Ways to Improve Plant Performance via Pressure Instrumentation

Embedded diagnostics in smart instrumentation has played a role in safer, more efficient and reliable plants for decades in the process industries. As the power of the microcontrollers at the heart of these intelligent devices grows, so do the reliability, accuracy and diagnostic coverage grow.

Pressure-Instrumentation-WhitepaperA new whitepaper, 7 Ways to Improve Productivity and Process Operations with Pressure Instrumentation, provides practical examples of putting the accuracy, reliability, diagnostic coverage to effective use.

I’ll briefly share the seven ways and invite you to request a copy of the whitepaper. The first way is to use the diagnostic coverage to increase uptime. We shared one example how in an earlier post, Early Detection of Distillation Column Flooding Conditions.

The second way is to simplify process connections to improve reliability. Differential pressure (DP) flow and level measurement are great examples where this can be done. We discussed this in a post, Eliminating Temperature Effects in DP Level Measurement.

The third way is to eliminate heat tracing to increase accuracy and reduce costs. We described one way how in a post, Avoiding Cold Climate Measurement Challenges.

The fourth way is to easily and economically add measurement points to increase process insight. For many plants and production facilities the challenge and cost of running wires to add the measurement has been a limiting factor. As a result, measurement devices were minimized to what was needed to control the process. Wireless devices now make it possible to add measurements to improve energy usage, monitor rotating assets, and much more. Continue Reading

Improving Operator Performance via Human Factors Research

Safe operations are a top priority for process manufacturers and producers. One major area affecting process and personnel safety is the capabilities and performance of plant operators. The Center for Operator Performance (COP) consortium brings together:

…a diverse group of industry, vendor, and academia representatives addressing human capabilities and limitations with research, collaboration, and human factors engineering.

Emerson's Mark Nixon


Emerson’s Mark Nixon, a member of the center representing Emerson Process Management, shared some recent research published in IIE Transactions.

The special issue, Human Factors in Advanced Applications for Process Control, provides an overview of current research efforts into operator training requirements and methods, human-machine interface (HMI) design concepts and HMI and work assessment frameworks.

This research includes recommendations on training methods, novel process visualization displays, working with advanced process control interfaces and more.

Here are the articles included in this special edition [purchase required]:

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Improving Measurement and Final Control in Refinery Blending

As global refiners strive to meet ever-tightening regulations, the performance of measurement and final control devices can have a big impact in meeting this challenge.

The third Refinery Blending Series webinar recording, Improving measurement and control in blending operations Improving measurement and control in blending operations is now available.

Emerson's Julie Valentine


Emerson's John Ward


Emerson’s Julie Valentine and John Ward review the current business climate and its impact on blending operations. They share how regulations, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 3 regulations, affect the importance of measurement and final control element performance and how to justify improvements.

They close the presentation portion of the webinar with some case studies where measurement improvements and tighter control valve performance increased profitability and reduced maintenance costs.

Regional and seasonal variations cause many refiners to have more than 50 blend recipes and perform over 1000 blend operations per year. These blends may range from 10,000 barrels to more than 200,000 barrels.

Common-Blend-ModelsThe difference in blending optimally versus sub-optimally can be as much as $0.75 to $1.50 (USD) per barrel. Julie notes that flow measurement is important for ratio (ramping and pacing) control as well as feedback for the blend property controls and blend optimizer.

By improving the accuracy of the flow measurements, the ratio-based controls can operate closer to optimum. Variability can also be reduced which allows targets to operate closer to specification—for instance moving targets from 7ppm to 9ppm sulfur without missing the specification and causing reblending operations.

Julie cites an example where a 0.3% error in flow measurement caused less optimal blending ratios costing $0.65/barrel or $400,000 / year for a 100,000 barrel/day refinery. One way to improve flow measurement is to replace turbine meters with more accurate Coriolis flow and density meters. Continue Reading

Optimizing Oil and Gas Well Chemical Injection Processes

Given the presence of water in oil and gas producing wells, corrosion in the piping is a problem that must be mitigated. Producers inject chemicals into the production stream to minimize the oxidation process. The cost of these chemicals can have an impact on the overall performance of the offshore platform or onshore production field, especially in this era of lower oil prices.

Emerson's Laura Schafer


In this quick 2:18 video, Optimizing Well Chemical Injection through Flow Assurance, Emerson’s Laura Schafer describes how to reduce the cost of the chemicals and overall operating expenses by not injecting more than is required to prevent corrosion.

Laura notes that when oil prices were higher, it was not as much of an issue if producers were over-injecting chemicals. Producers over-injected because the cost of under-injecting could be catastrophic in terms of safety, environmental incidents and downtime.

This over-injection could be by up to 20% more than is required. One oil and gas producer shared that this over-injection cost them up to $2 million USD per year—for a single well. In this instance, they did not have confidence in the reliability of their measurement and control system. Continue Reading

Strategic Relationships, Lifecycle Services and the Cloud

If you’ll be presenting at the October 12-16 Emerson Exchange conference, the July 1 deadline for submitting your first presentation draft is rapidly approaching. If you’re not presenting and planning to join us in Denver, you have until August 15 to get the Early Bird registration rate. Here are some justifications if you need to convince the right folks in your organization.

I wanted to highlight a few more Emerson experts presenting and co-presenting at the conference to give you a flavor.

Emerson’s Julian Annison


Emerson’s Julian Annison will team with Petroineos’ Neil King to present, Managing us, managing them – putting the Strategic into the Supplier Relationship. Their abstract:

Petroineos a joint venture between PetroChina and Ineos has operated the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland since 2011. A shift in product balance, prices, demand and operating on a 90 year old site, required a business strategy to move from Solomon 3rd to 1st Quartile performance. Petroineos had to rethink how they worked with their core suppliers to maximize their impact on the business. Emerson was the first supplier that they chose to collaborate with more strategically, and developed a novel approach to strategy development and subsequent improvement initiatives that have been pioneered.

Emerson’s Natalie Grothause


Emerson’s Natalie Grothause will present, PSS Lifecycle Services Update – SureService Program. Her abstract:

Selecting the correct lifecycle approach for your DeltaV control system doesn’t have to be a daunting task! Attend this session to learn how we reformulated our Lifecycle Services offerings into user defined SureService packages. Each of the four packaged-services offerings provide you with the flexibility to decide to what degree you want Emerson involved in taking care of your system maintenance, reliability and performance needs. Come to learn which tier best matches your needs and how easy it can be to ensure your systems are maintained for reliability and performance.

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