Solids Level Measurement for Silo Safety and Preventive Maintenance

As we enter a three-day weekend with Monday’s Memorial Day here in the U.S., let’s end the week with a short post.

Measuring the level of solids in silos is tough since the level varies based on how the silo is filled as well as the physical properties of the solids. There are typically peaks and valleys. This quick 1-minute video, 3D Solids Scanner Perfect Tool for Safety & Preventive Maintenance of Silos, conveys in a light manner, how the visualization capabilities are used to help identify and take corrective action on any abnormal conditions in the silo, such as build up on the sidewalls. Continue Reading

Reducing Valve-Induced Unplanned Downtime

Emerson's Shawn Anderson

Valves are the critical components in any process manufacturing and production operation that touches what is being produced. As such, they are subject to wear and tear.

An ARC View report, Leveraging IIoT Technologies to Reduce Valve-Related Unplanned Downtime highlights key points from a presentation by Emerson’s Shawn Anderson at the ARC Advisory Group’s 20th Annual Industry Forum.

Here is the recap of the report:

ARC-View-Valve-IIoTAt ARC Advisory Group’s 20th Annual Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida, Shawn Anderson, Senior Research Specialist for Fisher Valves, a division of Emerson Process Management, gave a presentation on how the company is leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to help end users reduce valve-related unplanned downtime.

Mr. Anderson’s group at Emerson initially began looking at adopting IIoT technologies as a way to collect more valve health data from the field and provide more realistic valve failure information than could be generated in a lab. It soon became apparent that IIoT technologies were a natural fit for developing a remote monitoring service to help optimize customers’ valve maintenance practices. ARC observes that other leading companies also appear to be heading down a similar path; leveraging IIoT-enabled technologies to deliver new and more effective predictive or prescriptive maintenance services for critical assets.

In his Forum presentation, Mr. Anderson shared Fisher Valve’s strategy, benefits achieved, lesson learned, planned enhancements, and recommendations for others considering adopting IIoT technologies to optimize maintenance.

In the process industries, one of the most important, yet often over-looked assets, are control valves. Without reliable control valve operation, most processes quickly become uncontrollable leading to unplanned downtime.

ARC Advisory Group clients can view the complete report at ARC Client Portal on Office 365 or

If you would like to buy this report or obtain information about how to become a client, please Request ARC Info Continue Reading

Flow Measurement Pressure-Temperature Compensation

Peer-to-peer knowledge sharing provides valuable information beyond what is possible to find in owners’ manuals and other technical documentation from suppliers. You can find it every day in your Google searches about personal technologies that you use and technologies you use on your job.

One of the great places for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing for DeltaV distributed control system users is the DeltaV group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community. I flagged this response by Emerson’s Lou Heavner as a great example of this knowledge sharing in action.

A community member asked a question about how pressure-temperature compensation worked in the DeltaV system.

Lou responded (and I inserted some hyperlinks for additional sources of information):

Emerson's Lou Heavner

PT compensation converts a volumetric gas flow into a mass flow. There will be a constant that puts it into the correct units. The underlying assumption is that the gas composition doesn’t change. If you are familiar with the ideal gas law, you know that the moles of gas vary with pressure and temperature for a fixed volume.

So if a flow meter is measuring volumes of gas and we want to know mass, we need to correct for changes in temperature and pressure. That means the conversion factor is based on a reference pressure and temperature, typically the reference values used during meter calibration. The calculations are based on absolute pressure and temperature, so if you do the calculations by hand, you would need to correct both from gauge/measured to absolute (e.g. psig to psia and Deg F to Deg K). Continue Reading

Improving Gas Well Economics via Casing Flow Management

According the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. remains the largest oil & gas producer:

Shale oil and gas production has significantly helped secure this leadership position since 2012. The downside of shale oil & gas production are the rapid decline rates for the producing wells.

Emerson's Al Majek

Emerson's Terry Cox

In a World Oil article, Accelerated production improves shale well economics, Emerson’s Al Majek and Terry Cox teamed with Experitec‘s Gene Little and Southwestern Energy‘s Josh Jolly and Teo Baughn to share how to improve the management of the free-flow cycle of gas by applying well automation.

Accelerated-Shale-Well-ProdOne way to recover the costs of drilling and completing the wells is to operate the well in a mode:

…known as Extended Annular Flow (EAF)…, initial production is through both casing ports, enabling the well to produce at higher rates than through the tubing alone. During this period, which can last several months, rental equipment, as well as additional supervision, is required.

The authors described an alternate method, casing flow management, which is based on:

…controlling flow from one port of the casing, to obtain an effect similar to using EAF during the entirety of the well’s free-flowing lifecycle phase.

This is accomplished by installing: Continue Reading

Wireless and Non-Intrusive Sensing Technologies for Refinery Top Quartile Performance

Top Quartile Refinery PerformanceTechnology changes come at so quickly, it is something difficult to process how they can be used to help us improve performance. In our world of process automation, these changes must be proven over time before being put into widespread use. For example, WirelessHART technology was introduced in 2007, with widespread acceptance growing over the last several years.

Sensing technologies have also advanced greatly with more and more non-intrusive measurements possible. Corrosion control is one example where non-intrusive measurements can be applied for safer operations that are more reliable.

Emerson’s Marcelo Carugo

Between these two technology advancements, more measurements can be made beyond ones used in traditional process control to improve efficiency, reliability and safety.

Emerson’s Marcelo Carugo shared a whitepaper, New Ways to Achieve Top Quartile Refinery Performance, with me. It describes specific monitoring applications, such as heat exchangers, cooling towers, steam traps, relief valve and rupture discs, pump health, air-cooled heat exchangers, and wireless mobile workforce.

Each example provides quantified potential savings. Here’s the executive summary from the whitepaper: Continue Reading