• plantwide control;
  • economic operation;
  • bottleneck;
  • capacity constraint control;
  • override control

Systematic plantwide control system design for economically optimal operation of the ethyl benzene process over a large throughput range is studied. As throughput is increased, constraints progressively become active with the highest number of active constraints at maximum throughput. An economic plantwide control system (CS1) is designed for operation at this most constrained operating point using a novel “top-down” pairing approach with higher prioritization to the economic objectives over regulatory objectives. This structure is adapted for near optimal low throughput operation with constraints that go inactive taking up additional economic variable control. For comparison, a conventional plantwide control structure (CS2) with the throughput manipulator at a fresh feed and “bottom-up” pairing for the control objectives is also synthesized. Four overrides are needed in CS2 to handle the hard equipment capacity constraints at maximum throughput. Rigorous dynamic simulations show that CS1 is dynamically and economically significantly superior to CS2. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 59: 1996–2014, 2013