; conversely, a “black box” test simply provides the inputs and confirms that the outputs are returned as expected.

Algorithm: finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve a class of specific problems or to perform a computation. They are always unambiguous and are used as specifications for performing calculations, data processing, automated reasoning, and other tasks. In contrast, a heuristic is a technique used in problem solving that uses practical methods and/or various estimates in order to produce solutions that may not be optimal but are sufficient given the circumstances.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. The term may also be applied to any machine that exhibits traits associated with the human mind, such as learning and problem-solving.

Beta Testing: opportunity for real users to use a product in a production environment to uncover any bugs or issues before a general release. It is the final round of testing before releasing a product to a wide audience. The objective is to uncover as many bugs or usability issues as possible in a controlled setting. Beta testers are “real” users and conduct their testing in a production environment running on the same hardware, networks, etc., as the final release. This also means that it is the first chance for full security and reliability testing because these tests cannot be conducted in a laboratory or stage environment. Beta tests can either be “open” or “closed”. In an “open” test, anyone can use the product and is usually presented with some messaging that the product is in beta stage of development and is given a method for submitting feedback. In “closed” beta, the testing is limited to a specific set of testers, which may be composed of current customers, early adopters, and/or paid beta testers.

Biopolymers: polymers that are produced by, or derived from, living organisms, such as plants and microbes, rather than from petroleum, the traditional source of polymers. They consist of monomeric units that are covalently bonded to form larger molecules. There are 3 main classes of biopolymers, classified according to the monomers used and the structure of the biopolymer formed: polynucleotides, polypeptides, and polysaccharides. Biopolymers have various applications such as in the food industry, manufacturing, packaging, and biomedical engineering. The primary sources of biopolymers are renewable.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2): acidic, colorless gas with a density about 53% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide molecules consist of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It is a naturally occurring gas and a by-product of burning fossil fuels and biomass, as well as land-use changes and other industrial processes. It is the principal anthropogenic greenhouse gas that affects the earth’s radiative balance. It is the reference gas against which other greenhouse gases are measured and, therefore, has a Global Warming Potential of 1.

Carbon Footprint: total amount of greenhouse gas emissions (including, carbon dioxide & methane) that are generated by an individual, event, organization, service, place, and/or product. It is expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e, CO2eq, or CO2-e).

Circular Economy: model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing & recycling existing materials & products as long as possible. In this way, the life-cycle of products is extended. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. When a product reaches end of life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible. These can be productively used over again, thereby creating further value. It is a departure from the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern, relying on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy.

Cradle: raw material extraction and processing.

Digital Twin: virtual representation of an object or system that spans its life-cycle, is updated from real-time data, and uses simulation, machine learning, and reasoning to help decision-making.

Distributed Control System (DCS): platform for automated control and operation of a plant or industrial process. It combines the following into a single automated system: human machine interface (HMI), logic solvers, historian, common database, alarm management, and a common engineering suite.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): type of software that organizations use to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management & compliance, and supply chain operations. A complete ERP suite also includes enterprise performance management, software that helps plan, budget, predict, and report on an organization’s financial results.

European Green Deal: set of policy initiatives by the European Commission with the overarching aim of making Europe climate neutral by 2050.

Gigaton (Gt): unit of mass. 1 metric gigaton = 1,000,000,000,000 kilograms (SI base unit) or 1,000,000,000 metric tons.

Global Warming Potential (GWP): heat absorbed by any greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, as a multiple of the heat that would be absorbed by the same mass of carbon dioxide (CO2). GWP is 1 for CO2. For other gases it depends on the gas and the time frame. Carbon dioxide equivalent is calculated from GWP. It can be measured in weight or concentration. For any amount of any gas, it is the amount of CO2 which would warm the earth as much as that amount of that gas. Thus, it provides a common scale for measuring the climate effects of different gases. Calculated as GWP multiplied by amount of the other gas.

