How Many More Months Will It Run?

Technology bolsters plants' quest to boost uptime.

By Seán Ottewell, Editor at Large

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This simplified shutdown planning and reduced resource requirements significantly; it cut overall time to commission to just one week from two weeks, giving the company a whole week of extra production.

“By using AMS Suite to drive the transmitter output we were able to test the trip system in parallel with other work that was going on. This shaved time off the overall schedule,” says Paul Young, INEOS Chlor automation manager.

For Emerson, the future of asset optimization very much revolves around wireless-based solutions. However, even though traditional concerns about the technology are fading, hurdles still must be overcome.

Stuart Harris, general manager of Emerson’s Plant Asset Management business, Eden Prairie, Minn., echoes Wil Chin’s thoughts when it comes to getting the technology message across: “Sometimes we talk about the customer’s wireless epiphany. Here, they start with a particular issue, for example pressure or temperature measurement. They then gain in confidence and realize that other issues drive reliability and interest in wireless begins to snowball. That’s the huge advantage of wireless technology: it is inherently scalable. Getting started is simple. You can get experience with just a few points and then move up in an extremely scalable manner.”

Two new product launches emphasize the importance of wireless in today’s asset management market: the 475 Field Communicator and the CSI 9210 Machinery Health Transmitter (Figure 1).

“The 475 device has moved earlier versions such as the 275 and 375 from device configuration into field diagnostics, for example, valve diagnostics — the sort of thing engineers want to do in the field. That’s one of the big step changes,” says Harris.

The CSI 9210 is a wireless device that complements traditional portable analyzers and traditionally expensive online monitoring. “Essentially it provides a great opportunity at a price not achievable before. Remember that it doesn’t replace portable walkround technology but augments it. It is the wireless aspect that is the big enabler for this technology,” he adds.

Harris points out that Emerson also is working in many other uptime-focused applications such as pressure and bearing temperatures. “This is very exciting: wireless technology opens up a whole range of opportunities to monitor in places you couldn’t before, for example cooling-tower fans and settling-pond agitators. Down the road, there will be a lot of other wireless-based diagnostic devices, too — for example to monitor corrosion.”

Condition Management Is Key
“The future is condition management because it helps move from reactive or preventive operations to a proactive and predictive environment,” says Kim Custeau, an Orange Co., Calif.-based consultant with Invensys Process Systems (IPS), London, U.K. “While there are many technologies that provide basic condition monitoring, it is field device management and the new breed of intelligent tools that enable condition management to improve asset performance in order to achieve specific business objectives.”

IPS considers that condition management has three phases: collecting information, which is comparable to traditional condition monitoring; analyzing information to spot trends and areas requiring action; and acting on the results. Where condition monitoring focuses on gathering plant-level data and making them available as information, condition management goes the next step, advancing information to knowledge and action.

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