PAT Initiative Opens Up Performance Monitoring Opportunities

In an earlier post, I mentioned seeing a draft article by Emerson’s Terry Blevins and James Beall on performance monitoring and the Process Analytical Technologies (PAT) initiative.

The article, Monitoring and Control Tools for Implementing PAT, has now been published in Pharmaceutical Technology magazine.

Terry and James do a great job in summarizing the common problems process monitoring can detect. These include problems where the control is limited, information from the field transmitters is bad or uncertain, loop modes are incorrect, or there is high variability associate with the loop.

You can do process monitoring with an application that runs either on top of the existing automation system or embedded within it as I discussed in an earlier post on DeltaV InSight.

Here’s a few tips gleaned from the article which I’ll paraphrase:

  • Make sure the performance monitoring application understands the operating states of the batch process avoid false indications or failed measurements
  • Where you are using smart field devices like Foundation fieldbus, HART, or others include the status which accompanies the measurement so that performance calculations are based on valid information
  • Check the operating modes of the loops versus their design as a basic measurement of control performance.
  • Having a model to compare the actual running process against can help spot the largest areas of variability to focus improvement efforts.

Terry and James wrap up their article nicely pointing out that the Food and Drug Administration’s PAT initiative has opened up the opportunity to use these performance monitoring tools to improve the operations of their processes. The timing is great with newer technologies coming along to simplify the performance monitoring process.

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