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Ethylene Furnace Automation, Control & Optimization

Author: Pete Sharpe

Cracking furnaces are one of the most crucial parts of an ethylene complex. They set the production and yield for the entire plant. For furnace-limited plants, when a furnace is down, whether for maintenance or decoking, production is lost. Poor control and sub-optimal furnace operations lead to lower yields, more frequent decoke cycles, increased energy costs, and higher health, safety & environmental (HSE) risks.

Opportunity to minimize furnace decoking cycleThe key to operating a furnace is to set its feed rate, severity [cracking temperature] and steam ratio such that all passes through the furnace coke up at the same rate. This is so they all reach their maximum tube skin temperature on the planned decoking date. If one pass cokes up early, the furnace must be brought down and decoked early. Decoking before all passes are at their maximum means that additional ethylene production has been missed. Furnace-limited plants also have opportunities for additional production by minimizing the decoking cycle as shown here. Continue Reading

Successful Project Management Leadership Skills

The best laid plans do not always guarantee a successful project. But strong project management leadership can help identify the issues and help the project team address these issues earlier before they might lead to delays and additional costs.

In a ProjectManagement.com article, Vision, Vigilance, and Intuitive Judgment in Project Management Processes, Emerson’s Sal Zafar highlights skills in what makes a highly successful project leader.

Sal identifies 4 characteristics of effective project managers.

  1. Effective project managers fully recognize the importance of equipping themselves with key tools and techniques throughout the project life cycle
  2. They consistently adopt and utilize the appropriate skill sets at opportune times
  3. They use effective time-management strategies to produce cost-effective measures and, hence, deliver a quality product or service within the parameters given by clients
  4. They unfailingly demonstrate strong, positive leadership during the project life cycle

On top of these, highly successful project managers demonstrate clear vision, extra vigilance, and intuitive judgment.

A clear vision is key to always keep and widely communicate the project end goals and the vision on achieving these goals to the project team. These effective leaders: Continue Reading

Self-Contained Hydraulic Emergency Shutdown System

A safety instrumented function (SIF) in a safety instrumented system (SIS) contains a sensor, logic solver and final element. All must function properly in the event of a safety demand to take the process into a safe state in coordination with other SIFs.

The final element consists of several parts including the isolation valve, actuator, pressure pilots, test valves and other components as required by the application. In this quick, 2:17 video, Introduction to Bettis PressureGuard Hydraulic Emergency Shutdown System, Emerson’s Sergio Vaz Lopes describes the elements of this self-contained, hydraulic Emergency Shutdown (ESD) system. Continue Reading

Non-contacting Radar for Automatic Tank Gauging and Overfill Prevention Systems

Fluid Handling Pro: Technology Selection for Automatic Tank Gauging and Overfill Prevention SystemsBulk liquid storage tanks often contain fluids that are hazardous, flammable and/or explosive. These tanks require not only a control system to control levels but and overfill prevention system (OPS) as layer of protection beyond the control system. This basic process control system (BPCS) is commonly referred to as an automatic tank gauging (ATG) system and the OPS is the safety instrumented system (SIS).

A Fluid Handling Pro article, Technology Selection for Automatic Tank Gauging and Overfill Prevention Systems explores these systems and the relevant standards to apply to ensure safe operations.

IEC 61511 Functional safety – Safety instrumented systems for the process industry sector and API 2350 Overfill Protection for Storage Tanks in Petroleum Facilities are key standards to follow.

IEC 61511 sets out best safety practices for implementing a modern OPS in the process industry. In addition, API 2350 addresses the minimum requirements to comply with modern best practices in the specific application of non-pressurized above-ground large petroleum storage tanks.

While manual overflow prevention practices have been traditionally used: Continue Reading

Predictive and Prescriptive Maintenance in Life Sciences

Life Sciences IndustryWhen you think of machinery for industrial use, often images of refineries, oil & gas production sites and other visual images come to mind. But what about the machinery and other equipment in industries with shiny stainless steel everywhere, such as pharmaceutical, biotech and food & beverage manufacturing?

The pumps, fans, and other pieces of process equipment must operate reliably and be part of a comprehensive maintenance program. Emerson’s Dennis Belanger joins other suppliers to the Life Sciences industry in a PharmTech.com article, Optimizing Machine Health.

While preventive maintenance practices are still common: Continue Reading