Undertaking a Digital Transformation

by , | Dec 11, 2017 | Industrial IoT, Services, Consulting & Training

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Editor

The global market for natural gas has changed dramatically over the past several years. Some noteworthy changes include huge new supplies of natural gas from U.S. shale gas regions, more liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities both on the liquefaction and regassification side, and addition downstream petrochemical processing facilities that use natural gas as a feedstock.

To cope with the changing economics, companies across the gas value chain been finding ways to improve their operations to remain profitable and operate safely, efficiently and reliably. Emerson’s Jonas Berge spoke at the Gas Asia Summit Conference this past October. His presentation, Digital Transformation of the Gas Value Chain, provided the whys, how’s and what’s on the path to more profitable operations.

Across this value chain, companies are challenged in improving safety & compliance, production levels, reliability & maintenance practices, and energy & emissions targets. Another challenge in many parts of the world is a loss of experience as members of the baby boomer generation retire.

Given these challenges, local experts at the plant level are harder to find and keep. The Industrial Internet of Things technologies are a component in a digital transformation to address these challenges. Additional easily-added sensors provide more diagnostic information from the plant equipment to be fed to analytics software overseen by centralized experts within the company—or to 3rd party instrumentation and automation suppliers.

Experts, whether local or remote, perform monitoring and analysis of this diagnostic information to keep the operations running at optimum levels. This data may be in company on-premise data centers or be cloud-hosted.

A Digital Transformation with IIoT, Analytics and Expertise

Jonas shared examples in four categories: Health, Safety, Environment; Reliability & Maintenance; Production; Energy & Emissions.

Health, Safety, Environment

  • Emergency safety shower and eyewash
  • Manual valve position
  • Relief valve release
  • Shutdown valve position and performance
  • Hydrocarbon leak/spill detection
  • Storage tank breather & blanketing valves
  • H2S
  • Independent tank overfill
  • Cooling water discharge temperature

Reliability & Maintenance

  • Pump & mechanical seal
  • Blower/fan
  • Air cooled heat exchanger
  • Non-process centrifugal compressor
  • Cooling tower
  • Pipe corrosion
  • Manual data collection rounds
  • Instrumentation and valves
  • Heat tracing system

Production

  • Operator rounds
  • Offsite tank farm storage tank
  • Wellhead and control panel
  • Process troubleshooting
  • Control valve and damper position
  • Local control panels
  • Rotating kiln and reactor
  • Offsite standby pump
  • Consumables inventory
  • Non-wireless devices
  • LNG storage temperature profile (leak detection)

Energy & Emissions

  • Steam trap failure
  • Heat exchanger fouling
  • Cooling tower excess cooling
  • Air cooled heat exchanger excess cooling
  • Relief valve seat passing
  • Energy consumption management

These applications are not an exhaustive list, but rather examples where improvement opportunities can be found. The place to start when undertaking a digital transformation initiative is with the business goals and objectives. By benchmarking current practices and comparing against a digitally-transformed practice can turn a pilot effort with solid returns on investment into a full-scale effort.

Jonas shares specific examples where producers have implemented projects and achieved results. He also describes the second layer of automation which includes pervasive wireless sensing devices, purpose-built predictive analytics, intuitive, mobile-device enabled dashboards to display overall performance and actionable information, and remote services to connect experts into this digital transformation.

To learn more, make sure to connect with Jonas and follow the essays that he shares in his LinkedIn page, such as his most recent posting, IIoT, Digital Transformation -what’s the difference?

You can also connect and interact with other digital transformation experts in the Improve & Modernize group of 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.