An ARC Advisory group study highlighted that “The global process industry loses $20 billion, or five percent of annual production, due to unscheduled downtime and poor quality. ARC estimates that almost 80 percent of these losses are preventable…”
Key components in controlling a process are the control valves, which directly touch the process. As such, they can be subject to corrosive, erosive and other challenging fluids.I caught up with Emerson’s Damon Meadows who gave me an update on how some process manufacturers and producers are managing the reliability and maintenance programs for these control valves.
Many of these plants struggle with becoming more proactive in their valve maintenance due to retiring expertise, downsizing, and being totally consumed in day-to-day upkeep activities.
Even with the technologies that can continuously monitor the health of these control valves, many operations and maintenance staffs find it difficult to take advantage of these diagnostics to optimize current work processes. And, the skills required to interpret the data are very different than the skills required to perform preventive maintenance.
Damon described a Control Valve Condition Monitoring service as a diagnostic service performed by certified Fisher valve and instrument product experts focused on providing predictive analysis of a facility’s control valves. Its purpose is to identify potential failures and avoid them before they cause unsafe operating conditions and/or unplanned downtime.This global network of experts gathers, analyzes and interprets data from the Fisher valves and other assets and provides actionable, data-driven recommendations. For example, a Midwest U.S. electrical power generator had boiler feedpump recirculation valves wearing out and leaking. These valves required frequent maintenance.
These valves play a critical role in protecting the boiler feedpumps. In this service they need to frequently and reliability open and close. An unplanned boiler shutdown can cost $10-15K USD to restart, and replacing the valve trim can cost up to $20K. These valves and parts are not off-the-shelf items and require lead-time to produce.
This power producer worked with the Control Valve Condition Monitoring team to implement a remote monitoring system for these and other critical control valves. Diagnostic tools such as AMS™ Device Manager and ValveLink™ software as well as FIELDVUE™ Digital Valve Controllers are used for the remote experts to perform regular data collection and analysis. With the data and analysis, problematic valves and performance issues can be identified early in order for corrective action to be planned and scheduled.
This remote monitoring service included technical assistance and tools to ensure the valves matched the application specifications, particularly during a coal-to-gas conversion project. They also helped to generate a parts database and tracking processes for a more proactive approach to inventory management and to conduct the necessary repairs or replacements to meet the turnaround schedule.
Damon noted that valve condition monitoring service is part of an overall family of remote monitoring services from Emerson, which includes Machinery Health Monitoring, DeltaV System Health Monitoring and Steam Trap Monitoring.