Power Plant Monitoring

Douglas Morris Director of Marketing, Mining & Power Industries

Douglas Morris
Director of Marketing, Mining & Power Industries

Author: Douglas Morris

Wireless measurement devices are nothing new and installations are in just about every industry, including power. From my experience, power plants don’t choose to use wireless technologies to replace wired devices, rather they are used to solve some of those monitoring applications where the cost of laying copper is simply too expensive.

Those utilities that have deployed the technology in monitoring applications have found the additional data helpful to operations. One customer had a problem with strainers clogging on raw water intake piping and used wireless pressure transmitters to detect plugging.

This simple measurement prevented a constant maintenance problem. Another plant uses wireless devices as a means to better manage ash ponds and gain early insight into any changes at these ponds. Still others are using acoustic devices to track leakage from steam traps and relief valves. What users are finding is that the technology is very robust and that once a wireless system is in their plant, it’s easy to identify and add incremental monitoring points. Continue Reading

Hardware in the Loop Simulation for Process Control

Felipe Fakir Systems Engineer

Felipe Fakir
Systems Engineer

Emerson’s Felipe Fakir shared a whitepaper with me, Hardware in the Loop Simulation for Industrial Process Control, which he and colleagues attending São Paulo State University in Brazil had written. Their abstract [I’ve added hyperlinks]:

Real-time simulation for control loop design and operators training systems (OTS) are increasingly being used in the process industry due to some advantages as safety, repeatability, comprehensiveness, and reduced cost and time of development. One technique to perform real-time simulations is HIL – Hardware-In-the-Loop, which consists in the simulation of an industrial process part operating in real-time with real equipment belonging to the control system.

HIL addresses the use of a dedicated hardware for real-time model simulation and communication interface with control systems. This whitepaper highlights the use and discusses the benefits of the HIL technique for industrial process control. The process dynamic model, a coupled tank industrial process, was designed in the Mimic simulation software and downloaded in to a real-time hardware, VIM [Virtual IO Module], for process simulation purpose.

This process model is integrated to the DeltaV distributed control system (DCS), designed to perform process control. By using the HIL solution, it is possible to enable OTS of industrial control systems, besides simulating the behavior of industrial processes with different controller tuning, reducing risks, tuning and startup times of automation systems.

The authors open noting benefits simulation for automation system suppliers:

…such as reducing costs with prototyping, possibility to testing systems under different conditions with high repeatability; and as a result optimizing processes and product development…

They highlight the three most known simulation techniques—the first two considered real-time simulations: Continue Reading

Improving Oil and Gas Production Separation

One of the most basic functions in an oil and gas production process is the separation of the oil, gas, basic sediment, and water. The production separator handles this function. This separation step in the process allows the flow or production rate of the individual component streams to be measured, providing essential information on the quantity of fluids produced from each well in the field.

The challenge for oil & gas operators is to perform this separation while minimizing production allocation errors, maximizing separation efficiency, and reducing gas sent to tanks and flare.

Michael Machuca Upstream O&G Industry Marketing Manager

Michael Machuca
Upstream O&G Industry Marketing Manager

In this 47-minute recorded webinar, Key Considerations for Improving Production Separation, Emerson’s Michael Machuca shares how to address these challenges and in addition to offering ways technology can assist in avoiding royalty disputes, avoiding health, safety and environmental (HSE) risks to help you meet production plans, maintain compliance, and reduce your overall operating costs.

Improving-Production-SeparaIn this webinar, Michael highlights many of the common issues in operating separators and heater treaters including causes and their impact on the process.

For onshore well pad sites, the measurements taken after the separation has taken place are used to pay royalties to landowners. There are legal risks when measurements don’t match what is in the tank. Poor separation can cause lost gas to sales and frequent trips by personnel to the well pad site. And, without good data, it’s difficult to make production management decisions to optimize production levels.

Michael shares some examples and financial impacts of potential problems including increased separator backpressure deferring production, produced sand eroding flowmeters, and excessive flaring caused by separator carryunder. Continue Reading

Jamming at the Emerson Exchange Conference

Before we get too far away from the Emerson Exchange conference held last month in Orlando, I wanted to share a great article from an internal newsletter which recapped the Emerson Exchange Jam session. While we feature process automation and instrumentation expertise day in and day out here on the blog, who knew there was so much musical talent? Here’s the article:

(Left to right) Mark Kennedy (Emerson-St Louis), David Schiff (Novaspect), and Jonathan Pollet (Red Tiger Security) are among the more than 40 musicians who have joined in an evening jam session at Emerson Exchange.

(Left to right) Mark Kennedy (Emerson-St Louis), David Schiff (Novaspect), and Jonathan Pollet (Red Tiger Security) are among the more than 40 musicians who have joined in an evening jam session at Emerson Exchange.

During the 2014 Exchange conference in Orlando, Florida, a band with all-Emerson members performed for its largest audience yet – about 1500 people! What began in 2009 as an impromptu jam session between two musicians in a hotel lobby has grown into an annual “event.” For one night a year, Emerson musicians ─ calling themselves the Exchange House Band ─ devote themselves to entertaining Emerson Global Users Exchange Conference attendees who want to sing, dance, and unwind. The talent on stage may include Emerson customers, sales associates, vendors, and even some journalists – around 1.5% of total Emerson Exchange attendees.

Mark Kennedy works for Emerson in St. Louis and plays six instruments. “Our annual jam gives conference attendees a welcome break from an otherwise ‘left-brain intensive’ week,” he said. “Over the years, this music night has become a truly unique entertainment and networking opportunity ─ one you won’t find at any other technical business conference.” Continue Reading

Risk is the Card that Trumps Everything

Gordon Lawther Modernization Program Manager

Gordon Lawther
Modernization Program Manager

Author: Gordon Lawther

In the world of aging automation systems and infrastructures, there are always new features and capabilities that we’d like to have. HMI’s [human machine interfaces] more akin to our home computers, intuitive engineering tools with pre-defined libraries incorporating functions that used to require dozens of lines of code, smart diagnostics to replace iterative troubleshooting.

Human-Machine-InterfaceAnd then there are constraints that truly cause a business to become less competitive. Maybe there is no spare I/O to add measurement and control to improve product quality or integration with business systems is not possible with legacy technology.

Even with a strong business case and all the right reasons to fund a modernization project, unmitigated risk will almost always be a trump card to delay or kill a project. The cost of extended or unscheduled downtime as a consequence of doing an automation modernization project can dwarf any return on investment. Continue Reading