Procedural Automation (Exapilot)

Modular Procedural Automation (MPA) provides a flexible methodolgy to capture, optimize and retain procedural knowledge in a process plant while meeting requirements in  reliability, flexibility, and lifecycle costs.

Product Overview

Industry Issues with Procedural Control in Process Operations

Process plants of all types are dominated by procedural activities which are critical to operate safe and efficient plants. These procedural activities reside in, manual SOP's, legacy control systems and often undocumented operator knowledge that has been acquired through years of experience. With the high rate of senior operations personnel retiring, much of this knowledge is being lost to the new generation of engineers and operators. Inadequate availability of accurate procedures can lead to operation errors. With an emphasis on plants running at optimal efficiency and continuous vigilance on safety, it is critical that the operational knowledge and best practices are captured by the enterprise and are executed consistently and accurately.

Industry leaders have recognized that there is a need for a standard around automating procedures and have formed the ISA-106 committee whose purpose is to develop standards, recommended practices, and technical reports on the design and implementation of procedures for automating continuous process operations Yokogawa has been involved in this standardization effort and has developed a solution offering that address the issues covered in the emerging standard- Modular Procedural Automation.

Documenting and Driving Best Practices

Modular Procedural Automation combines consulting expertise with world class procedure control capabilities to:

  1. Capture, optimize, and retain, procedural knowledge and control in a process plant
  2. Implement procedures at appropriate level in a plant control system to meet procedure reliability and flexibility requirements
  3. Integrate procedures into operator interface and alarm system for improved situational awareness

Capabilities of Modular Procedural Automation

  1. Vigilant Procedure consulting and tools - Best in class tools, capabilities, & consulting expertise  of  embedding procedure implementation modules into the control system  architecture based on operational requirements.
  2. Knowledge Engineering - MPA consultants and engineers are experts at capturing and documenting currently used procedures whether they reside in a manual, legacy control system or in operator's heads.
  3. Modular Engineering – Standards based design based on the emerging ISA-106 standards work and development methodology assures that your procedural investment will remain reliable and pertinent to your operating staff.
  4. Advanced Decision Support Integration - Procedures are integrated into high performance HMI and alarm systems to provide operators a high level of situational awareness in all process conditions and states.
  5. Operator Simulation - MPA's value is enhanced by integration and deployment of an operator training system to train plant operators to initiate appropriate responses to abnormal conditions and efficient execution of process transitions


Exapilot Software

Exapilot disply image

Exapilot is an online navigation tool that guides operators step by step through plant operating procedures.

Even though production control systems automate most of an industrial plant's operations, operators are still required to manually intervene for non-routine processes such as plant start-ups/shutdowns and product load/grade/recipe changes. Start-ups and shutdowns may occur very infrequently, even just once in a few years. Product switchovers, on the other hand, can be an everyday occurrence.

Experienced operators know every step of these procedures, but what happens if no one like that is immediately available on site? Will other less experienced operators be able to cope when the unexpected occurs?

Exapilot navigates operators through each step of an operation and prevents them from making mistakes, and even issues timely alarms when a hazardous abnormality is detected in a process. The standardization of operations improves product quality, shortens production cycle time, and reduces transient product. This results in reduced utility costs and enables plants to operate with smaller inventories.Exapilot solves this problem. Exapilot takes the know-how of your best operators and transforms this into standardized procedural flowcharts that your operators can use to navigate flawlessly through an entire process.

By eliminating operator errors and production losses, efficiency is improved and total operating costs are reduced.

Since Exapilot was first released, over 1,000 licenses have been sold to companies all over the world, and the majority of users have come from the chemical, petrochemical, and oil & gas industries.

(1) Operating procedures represented as combinations of icons (during configuration)

Exapilot uses icons to represent standard plant operation elements. Just position and link the icons in a sequence to create a standard operating procedure. Create simple hierarchical sequences to represent complex procedures. Configuring Exapilot requires no special engineering skills.

Exapilot display

(2) Avoid omitting steps (during operations)

At each step in a process, a dialog is displayed on the screen to indicate what action an operator must take next. An interlock sequence can be configured to prevent operators from omitting a step.

(3) Automate DCS operation and monitoring

Procedures for opening valves, ramping, level checks, and starting/stopping pumps can be automated.