Greenhouse Effect: entrapment of heat within the earth’s surface-troposphere system due to the absorption of infrared radiation by greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG): gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of infrared radiation emitted by the earth’s surface, the atmosphere, and clouds. This property causes the greenhouse effect. Water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and ozone are the primary greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere.

High Performance Computing (HPC): computing systems with extremely high computational power that are able to solve hugely complex and demanding problems, process data, and perform complex calculations at high speeds. One of the best-known types of HPC solutions is the supercomputer. A supercomputer contains thousands of computer nodes that work together to complete one or more tasks. This is called parallel processing. It is similar to having thousands of PCs networked together, combining computing power to complete tasks faster.

Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS): type of software that allows samples and associated data to be effectively managed. By using a LIMS, a laboratory can automate workflows, integrate instruments, and manage samples & associated data. Additionally, reliable results can be produced more quickly and data can be tracked from sequencing runs over time and across experiments to improve efficiency.

Industry 4.0: current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, including cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, cognitive computing, and creating the smart factory.

International Resin Identification Coding System (RIC): set of symbols appearing on plastic products identifying the plastic resin out of which the product is made. It was developed in 1988 by the Society of the Plastics Industry (now the Plastics Industry Association) in the USA, but since 2008 it is administered by ASTM International. In its original form, the symbols used as part of the RIC consist of arrows that cycle clockwise to form a triangle that encloses a number. The number refers to the type of plastic used in the product: Resin Identification Code 1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET) (beverage bottles, other packaging); Resin Identification Code 2 high-density polyethylene (HDPE) (bottles, cups); Resin Identification Code 3 polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (pipes, flooring); Resin Identification Code 4 low-density polyethylene (LDPE) (plastic bags, tubing); Resin Identification Code 5 polypropylene (PP) (auto parts, food containers); Resin Identification Code 6 polystyrene (PS) (styrofoam); Resin Identification Code 7 other plastics (acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate, polylactic acid). A summarized table is available here.

Internet of Things (IoT): a network of physical objects that are connected to the Internet so that they can exchange data and information in order to improve productivity, efficiency, services, and more.

Machine Learning (ML): branch of artificial intelligence and computer science which focuses on the use of data and algorithms to imitate the way that humans learn, gradually improving its accuracy.

Manufacturing Execution System (MES): computerized system used in the manufacturing industry to track and document the transformation of raw materials to finished goods. It provides information that helps manufacturing decision makers understand how current conditions on the plant floor can be optimized to improve production output. MES works in real time to enable the control of multiple elements of the production process (for example, inputs, personnel, machines, and support services). It may operate across multiple function areas, for example: management of product definitions across the product life-cycle, resource scheduling, order execution & dispatch, production analysis & downtime management for overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), product quality, or materials track & trace. MES creates the “as-built” record, capturing the data, processes and outcomes of the manufacturing process. This can be especially vital in regulated industries, such as food & beverage or pharmaceutical, where documentation, proof of processes, events, and actions may be required.

Material tracking (module): mathematical material tracking algorithm that uses real-time process values to track continuous movement of liquid, powder, and granular material by segmenting and characterizing material into discrete quantities.

Monomers: molecule that can react together with other monomer molecules to form a larger polymer chain or three-dimensional network in a process called polymerization. All monomers have the capacity to form chemical bonds to at least two other monomer molecules.

Open Platform Communications (OPC): interoperability standard for the secure and reliable exchange of data in the industrial automation space and in other industries. It is platform independent and ensures the seamless flow of data among devices from multiple vendors. The OPC Foundation is responsible for the development and maintenance of this standard. More information is available here.

Patent: an exclusive right granted for an invention. In other words, it is an exclusive right to a product or a process that generally provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. There are 4 types of patents: utility patent, provisional patent, design patent, and plant patent.

Petrochemicals: chemical products obtained from petroleum by refining. Some chemical compounds that are made from petroleum are also obtained from other fossil fuels (such as, coal or natural gas) or renewable sources (such as, maize, palm fruit, or sugar cane). The two most common petrochemical classes are olefins (including, ethylene & propylene) and aromatics (including, benzene, toluene, & xylene isomers).

