Employing Collaborative Measurement Strategies

I received an email from Anand Iyer. He’s a certified project management professional (PMP) and a project manager in Emerson’s engineering center in Pune, India. His project experience covers the gamut from pharmaceuticals, bulk drugs and intermediates to oil, gas and petrochemicals.

He’s sent me a paper he’s written entitled, Collaborative Measurement Control System Engineering. It describes how measurements close to one another in the process can collaborate with one another to verify their operation. He describes an example around a distillation column:

Now let us take two temperatures (bottom temperatures) in a distillation column and a level measurement. When the level is normal, the two temperatures are same or have a fixed relationship between them. TI1 is placed at a lower level in the column (near bottom) and TC2 is at a higher level (and used for Temp. control). Now TC2 is generally used for control. We can safely say that if Level is normal, and TC2 is under maintenance, TI1 can be used for control (with a minor adjustment to Setpoint if required). Thus Level and Thermocouple TI1 put together can “collaborate” the measurement of Temperature-measurement TC2.

Anand contrasts the traditional approach to a failure with how collaborative measurement strategies can be used in control strategies to avoid outages or process disturbances. In the traditional approach:

…the first thing done if an element were to fail was to swap the elements (either during the shutdown caused by the failure) or by a planned outage or having the loop in manual and doing the swap. At times, we have also used our ingenuity and just swapped the wires at the analog inputs and tuned control setpoints to have the plant up and running in a very short time. And hopefully, in all that chaos, someone had the presence of mind to record the swap on the wiring diagrams.

Using a collaborative measurement strategy:

…says that if level is not low and TC2 is not available then TI1 can be a valid measurement. We alarm the operator that TC2 is not available, fine tune the setpoint if required… All this occurs automatically and there is no outage or disturbance that could result in quality issues.

He extends the thought to Foundation fieldbus devices where the final control elements themselves can perform the logical evaluations and select the available primary or collaborated measurement, increasing the overall robustness of the control strategy. Anand also extends his thinking to wireless devices and how they could be used in a collaborative measurement environment–not as a primary measurement, but as a collaborative measurement to check on other devices nearby.

I hope you’ll give Anand’s paper a read and add your thoughts.

One comment so far

  1. Virenchee Palande says:

    The term “collaborative measurement strategy” used here is nothing different than the “Inferential Control System” which ‘infers’ from the measurement taken by other/auxillary sensors & takes corrective action in case of failure of main measurement systems in Distillation Column. This technique has been in use for more than decades in process industry. You may refer the Instrumentation Handbooks by Mr. Bela G. Liptak or books by Mr. F. G. Shinskey for more details.
    Virenchee Palande
    Jacobs Engineering
    I&C Engineer | E&I Dept.
    +31.71.582.7050 fax
    [email protected]
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    Leiden, 2332 CB
    The Netherlands

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