(4) Seamlessly connect with production control systems

Exapilot provides seamless connection to production control systems (PCS) via a standard OLE for Process Control (OPC) interface. No PCS engineering is required. Exapilot has been optimized for Yokogawa's CENTUM series PCS, but other companies' DCS and PLC systems are supported as well.

(5) Document standard operation procedures (SOP)

A workflow created with Exapilot can be printed out with a self-documentation function for use as a standard operating procedure (SOP).

(6) Use Exapilot as an operation simulator

By using the debugging function in trial mode, Exapilot can be used as an operation simulator. Plant data can be imported into Exapilot in real time to run simulations without disrupting actual plant operations.

(7) Make more effective use of your most skilled operators

The use of Exapilot to automate non-standard operations allows your most experienced operators to spend more time enhancing and optimizing operation procedures throughout your plant. This improves efficiency and reduces operating costs.

Exapilot Release Information

The latest Release Information

R4.02 (November, 2022)
  1. Multiple CPUs support
  2. Windows 10 Enterprise SAC (21H2) support
  3. Microsoft Office LTSC 2021 Software in CSP support

Revision 4.01 or earlier

R4.01 (April, 2022)
  1. Multi-run procedures function support
    New Windows Component: Switching Monitoring Procedure Control
    Message Component Filtering function enhancement
    Procedure Execution Status Display Component function enhancement
  2. Confirmation Message function enhancement
  3. Message Window addition for Tablet PC
  4. Error Handling enhancement
  5. Windows Server 2019 support
R3.99 (August, 2021)
  1. New operation environment support
    Windows 10 2019 LTSC (64-bit)
    Office 2019 (Volume License)
R3.98 (August, 2018)
  1. New operation environment support
    Windows Server 2016 Standard (64-bit)
  2. Yokogawa Virtualization platform support
  3. Event Driven unit procedure enhancement
R3.95 (January 2013)
  1. Windows 7 Professional Edition SP1 (32-bit) supported for Exapilot client only.
  2. Security function enhanced using Windows user authentication mode
  3. PCS output confirmation function enhanced.
  4. Operation comment input function added.
R3.90 (September 2011)
  1. New software environments added
    Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition SP1 (64-bit)
    Windows 7 Professional Edition SP1 (64-bit)
    Microsoft Office 2010
  2. Common IT security tool with CENTUM VP R5.01 added
    A user can select suitable security level from the standard or legacy model. These IT security levels are common throughout Yokogawa system products, and it enables Exapilot to have the same IT security as the CENTUM VP. (Exapilot R3.90's IT security tool is as the same as CENUM VP R5.01.)
R3.80 (September 2010)
  1. New self-documentation function (optional)
    Enables users to export all of Exapilot's main procedure settings (procedure flow, unit procedure definition information, system information, and additional comments) to a Microsoft Word file. This gives users greater freedom and convenience in how they use Exapilot data, allowing them, for example, to produce SOPs and management documents.
  2. Enhancements in builder window functions.
    New rich text format (RTF) editor, page setup, and grid line display functions give users increased flexibility in how they edit and print out Exapilot procedure flowcharts.
R3.70 (December 2009)
  1. Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista Business Edition SP2 support added
  2. IT security enhanced
  3. Operator error prevention functions added
R3.60.10 (May 2009)
  1. Sub-procedure online maintenance
  2. Windows Vista Business Edition SP2 support added Addition of ActiveX component message window component 2 for display of CENTUM VP HIS graphics in Windows Vista
R3.60 (August 2008)
  1. Support of CENTUM VP R4.01 added
  2. Matrix search unit procedure added
  3. Builder window function improved, for better operability
  4. Support of Microsoft Windows Vista Business Edition SP1 added
R3.50 (November 2007)
  1. Comment display and copy functions for main procedure view in builder window added
  2. Search function for connector unit procedure added
  3. Intelligent mouse function for builder window added
  4. Support of daylight savings time added
  5. Active-X component, MS-Excel link unit procedure, and MS-Excel add-in support with Microsoft Excel 2007 added
R3.40 (February 2006)
  1. Hierarchically arranged user procedure module added
  2. Matrix variables added
  3. Parameter declaration unit procedure function improved
  4. Local variable access from other units enabled
  5. OPC server/cache read method adopted
  6. Addition of user-created application icons to palette tab enabled ActiveX components and MS-Excel add-in components added
  7. ActiveX components (simplified trend/chart, data input function, sorting & coloring of grid components, simultaneous execution of button components, area monitoring function by monitoring area variables) added
R3.30 (January 2005)
  1. Operation and builder windows enhanced
  2. Utility functions enhanced
  3. Now compatible with TSE (remote operation) functions
  4. Advanced alarm function option enhanced
  5. MS-Excel link unit procedure option added
  6. ActiveX components added
R3.20 (January 2004)
  1. ActiveX components and MS-Excel add-in components added
  2. Unit procedure (regression calculation) added
  3. Unit procedure options (VB script unit and e-mail communication) added
  4. Unit procedure functions (confirmation message, case judgment, area judgment, enhanced search and replacement) enhanced
  5. 21 CFR Part11 compliant inspection evidence function added
  6. New security function added
  7. Support of Exaopc OPC server redundancy function added
R3.01 (March 2003)
  1. Windows XP support added
  2. Advanced alarm function enhanced
  3. Standard and optional unit procedures added

