Integrated digital field networks are increasingly popular but pose particular safety and security risks. Fortunately, a number of parallel activities are underway to make integration between automation and business systems effective, safe and secure.
For maintenance and condition-monitoring, wireless technology offers much more than just reducing or eliminating costs. However, wireless also requires an integrated infrastructure approach rather than independent, proprietary point solutions.
Efforts to tighten communications of condition-monitoring instrumentation and data analysis software with CMMS and automation infrastructure, combined with the proliferation of wireless sensor systems and the drive to reduce manpower skill and time requirements, are bringing implementation costs down and drawing much attention to this approach. But should you implement it?
The basic principles of Lean Manufacturing date back at least to the 18th century. In Poor Richard's Almanack, Benjamin Franklin wrote, He that idly loses 5s. [shillings] worth of time, loses 5s., and might as prudently throw 5s. into the river. He that loses 5s not only loses that sum, but all the other advantages that might be made by turning it in dealing, which, by the time a young man becomes old, amounts to a comfortable bag of money.
Many companies decide not to build up certain capabilities in-house mainly because they dont have sufficient regular demand for them. Gamma scanning of distillation columns is a case in point, but on-site scanning specialists may be the wave of the future.
More attention to mercury and increased acceptance of predictive approaches is emerging. Such monitoring not only can keep plants on the right side of regulators but also can help provide insights for optimizing operation of equipment.
There are two main drivers for partial stroking of valves in safety systems: the desire to extend manual test intervals to as long as possible; and to reduce the amount of redundant hardware required for higher safety integrity levels. Like most things in life, it all boils down to one thing: trying to save money.
More and more companies are placing greater emphasis on maintenance and seeking help from vendors to boost the effectiveness of their efforts, as some recent major investment decisions demonstrate. Many automation companies now are benefiting by building up asset management services alongside process control capabilities.
More attention to steam systems and trap monitoring provides big benefits. At most chemical plants, plant management and operators face increasing pressures to improve the energy efficiency of their processes, so they should see how they can save on steam.
Increasing interest will translate into far more monitoring applications. The worldwide market for wireless technology will grow 26% annually over the next few years, forecasts the ARC Advisory Group. Vendors are responding and key concerns are being addressed.
Last months ISA Expo in Houston clearly showed how much attention wireless technology is attracting. However, concern about the reliability and life of batteries remains an issue. Thats why harvested or scavenged power is attracting interest.
Automation systems have now reached such a high degree of reliability that many personnel at plants now take them for granted. Learn to use digital communication with your asset management tools to achieve predictive maintenance and substantial savings.