Plant Historian: type of software that retrieves and logs production and process data, by time. It is also referred to as a Process Historian or Operational Historian. As opposed to relational database systems, Process Historians write data to time-series databases.

Platform-independence: software that can run on a variety of hardware platforms or software architectures. Platform-independent software can be used in many different environments, requiring less planning and translation across an enterprise.

Polycarbonates (PC): group of thermoplastic polymers containing carbonate groups in their chemical structures. PCs that are used in engineering are strong, tough materials, and some grades are optically transparent. They are easily worked, molded, and thermoformed. Because of these properties, PCs find many applications. PCs do not have a unique RIC and are identified as “other plastics” [7] on the RIC list. Products made from PC can contain the precursor monomer bisphenol A (BPA).

Polyethylene or Polyethene (PE): most common plastic in use today. It is a polymer primarily used for packaging (plastic bags, plastic films, geomembranes, and containers). As of 2017, over 100 million tonnes of PE resins are being produced annually, accounting for 34% of the total plastics market. Many kinds of PE are known, with most having the chemical formula (C2H4)n. PE is usually a mixture of similar polymers of ethylene, with various values of n. It can be low-density or high-density. PE is usually a thermoplastic, but it can be modified to become thermosetting instead, for example, in cross-linked PE.

Polymers: raw materials that are used to produce plastic products. Polymers are large molecules made up of long chains or networks of smaller molecules called monomers. Natural polymers include silk, hair, proteins, DNA, etc. Synthetic (man-made) polymers include polyethylene, polypropylene, polyester, polystyrene, polyamides, etc.

Polymerization: process in which relatively small molecules, called monomers, combine chemically to produce a very large chain-like or network molecule, called a polymer. The monomer molecules may be all alike, or they may represent two, three, or more different compounds.

Polypropylene or Polypropene (PP): thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications. It is produced via chain-growth polymerization from the monomer propylene. It belongs to the group of polyolefins and is partially crystalline and non-polar. Its properties are similar to PE, but it is slightly harder and more heat resistant. It is a white, mechanically rugged material and has a high chemical resistance. Bio-PP is the bio-based counterpart of PP. PP is the second-most widely produced commodity plastic (after PE). In 2019, the global market for PP was worth $126.03 billion.

Programmable Logic Controller (PLC): industrial computer that has been adapted for the control of manufacturing processes, such as assembly lines, machines, robotic devices, or any activity that requires high reliability, ease of programming, and process fault diagnosis. PLCs can range from small modular devices with tens of inputs and outputs (I/O), in a housing integral with the processor, to large rack-mounted modular devices with thousands of I/O, and which are often networked to other PLC and SCADA systems. They can be designed for many arrangements of digital and analog I/O, extended temperature ranges, immunity to electrical noise, and resistance to vibration & impact. Programs to control machine operation are typically stored in battery-backed-up or non-volatile memory. A PLC is an example of a hard real-time system since output results must be produced in response to input conditions within a limited time, otherwise unintended operation will result.

Resin: in polymer chemistry and materials science, it is a solid or highly viscous substance of plant or synthetic origin that is typically convertible into polymers. Resins are usually mixtures of organic compounds.

Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA): control system architecture comprising computers, networked data communications, and graphical user interfaces for high-level supervision of machines and processes. It also covers sensors and other devices, such as programmable logic controllers, which interface with process plant or machinery.

Sustainability: focus is on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept of sustainability is composed of 3 pillars: economic, environmental, and social—also known informally as profits, planet, and people.

Ton (t): unit of mass. 1 metric ton = 1,000 kilograms (SI base unit).

Workflow (module): configurable workflow module captures set events and data relating to batch production from initial creation through quality testing and packaging with the capability to interact with plant operators where defined processes require data, approval or other intervention.


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