Plants Take a Long Look for Savings

Greater emphasis on lifecycle costs and diagnostics is paying dividends.

By Seán Ottewell, Editor at Large

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Emerson’s second success in France has come at the Total Petrochemicals site at Carling Saint Avold, where a Smart Wireless condition-monitoring system has been installed. It provides new temperature-measurement data, enabling Total to calculate changes over time in wall thickness of a boiler that supplies steam to a cracker.
Total engineers wanted to introduce new temperature-measurement points to help them better understand the condition of the boiler and anticipate when it might need to be replaced. By measuring the boiler walls’ internal and external temperatures and identifying heat loss, it’s possible to calculate the material’s resistance and infer its thickness.

“Our plant is more than 30 years old,” says Jerome Uszes, electricity control and regulation maintenance manager. “With the rising cost of copper and ageing existing wiring — corrosion, infiltration, armature degradation — finding alternative methods to carry data throughout the plant is becoming essential.”
Wireless connection of the additional measurement points eliminated the need to install around 1 km of new wiring, notes Emerson. Another benefit has been less need to move personnel into and around the at-risk areas, it adds.
Potent Partnerships
This year also has seen new cooperative efforts between vendors to leverage each other’s maintenance technologies.

For instance, Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, Wis., and Endress and Hauser, Reinach, Switzerland, are jointly introducing tools that allow faster system engineering, reduced risks and better protection of plant assets. The integration between Endress and Hauser’s field devices and Rockwell Automation’s Plantpax process automation system uses open, standard technology at every level. This, they say, cuts the time necessary to engineer a system to minutes while completely eliminating the need for special training on system setup. The tools also provide easier access to instrumentation diagnostics that always have been available at the instrumentation level but seldom used due to heavy engineering requirements.

With these extended diagnostic capabilities, operations and maintenance personnel are better able to monitor device performance, identify faults and take corrective actions for increased operational performance, say the firms.

A second tie-up is between Yokogawa Europe, The Hague, The Netherlands, and Rovsing Dynamics, Copenhagen, Denmark. The latter’s OPENpredictor for machinery health prediction now will be offered as an integrated part of Yokogawa’s VigilantPlant industrial automation offering. This link-up is said to provide a comprehensive solution to achieve what the two firms describe as best-in-class asset availability. Integrating dynamic operational data with predictive maintenance information, OPENpredictor condition-monitoring solutions offer automated fault diagnostics and predict lead time to inspection for rotating machinery.

Such business critical information helps users improve process uptime through the minimized downtime of critical machinery, thus increasing revenue while reducing operational risk and cost, they say.

Another Driver
Motors abound at plants but purchasing decisions too often don’t take into account LCC. However, it may be an apt time for a rethink, counsels an article in a recent issue of Baldor Solutions (, the in-house magazine of motor and drives maker Baldor Electric, Fort Smith, Ark.

It points out that as part of former President Bush’s Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, new regulations will come into force on December 19, 2010, to improve the efficiency of industrial electric motors. Provisions will require 201–500-hp motors to have minimum energy efficiencies and for the first time will mandate efficiencies for 1–200-hp motors, which are popular for close-coupled pumps.

Baldor notes that the purchase price of an industrial motor is only about 2% of what users ultimately spend. Energy accounts for 97% of the total expense. So, while the initial purchase price of a higher-efficiency motor may be greater, it will recover the costs within six to 12 months. The savings in electricity will continue year-after-year over the entire life of the motor. Thus, evaluating such a motor’s LCC should make the purchase decision easier. As the article asks: “While the new act doesn’t take effect until 2010, the question is why wait?”

Seán Ottewell is Editor at Large for Chemical Processing. You can e-mail him at
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