One of the changes to daily life that has emerged from the pandemic is the practice of telemedicine so there are fewer visits to see a doctor in an office or clinic. These are replaced by video chats wherever possible, which are practical because of the communication technology and the ability of the doctor to access your medical records from a central database. Your history is available during the call and can enter into the conversation about the pain in this or that. These are very likely to remain the normal practice after the pandemic is over thanks to their efficiency.
So, let’s extend that thought into our industrial context and apply tele-medicine concepts to valve actuators. It may sound a little far-fetched, but there are critical similarities, which I point out in my IIoT Insights column in the Nov-Dec issue of InTech.
Many of these IIoT applications, whether powered by the Internet or internal intranets, have become more relevant as employees increasingly work from remote locations, requiring enhanced collaboration among widely dispersed personnel. An example is the remote monitoring of valves, along with collaborating for maintenance and repair, to improve reliability. Remote monitoring starts with data collection, enabled by digital valve controllers, which provide extensive information for use by asset management, distributed control, and other host systems.
That sounds like telemedicine to me. Like a doctor, I can “talk” to a smart valve actuator via the Internet by accessing its diagnostic data and see how it’s feeling today. As I look at the current performance data, I can access the medical (operational) history and put today’s condition into the historical context to spot trends. Best of all, I can do this virtual examination from anywhere, so there is no need for a site visit. If something needs to be fixed, a local technician can do the work following my instructions. If necessary, I can assist the technician via a real-time video link.
This approach is possible using smart valve controllers, such as Emerson’s Fisher FIELDVUE DVC6200 Digital Valve Controller. Using FIELDVUE Performance Diagnostics, valve operation can be monitored online to evaluate performance and reliability, and this data can be historized.
It is also now possible for a technician to physically locate a critical valve and actuator using a new approach, Emerson’s Asset Management Tag, to enable digital identification and tracking of plant equipment.
Another digital technology widely deployed to improve safety and efficiency is radio frequency identification (RFID). Many valves are located in hazardous and hard to reach areas, with damaged or missing ID plates common. An RFID tag is installed on each valve, either before it is placed in service or during a safe period of operation, enabling automation of otherwise time consuming, error prone, and sometimes dangerous methods for identifying valves.
The success of digital transformations often hinges on users’ imagination and their ability to see new opportunities to apply the concepts. How imaginative are your people? Are you and your colleagues finding ways to address areas affecting plant operation and costs?
Visit the Digital Valve Controllers pages at Emerson.com for more on technologies and solutions for improving final control performance. You can also connect and interact with other engineers in the Oil & Gas and Chemical Groups at the Emerson Exchange 365 community.