Getting Alarms Right the First Time or Fixing Later

As distributed control systems, human-machine interface (HMI)-based control systems and safety instrumented systems came along, adding alarms was easy and close to free. The problem they introduced was too many too often—whether immediate action was warranted or not. The ISA 18.2 alarm management standard was developed to help manufacturers and producers optimize the alarms to minimize alarm flooding conditions and provide clear notification when action was required.

Emerson's Matt Stoner


I bring this up because there is a thoughtful conversation going on in a LinkedIn status update I shared this morning. This update featured Emerson’s Matt Stoner and a short video where he describes good and bad alarms and where a plant might be with respect to the ISA 18.2 standard.

Here’s the short minute and a half video, Cut through the Noise: Creating a Better Alarm System.

A comment came in from an oil & gas industry veteran with long experience in instrumentation and controls: Continue Reading

Fugitive Emissions Compliant Ball Valves

In 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published Leak Detection and Repair, A Best Practices Guide. Here is how the EPA describes this guide.

Leaking equipment, such as valves, pumps, and connectors, are a large source of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and volatile hazardous air pollutants (VHAPs)

The Leak Detection and Repair: A Best Practices Guide – is intended for use by regulated entities, such as petroleum refineries and chemical manufacturing facilities, as well as compliance inspectors. The guide details some of the problems identified with leak detection and repair (LDAR) programs. It focuses on Method 21 requirements, and describes the practices that can be used to increase the effectiveness of an LDAR program.

Emerson's Jeff Roseneder


I came across a Valve User article, Emerson Ball Valve Solutions Meet Stringent Fugitive Emissions Requirements and thought of Emerson’s Jeff Roseneder who manages the KTM brand of ball valves. This article opens describing the EPA’s push to:

…increase enforcement of regulations through negotiation of enhanced Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) decrees, with greater emphasis on all industrial plants, increasing the traction to adopt and enforce compliance standards, and increased corporate emphasis on reducing emissions due to lost product revenues and importance of fugitive emissions in the overall process.

Valve User: Emerson Ball Valve Solutions Meet Stringent Fugitive Emissions RequirementsThe article defines fugitive emissions (FE) as:

…unintentional emissions of gases or vapors from pressurized equipment due to leaks and other unintended or irregular releases of gases, mostly from contained industrial processes.

Some regulatory limits for fugitive emissions are specified by:

…the Clean Air Act, USA, EPA Procedure 21, and TA-Luft, Germany, VDI 2440. Well-known standards and specifications provide a path to compliance with these laws. These include ISO 15848-1 & 2; API 624; Shell MESC 77- 300/312 and TA Luft VDI 2440.

For ball valves requiring fugitive emissions compliance: Continue Reading

Onshore Direct from the Wellhead Multiphase Flow Measurement

Indications keep coming in that the oil & gas production business, particularly in unconventional oil & gas production, continues to improve. This RBN Energy article, Ready To Run – Strong Capex Boost By ConocoPhillips Headlines Early 2018 Guidance is one example of this business improvement trend. The article notes how oil & gas producers have continued to lower their “costs of supply” of production.

Technology advancements have played a role in lowering this cost of supply. Shale oil & gas regions have used test separators to measure the oil, gas and water components in the producing wells. This 4-minute YouTube video, Roxar Multiphase Meter 2600, illustrates how modular, three-phase flow measurement improves both project capital efficiency and ongoing operational efficiency. Continue Reading

Improving Refinery Fuel Blending Operations

For a refinery, the efficiency and reliability of the fuel blending operations largely determines its overall financial performance. These fuels, including gasoline, diesel, fuel oils, jet fuel, and kerosene require the right blend of fuel components and additives such as anti-oxidants, anti-knock agents, octane enhancers and more to meet their specifications for sale. Exceeding the specifications, also known as product giveaway, is a lost opportunity for greater revenues—and not meeting the specifications creates additional rework costs.

Emerson's Arnie Josefson


I caught up with Emerson’s Arnold Josefson about these challenges and how optimizing the design of the fuel blending process can reduce product giveaway and rework costs.

Arnie described an example where a European refiner needed to modernize a newly acquired refinery. This plant required instrumentation and automation modernization for more flexible operations to meet customer demands. Also, the refinery needed to cost-effectively comply with the European Union fuel standards and reduce excessive giveaway. In the United States, refiners are similarly challenged with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel regulations and standards. Continue Reading

Point and Continuous Level Measurement in Water and Wastewater Applications

Emerson's Lydia Miller


Across many industries, level measurements are critical ones for safe and reliable operations. This is true for the water and wastewater industries. The choice of technologies for these measurements is broad, especially since they fall into two categories point-based (on/off switching) and continuous.

Water Online: Point Versus Continuous Level Measuring TechnologiesIn a Water Online article, Point Versus Continuous Level Measuring Technologies, Emerson’s Lydia Miller provides guidance on the technologies and which ones are best suited for particular applications.

Lydia opens noting that level measurements are not just for determining the height of the liquid in vessels, but also are used to calculate volume, flow rate, and as inputs for pump control.

She describes the range of common level measurement technologies:

Point measurement technologies include float switches, vibrating forks, capacitive, and others. Continuous level technologies include radar, ultrasonic, magnetostrictive, capacitive, float-and-tape, differential pressure, and others.

Point-level measurements are often used because: Continue Reading