Revision 2

R2.20 (November 2002)
  1. Dynamic message, dynamic generic name, and text box with hyperlink functions added
  2. Advanced alarm function option added
R2.10 (April 2002)
  1. Exapilot package names changed to Professional, Standard, Office, and For HIS
  2. New expansion and multi-run options added
  3. Event wait, message window, watchdog timer, and graphics features added
R2.01 (May 2001)
  1. Windows 2000 support added

Revision 1

R1.10 (February 2001)
  1. Security, multiple OPC server connection, historical report, procedure flow printing, character variable, and DCS tag existence-checking functions enhanced
R1.03 (January 2000)
  1. Exapilot Lite and Super Lite added to package lineup
R0 (January 2000)
  1. Exapilot operation efficiency improvement package for Windows NT released



Samsung Petrochemical Co. Ltd. (SPCL), a major Korean petrochemical company, produces 700,000 tons per year of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) at its Daesan plant. PTA, a white powder substance that is produced by oxidizing and refining para-xylene, is a precursor to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a polyester material that has excellent thermal resistance and wear resistance and is widely used as a substitute for natural cotton fibers and in film packaging, beverage bottles, tire cords, paints, adhesives, and other applications.


ADNOC Gas selected Yokogawa's Exapilot modular procedural automation for safe and efficient operation.
MPA based on the company's expertise is a step toward digitalization plant operation.


INPEX Corporation (INPEX) is Japan's biggest oil and gas development company and is involved in all aspects of this business, from research to exploration, production, and sales. INPEX is engaged in projects all over the world, in a total of 29 countries, including Japan, where it operates a gas production plant near Oyazawa, a town in Niigata prefecture.

  • Exapilot was built up as e-SOP system based on the standard operating procedures and the know-how of experienced operators.
  • e-SOP system improved the quality and productivity in the performance chemical plant in China.
  • Based on a careful review of all operational procedures and operator roles and configured new SOPs in Exapilot.
  • As a result, SFC has been able to reduce operator workload, improve product quality, and reduce production losses.
  • At the company's Ulsan resin plant, six Exaquantum servers were connected to CENTUM CS 3000 and other vendor's systems.
  • KKPC needed to expand its SBC capabilities and improve production efficiency at its plants.
  • Exapilot contributes to safety, reduces cost, and retains operational know-how.
  • Exapilot smoothly starts up and shuts down the world's biggest experimental distillation unit.
  • Data visualization is the key, giving operators a complete understanding of what is is going on in the process, in real time.
  • Up to 90% of all manual tasks can now be carried out automatically.
  • Increasing productivity by means of partially automated start-up and load change procedures.
  • Configuration of complicated procedures in Exapilot leads to operational excellence.
  • DENKA wanted to standardize the operation, reduce workload and prevent operator errors.
  • Stable regeneration of butane driers and effective start-up of sulfur recovery plant.
  • Exapilot contributes to operational consistency and procedure management in large refinery plant.
  • Exapilot improves operations and reduces energy use at PTT Khanom Gas Separation Plant #4.
  • This is a real solution package and a good tool for the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle to achieve operational excellence in the plant.
  • Exapilot is Effectively Applied to Polypropylene Plant and Optimizes Operation, Cost Savings.
  • By using Yokogawa's Exapilot, Safripol were able to eliminate product variations and kept the operations consistent.
  • Kaneka Corporation has urgently needed to implement countermeasures that would reduce this facility's energy costs.
  • Optimization of control strategy helps BTG plant save energy and operate more efficiently.
  • Exapilot was introduced to maximize operational efficiency at an experimental refining facility.
  • To prevent operator errors, it was essential to standardize operating procedures.

