New technologies that are truly different often depend on a “killer app” to convince users to take the leap. For the Internet early on, it was email. Suddenly being able to communicate near instantaneously in writing provided visible value people could latch on to, and the rest is history. For industrial users, digital transformation has been similar. How and why it has been adopted in many locations is the topic of my article in the October issue of Control. The technology is there, but how does it really help us?
While digital transformation is enabled by various technologies, business improvement only occurs when these technologies enable the workforce to create more value. Digital technologies have existed for decades and have primarily been used to help manufacturers automate and optimize their core production processes. But digital technologies can also be extended to enable the same sort of improvements in other operational areas like reliability, safety, energy and emissions.
We can make the case for many places where a company can realize value in very practical ways, but for this article, we restricted the discussion to two areas: smart valve diagnostics and pressure-relief valves (PRVs).
Valves can be monitored remotely to predict problems before they occur, allowing issues to be addressed proactively. This method of monitoring and service is a vast improvement compared with a run-to-failure approach because it increases uptime, reduces maintenance costs and improves safety. SMEs can use data interpretation tools powered by anomaly detection algorithms. Further, SME knowledge and expertise can be used to determine if a problem has occurred or is predicted, and direct corrective actions needed to remedy the issue.
This capability requires smart valve controllers, such as Emerson’s Fisher FIELDVUE DVC6200 Digital Valve Controller. Using diagnostic information sent via HART, WirelessHART, or Foundation Fieldbus, the reliability team can determine when a problem might be developing, and then decide when to fix it while avoiding an unscheduled outage. Avoiding an outage maintains maximum production and profitability. That’s value.
So, what about PRV monitoring? For that we need acoustic monitoring devices which can ‘hear’ if a valve is fully sealed, as it should be, or if it is leaking.
A mere 0.1% leak, if left unaddressed for a year, equals a full release from a PRV for six hours. The effect is multiplied into a huge problem when considering the total population of PRVs in a process unit or overall plant. A study from 10,000 PRV service records presented an astonishing result, indicating 20% of installed PRVs leaked below 50% of set pressure, meaning many of these valves were constantly leaking. Even worse, 8% of valves surveyed leaked so excessively they didn’t operate correctly when tested.
Emerson’s Rosemount 708 Wireless Acoustic Transmitter provides visibility into PRVs by accurately communicating acoustic level and temperature data—as well as device data, event status, and leak detection—all via a WirelessHART network. Avoiding leakage reduces product loss and environmental impact. Again, that’s value.
So, there are two prime examples that most process industry companies can duplicate easily. What’s going on in your plant? Are you still looking for ways to find value and implement digital transformation?
Visit the Industrial IoT and Digital Transformation sections at Emerson.com for more on technologies and solutions for fluid control and automation. You can also connect and interact with other engineers in the Oil & Gas and Chemical Groups at the Emerson Exchange 365 community.