Wireless and Non-Intrusive Sensing Technologies for Refinery Top Quartile Performance

by | May 23, 2016 | Downstream Hydrocarbons, Industrial IoT, Industry

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Editor

Top Quartile Refinery PerformanceTechnology changes come at so quickly, it is something difficult to process how they can be used to help us improve performance. In our world of process automation, these changes must be proven over time before being put into widespread use. For example, WirelessHART technology was introduced in 2007, with widespread acceptance growing over the last several years.

Sensing technologies have also advanced greatly with more and more non-intrusive measurements possible. Corrosion control is one example where non-intrusive measurements can be applied for safer operations that are more reliable.

Emerson’s Marcelo Carugo


Between these two technology advancements, more measurements can be made beyond ones used in traditional process control to improve efficiency, reliability and safety.

Emerson’s Marcelo Carugo shared a whitepaper, New Ways to Achieve Top Quartile Refinery Performance, with me. It describes specific monitoring applications, such as heat exchangers, cooling towers, steam traps, relief valve and rupture discs, pump health, air-cooled heat exchangers, and wireless mobile workforce.

Each example provides quantified potential savings. Here’s the executive summary from the whitepaper:

Refineries are continuously challenged to improve performance metrics in the areas of energy, availability and safety. Identifying the root causes that degrade these metrics is critical, but traditional methods can be difficult to justify due to the high cost, lengthy installation time and required downtime.

With advances in new technologies such as non-intrusive and wide area sensing along with wireless communications, it is now easier and more cost-effective than ever before to add measurement points throughout a refinery. These technology shifts have empowered the development of Pervasive Sensing solutions.

Pervasive Sensing solutions enable automatic data collection and analytics for applications that were previously monitored manually or not at all. With predictive analytics, these solutions make predictive maintenance possible through actionable information, such as abnormal operation or imminent failure alerts. By solving problems before they happen in applications such as pumps, motors, steam straps, heat exchangers, valves, and piping systems, operators can maximize production and improve overall plant reliability, safety and efficiency.

Based on existing installations, Pervasive Sensing solutions support Solomon first quartile performance goals by enabling significant reduction in monitoring costs. An average sized refinery has the opportunity to achieve $12.3 million per year in operating benefits through improved reliability, reduced energy use and safety/environmental incidents, providing a six month return-on-investment (ROI).

Over 27,000 wireless networks (the backbone of Pervasive Sensing strategies) are already installed in refineries around the world, proving the value and reliability of these networks with over six billion hours of operation.

In this white paper, we’ll address the issues refineries face, and demonstrate how wireless sensors, combined with Pervasive Sensing strategies can help solve these problems and achieve top quartile performance like those ranked by Solomon.

Download and read the whitepaper for more on how the returns on investments for these Pervasive Sensing solutions are typically measured in months.

You can also connect and interact with other refining and petrochemical experts in the Refining group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.