This paper shows how to improve distillation operations by focusing on procedure automation. It will review the importance of using procedures in distillation operations and highlights the collaboration work underway between Fractionation Research Inc. (FRI) and Yokogawa Corporation to improve procedural operations.


Operational error is the single biggest reason for unscheduled shutdowns in process plants, causing several millions of dollars in damages and losses per year. Combine this with an aging skilled workforce leaving the work place, with inexperienced people to replace them, and there is no doubt that process plants face a challenging problem.


Yokogawa has come a long way in making its message clear to the world of process automation. Last year, the company embarked on a full-scale global marketing campaign to make customers aware of the company's focus on system reliability, security, dependability, and robustness. Dubbed "Vigilance", the campaign created a unified message for the company and greatly helped expand awareness of the Yokogawa brand and corporate philosophy.


The world of process automation is governed by procedures. While we like to refer to the process industries as being largely "continuous", this could not be further from the truth. Process manufacturing is constantly in flux.


Large process industry companies have recently started building plants with world-class safety and profitability to reinforce their competitive edge in the global market. As for plant operations, support functions for improving operators' plant operation skills and for extending operators' maximum capability are required to the DCS so that an operator can expand the area of plant monitoring or operate a plant with higher cost- consciousness.

Yokogawa Technical Report

In 1999, Yokogawa Electric Corporation formed an alliance with Shell Global Solutions International B.V. (SGSI) in Advanced Process Control (APC), and both companies have since jointly developed products. This alliance successfully combined SGSI's experience gained through more than 800 projects in more than 30 years and Yokogawa's great deal of experience with the process control market, and strengthened the scheme to provide the APC technology.


In recent years, safety and profitability have become ever more important in the process industry due to fierce global competition. Greater emphasis is being placed on highly efficient plant operation for reducing the increasing energy bill.

Yokogawa Technical Report

Recently, standardization of procedural automation of manual operations has been promoted mainly by the International Society of Automation (ISA), and the functional requirements necessary for automation are being studied by the ISA106 committee in the US.

Yokogawa Technical Report

For a coal fired power generation plant (hereafter referred to as "BTG facilities," in which "BTG" stands for boiler, steam turbine, and generator) supplying power to a large-scale production plant, the CO2 emissions from such facilities are a critical issue today.

Yokogawa Technical Report

Remarkable progress in information technology has led to open architecture systems and networking in the manufacturing industry. In such industry, remote monitoring systems based on public communication lines or the Internet, and or collaboration of control, information, and corporate systems based on standardized interfaces such as OLE for Process Control (OPC) are now widely used via networks.


Due to emerging competitors from the rapidly growing countries such as India and China and the global economic downturn triggered by the Lehman shock, many companies in the process industries are struggling to survive the severe global competition.


July 2011

Process plants are run according to operational procedures. These procedures consist of a set of tasks that are executed in a consistent manner to achieve a specific objective, such as starting up, shutting down or transitioning a unit as part of making a product. 


Process plants require operational procedures in order to produce products. These procedures consist of a set of tasks that are executed in a consistent manner to achieve a specific objective such as starting up or shutting down, or transitioning to a different product. The level of detail, purpose and frequency of use of these procedures varies by process, company and site—but in all cases these procedures should be the basis for plant operations.


ARC believes that by implementing procedural automation, many process plants can minimize variability to help ensure smooth, efficient, and safe state transitions.


Manual operations live on and even thrive in largely automated process plants, and they are often the cause of safety incidents.

By Maurice Wilkins, VP Strategic Technology Marketing Center, Yokogawa Corporation of America
Marcus Tennant, Senior Principal Technology Strategist, Yokogawa Corporation of America




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