Choosing Temperature Instrumentation Should Begin with Understanding the Process

by | Aug 8, 2020 | Downstream Hydrocarbons, Food & Beverage, Life Sciences & Medical, Measurement Instrumentation, Oil & Gas, Temperature


In a Process Heating magazine article titled Questions to Ask About Temperature Measurement Applications, Emerson’s Sarah Kendrick helps engineers work through the critical temperature application design process. Imagine this: One of your process engineers comes to you, points to a P&ID and says, “We need a new process temperature measurement right here. Take care of it.” What is the first thing you need to know to ensure the new installation is successful? What’s the second thing? The third? Understanding what the application needs is the first step to achieving success. So what questions should you ask? That’s the topic of my article in the May 2020 issue of Process Heating, and it’s designed to help get everyone involved in the development to focus on what is really important, rather than getting sidetracked on secondary issues. Have the process engineer sit down and ask:

Question 1: Why Do We Need This Measurement? Here is where the process really begins. Whether checking the temperature of bearings on a compressor, liquid flowing through a pipe or the interior of an oven, there has to be some understanding of why the measurement is necessary. Without proper justification to prove the new equipment provides value, it will be difficult to move forward with a purchase.

Yes, it’s a very basic question, but some companies simply never ask it. If you get a blank stare in response, you can suggest some possibilities:

Who needs the information?

Do operations depend on having the reading available?

Is it a monitoring function?

Is it driving a temperature control loop?

Is it supplementing a different instrument and variable (e.g., being used to calculate a mass flow reading)?

Is it controlling a safety function?

Hopefully this will shake loose some answers. Once past this point, it’s possible to start refining the design specs by asking additional questions, such as: What is being measured? What are the measurement requirements? Designing an installation to measure the temperature of steam in a pipe is different than the bearings of a compressor. The article goes on to encourage readers to resist settling for an OK installation. With the range of devices and design tools available, every temperature measurement can be optimized to deliver the best performance possible. Don’t pull something off the shelf and say, “This should work.” There may be far too much at stake. Take advantage of the enormous range of products and design tools, such as Emerson’s Rosemount Thermowell Design Accelerator, to create high performance installations with long service life and minimal lifecycle costs. So how do you work through new application designs? Do your people know how to use all the resources available to solve a problem? Visit the Rosemount Temperature Sensor pages at for more on technologies and solutions for the whole gamut of temperature measuring challenges. You can also connect and interact with other design teams in the Refining and Chemical groups at 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.

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