Projects, Optimization and Risk Analysis at AIChE Spring Meeting

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In an earlier post, we previewed some of the Big Data presentations which will take place at the upcoming April 26-30 2015 AIChE Spring Meeting here in Austin, Texas. There are several other presentation by Emerson folks I wanted to highlight.

Laurie Ben will be presenting Control System Migration Gone Wild – Best Practices & Lessons Learned and An Introduction to the Early Planning Process for Plant Automation Projects. Here is the migration presentation abstract:

Emerson's Laurie Ben


You have configured the new automation system and reviewed the checklist. Now at start up, loops are not performing the way you expected. Valves are cycling, the process appears to be going wild. What did you forget? Where do you start? We will look at real projects were the conversions did not go as planned. We will discuss lessons learned and share field-proven best practices to minimize the risk of this happening on your migration project.

Understanding both the legacy and a modern system architectures and control function details are key for successful system migration. Differences of both systems must be fully understood to enable a successful migration to the new platform. Discussions of easily overlooked differences at the base control level is key to provide the required functionality needed for successful start-up.

Here’s the early planning process presentation abstract:

Front End Engineering, FEL1,2, & 3, Feasibility Analysis, Conceptual Engineering, PPP What does it all mean? When do you need to do it? What does it include? How does it affect your automation project?

Introduction to the early planning process involved with capital projects and the impact of early planning on those projects. The focus will be on understanding the terms used, the amount of engineering and cost/benefit as well as risk mitigation information needed as your project moves through the various “management” gates of approval.

While information will be applicable to all capital projects, the focus will be on existing facilities and their automation modernization projects, i.e. brownfield automation projects.

James Beall also will have two presentations, A Tutorial on Model Based Loop Tuning and Impact of Control Valve Performance on Control Performance. Here’s the abstract for the loop tuning tutorial:

Emerson's James Beall


This presentation provides a tutorial on tuning PID process controllers using the Lambda process model based tuning methodology. This tuning methodology allows the user to “coordinate” the response of related controllers in order to optimize the process performance rather than simply focusing on individual “optimized controller tuning”. For example, is the process optimized by controlling the process variable (PV) close to the set point with aggressive moves of the controller output, or, is it optimized by allowing the PV to vary from the set point with less movement of the controller output? Either object can be easily met with this tuning methodology. Another application of this tuning methodology is the coordination of cascade loops. How do you know the tuning results in primary controller response being at least 5 -10 times faster than the secondary controller response? These questions are easily answered using the Lambda loop tuning method. The tuning equations will be explained and plant examples will be used to illustrate the concepts and results.

Here is James’ control valve performance presentation abstract:

A significant amount of time is often spent specifying and selecting the proper control valve for the application. However, this effort is generally focused on the physical properties of the valve such as metallurgy, erosion and corrosion specification, shutoff classification, fugitive emissions requirements, actuator type, positioner type, etc. While these aspects are critical to the performance of a control valve, there are other performance metrics that are vital to the good performance the control loop that manipulates the control valve. These include such metrics such as dead band, resolution, travel gain and step response time. Often poor performance in these areas can significantly reduce the performance of the control loop, sometimes even preventing operation in the automatic mode. The definition and importance of these valve performance metrics will be explained and field examples will be provided.

And, last but not least, Gary Hawkins has two presentations, Instrument Problem or Process Problem? That Is the Question… and I’d like the Answer Now! and Risk Analysis of Wired Versus Wireless Transmission of Process Measurements. Here is the instrument/process problem abstract:

Emerson's Gary Hawkins


Instrument Problem or Process Problem? That is the question… and I’d like the answer now! This session will explore a variety of issues with process measurement and control in the process industries – from the transmitters and installation to the controllers to the control valves. From the common issues to the less well known. The key to profitability in the process industries like oil refining and petrochemicals is on-stream availability. This session is intended for both those new to process automation and the old-timers to come share their experiences.

Here is the abstract for Gary’s wired vs. wireless risk analysis presentation: Continue Reading

Establishing Effective Corrosion Monitoring

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As oil and gas flow through pipes and processing facilities, so do other elements which contribute to corrosion. Effectively managing this corrosion is critical to ongoing safety, reliability, and efficient operation.

Emerson's Jyotsna Joshi


In a recent Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Global Integrated Workshop Series in Malaysia, Emerson’s Jyotsna Joshi presented, Putting in Place An Effective Corrosion Monitoring Program – Meeting Recent Developments, The Rise of Wireless & Combining Different Technologies Into One. In her presentation, Jyotsna explored corrosion and sand erosion challenges in the oil and gas production industry and actions help mitigate these challenges.

There are a range of corrosion and erosion issues faced both by the upstream and downstream oil and gas industry. As producing fields age, the water cut in the produced fluids increases. This increase coupled with more sand production leads to increased corrosion and erosion. Also where hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is present, it is an additional source of corrosion. Also, as the gas/oil ratio (GOR) increases, so does the fluid flow velocities which increases the effect of erosion caused by sand particles in the produced fluid.

