Plant turnarounds have never been known to be staff’s favorite projects, so few people were sad to see them slow or even stop altogether during the COVID pandemic. But now that the worst of the global pandemic appears to be in the rearview mirror, organizations have begun scheduling turnarounds again, only for many of them to find that with fewer people on staff and an abundance of supply chain issues, they are more difficult than ever.
Fortunately, as Emerson’s Erik Lindhjem explains in his recent article in Hydrocarbon Processing, there’s no need to panic. The same digital technologies that helped organizations navigate the pandemic can be used to drive more efficient, effective turnarounds. And what’s more, when those technologies are coupled with a Boundless Automation™ vision—focused on delivering seamless data connectivity and democratization from intelligent field devices, through the edge, and into the cloud—the benefits only increase.
Simplifying valve maintenance
There can be little question that one of the most time-consuming elements of turnarounds is valve maintenance. Afterall, much of the deterioration on a valve happens on the inside, so it takes more than just a glance to see if the equipment is functioning properly. Taking a valve apart takes time and money, and can even risk introducing problems where none existed. With modern technology, Erik explains, there is a better strategy,
“Digital valve controllers are key components of these efforts because they provide insight into the health of the inner workings of critical valves, without requiring technicians to open them up. Teams that do not have digital valve controllers in place can begin installing them prior to turnarounds, enabling them to stroke the valves ahead of shutdown and collect data to identify which ones need repair, and which can continue running as is.”
But adding digital valve controllers isn’t the end of the line. As part of its Boundless Automation vision, Emerson has designed snap-on software to provide even more granular control and analysis. The snap-on software enables teams to integrate their valves directly into AMS Device Manager to view extensive diagnostics and automatically collect the data to better schedule maintenance.
Easier monitoring of rotating machinery
Valves aren’t the only equipment in the plant that can cause headaches during a turnaround. It used to be that rotating machinery was easier to maintain because, unlike valves, many of the problems that equipment experienced was identifiable from the outside. However, making such an identification means having the knowledge and expertise to do so—which often comes only after years or decades of experience. In today’s short-staffed, high-retirement workforce, personnel with those deep skillsets often come at a premium, if they can be found at all.
Fortunately, teams have access to a wider range of wireless intelligent instrumentation than ever before. Solutions like Emerson’s AMS Wireless Vibration Monitor or AMS Asset Monitor can help close the skill gap, giving users an instant analysis of asset health in an intuitive format. That’s very helpful on an asset by asset basis, but, as Erik explains, it is even more powerful when it is used as the foundation for a wider vision,
“Those sensor installations are a perfect springboard for a more formal condition monitoring strategy built on a Boundless Automation foundation. As teams install more sensors around the facility, they can be much more informed going into a turnaround—but only if that information is delivered to a centralized system that helps them identify, analyze, troubleshoot, and prioritize what they need to fix.”
Turnarounds benefit from Boundless Automation
Erik goes into further detail, sharing how corrosion detection and cloud connectivity close the loop to drive more effective, efficient turnarounds and general maintenance. The best part is, nearly every organization is set up to begin taking advantage of Emerson’s Boundless Automation strategy, as nearly every technology plays a role in the larger ecosystem. To learn more about that vision, and to start gathering ideas about how you can improve your next turnaround, read the article in its entirety over at Hydrocarbon Processing.