Essential Asset Monitoring at UT Separations Research Program

20121010-093825.jpgThe University of Texas at Austin’s Steve Briggs and Emerson’s Nikki Bishop presented “Essential Asset Monitoring Keeps UT-Austin Out of a “Pickle” at PRC” at the 2012 Emerson Exchange. Their abstract:

Traditionally, process plants were built with the minimum amount of instrumentation,only that which was necessary to safely operate.Only the most expensive assets were deemed critical enough warrant monitoring and protection systems.However, many of these unmonitored assets are still essential to safe and profitable operation. The AMS Asset Graphics Essential Asset Monitoring Suite installed at UT-Austin’s Pickle Research Center provides useful insight into the health of essential assets. Operators can now see the health of pumps, blowers and heat exchangers without leaving the control room.

Nikki opened by providing a background on essential asset management. Anything that could cause a process disturbance, slowdown, or shutdown is essential to plant operations. Nikki shared common contributors to plant downtime, and the essential asset outages are a leading cause. See the post Essential Asset Monitoring that Nikki shared at ISA Automation Week for more background.

Steve shared his experiences at the Pickle Research Center as part of the Separations Research Program. Distillation research is done for sponsors within the processing industries. Steve showed a CO2 capture process with gas accumulators, absorbers, condensers, and strippers. The critical assets for the process include blowers, cross exchangers, boiler and pumps.

The stripper bottoms pump is instruments with a CSI 9420 wireless vibration transmitter. Given that this process is to collect data for research, when any critical asset is down, the entire process is down. There are no backups or spares in the lean-running operation.

The blower is instrumented with wireless transmitters which transmits back to the DeltaV system that controls the process. Frank shared a story where the blower instrumented with a wireless transmitter detected a blower vibration problem, but it was not mapped back to an alert for the plant staff. The blower failed and took the process down for several weeks. Nikki shared that the alerts from the wireless transmitter were then mapped back to the DeltaV system to provide early warning to head off future events.

Nikki shared how remote monitoring by experts can help reduce downtime. Plant staff can be notified when abnormal conditions are detected.

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