Emerson’s Tom Holemans shared a recent problem-solving story with me about a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s desire to reduce aseptic valve maintenance costs and increase overall availability by switching from a preventive to predictive maintenance approach.
As a process industry specialist with ASCO Numatics my role is to work closely with manufacturers to help identify ways we can help them address their issues by using our technologies. I visited a pharmaceutical manufacturer recently who has over 6,000 aseptic diaphragm valves installed in the plant.
It is highly important to them for plant availability and product quality reasons that the diaphragms in the valves do not fail. They have a preventive maintenance programme in place that means that each diaphragm must be changed every 6 months. This is a time consuming and costly process equating to approximately 600 man days per year. They wanted to move to predictive maintenance for these valves but were not sure the technology was available to enable them to do that.
Further investigation revealed that the valves were being piloted by valve islands–a bank of solenoid valves connected to an electronics module–which were in turn connected to the DeltaV control system via a Profibus DP communications network.
We were able to demonstrate that by installing ASCO Numatics valve islands with the G3 electronics module they would be able to use the DeltaV system to count the number of cycles that each valve makes. This measurement can be used to predict diaphragm failure, enabling diaphragm change-out periods to be extended over time as they gather information and experience.
In addition to the inferred diagnostics for the aseptic valves the G3 provided onboard diagnostics with a graphical interface, enabling valve island faults to be diagnosed quickly further aiding availability.