Downstream in refineries, as refiners look to improve margins through lower cost “opportunity crudes”, these crudes may contain high total acid number (TAN) which can lead to high temperature naphthenic acid corrosion (NAC) causing reliability issues in crude feedstock heaters, furnaces, transfer lines, feed and reflux sections of distillation columns, atmospheric and vacuum columns, and heat exchangers and condensers.

Jyotsna outlined several ways producers and refiners are addressing these corrosion challenges: Continue Reading

Detecting Gas Leaks with Ultrasonic Technology

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Across the hydrocarbon production and processing industries, safety is paramount given the combustibility of oil and gas.

Emerson's Megan McCoy


Ultrasonic-Gas-Leak-WPI saw a recent whitepaper developed by Emerson’s Megan McCoy on ultrasonic gas detection technology. The whitepaper, Ultrasonic Gas Leak Detection – Your First Line of Defense describes how this technology plays an important role in early warning of dangerous gas leak conditions.

She notes in the whitepaper that several gas detection technologies exist:

catalytic bead and infrared point detectors along with open path infrared perimeter detectors.

Megan explains that leak detection systems are the first line of defense against toxic or combustible gas leaks. These can occur in many ways. Some examples include:

…defective seals or gaskets, valve misalignment, or failure of flanges or other equipment.

Ultrasonic gas leak detection technology has several advantages over other technologies including detection before hazardous concentrations occur, weather, wind direction and noise insensitivity, detection not requiring immersion in vapor cloud, and a wider coverage radius up to 40 meters. Continue Reading

Helping Miners Validate Water Balance Plans

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Emerson's Juan Carlos Bravo


Author: Juan Carlos Bravo

In previous blog posts we have talk extensively about water problems in mining and how water is one of top issues miners are dealing with today. The reason I come back to this topic is because I recently read an interview with professor Dirk Van Zyl, an expert in tailings and mined earth structures and a professor at University of British Columbia. He gave the interview as part of the Mine Water Solutions conference that took place in Vancouver during the week of April 12th, 2015.

In this interview professor Van Zyl says that mine water is really one of the most important pieces because either a mine has too much or has too little. It’s very seldom that a mine has just enough. If they have too much water, then miners may have storage issues, and may have issues with water treatment. If they have too little water, then they have to find water supplies and some mines go as far as desalinating ocean water and pumping it hundreds of kilometers at very high elevation heads to the mines.

So overall, mining companies are paying more and more attention to the mine water issues that they are dealing with. It is also an issue that affects the communities very much because in many cases it is a choice of using water for a mine or having it available for agriculture. That is the case in especially some of the drier regions of Chile and Peru.

One of the most interesting questions of the interview is when he was asked the number one thing that miners get wrong regarding water; he answered that all mines have water balance plans in place right now. One of the toughest pieces is having a way to validate that model. That takes time, effort, and commitment to make it happen. Continue Reading

Big Data at AIChE Spring Meeting

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AIChE-logoAustin, Texas, already a hotbed for technology as recently recognized by Forbes magazine, will host a gathering of chemical engineering professionals later this month. The AIChE is hosting the 2015 Spring Meeting and 11th Global Congress on Process Safety here on April 26-30.

If you’re planning to attend, make sure to catch some of the “Big Data” sessions to see how this data is being applied in our world of process instrumentation and automation. I’ll highlight two sessions featuring members of our Emerson team here in Austin.

On Monday, April 27 at 3:30pm, Emerson’s Mark Nixon, Terry Blevins, Willy Wojsznis and John Caldwell will present, Industrial Big Data Vision and Solutions. Here’s an excerpt from the session abstract:

Emerson's Mark Nixon


Emerson's Terry Blevins


Emerson's Willy Wojsznis


Emerson's John Caldwell


The process industries adopt many Big Data approaches that are applied in other industries however the Big Data implementation for Process Industries is distinctive in that it sets specific requirements for Big Data infrastructure, learning algorithms including data analytics, and presenting the results.

The presentation will address the basic components of Big Data pipeline for the process industry: hardware and software infrastructure, data streaming, data preprocessing and data learning techniques.

The core of data learning is Data Analytics (DA) which has proven its effectiveness in process fault detection and quality prediction both for batch and continuous processes. The real prospects are that Big Data based on DA will be among the leading directions for improving process effectiveness. DA requires a significant departure from the traditional thinking about how process control is implemented. Instead of the deterministic and tangible world of signals and devices, there is an abstract realm of statistical indexes, correlation factors and matrix operations. This puts a significant strain on the control systems’ developers, engineering companies, process operation and maintenance personnel. The presentation will address these major challenges for professionals working on Big Data for the process industry.

Mark, Terry, Willy and John will also present Tuesday, April 28 at 2pm on Embedded Analytics in Industry Big Data Applications. Here is the abstract: Continue Reading