You may have seen the news of the 2013 HART Plant of the Year noting:
I turned to Jeff Wilson with Emerson local business partner Puffer-Sweiven for more on how these savings were achieved.
HART technology has helped reduce production downtime related to control valve failures… We use the HART signal to monitor real time valve conditions which has helped with identifying problems before they could cause unplanned events. This reliability effort combined with several improvement initiatives has yielded significant financial savings including millions of dollars in EBIT [earnings before interest and taxes].
The story began more than a decade ago when Fisher FIELDVUE digital valve controllers (DVCs) were installed with AMS Device Manager with ValveLink software to calibrate the DVCs with the control valve and actuator assembly. The software was also used to identify which valves needed to be pulled and serviced during plant turnarounds. While this method of use created savings, it was primarily a reactive mode of operation.
As additional trains were instrumented with FIELDVUE DVCs, Jeff worked with the plant staff to incorporate the use of AMS Device Manager in a more proactive, condition-based manner. The DVCs included Performance Diagnostics (PD) that help identify friction, deadband, air leaks, drifting and other issues impacting the performance of the control valves. These diagnostics run while the valve operates. The HART digital communications protocol is the standard by which the data is communicated between the digital valve controllers & other HART-based devices and the AMS software & other HART-based applications such as handheld devices and control systems.Jeff described how the Performance Diagnostics provided alerts back to the operations team when specific performance thresholds were exceeded. An alert example might be a percentage deviation of valve travel from its expected position as directed by the control system. These alerts were looked at each day and workorders issued for any servicing that needed to be done.
Early identification of issues helped reduce unplanned downtime and variability in the process. Jeff also noted that this timestamped diagnostic information coming from the DVC could also be used in root-cause analysis. If the alert occurred after the upset condition, then the control valve could be cleared as the source of the problem.
By establishing equipment maintenance strategies and using work processes embedded in the computer maintenance management system (CMMS), corrective action could be performed based on real-time data to prioritize and optimize maintenance resources.
Beyond establishing the work processes to move from a reactive to proactive maintenance approach, Jeff shared that the operations staff learned to trust the data and take action upon further review of the information. The use of the HART-based diagnostics is being expanded to other instrumentation, such as Rosemount measurement devices.
Technology coupled with expertise and effective work processes all added up to award-winning performance. Congratulations to everyone involved!