Process Reliability System Screen ShotWhen it comes to investing in technology there are often times multiple parts to a complete solution.  For example. when HDTVs became available, many people couldn’t realize the benefit as there was little HD content.  Along the same line, people who invested in Blu-Ray players couldn’t realize the benefit, as there were few BD movies available.  Conversely, there were also people who purchased a game system that only worked with an HDTV (oddly enough the game system manufacturer also offered HDTVs).  For a true HD experience, there must be HDTVs, HD sources and HD content.  The same is true with asset management.  You need an asset management system, field devices with diagnostics and installation using best practices.

The foundation to a good asset management system is the host server with software.  The system will monitor all of the devices and provide alerts when there is a problem.  It should be able to run indecently of your control system and not have any impact on the performance.  The interface should be intuitive and the front page should present key performance indicators (KPIs).  It should also have the flexibility to be customized and integrate with a number of process instruments.  Naturally, it needs to communicate with many control systems hosts.

An AMS host will work with most smart devices, monitoring basic diagnostic data.  For a transmitter, this could be a measurement that is out of range, or an electronics problem.   Basic diagnostic information only reports problems with the device.  However, to capture the true power of an AMS, field devices with advanced diagnostics should be considered.  Transmitters that provide Statistical Process Monitoring give you tremendous insight into your process, not just the device.  While there may not be a problem with the instrument, cavitating pumps or plugged impulse lines can be detected.  There are many more process conditions that SPM can identify and alert.  Partial Stroke Testing (PST) for control valves can also be performed with an AMS and advance positioned diagnostics.

The third piece to the solution is implementing best installation practices.  The best AMS software and instruments will be of little value if the field devices are not used correctly.  There are many published best practices for devices including integral differential pressure (DP) measurement (eliminates impulse piping), Tuned System for DP level (direct mount on high side) and wake calculations for thermowells (ASME PTC 19.3 standard).  This helps ensure the best possible measurement is being made.

All three of these are vital to your process reliability system.  Having instruments with advanced diagnostics will be of little benefit if there is not a mechanism to monitor them (it is rare that people take advantage of basic diagnostic information).  Having an AMS without smart devices with not realize any value.  As discussed, all devices have to be applied correctly.

It is my recommendation that an AMS strategy be used on critical applications.  These are defined as systems that are critical to process reliability, quality or safety.  Since many AMS servers come with predetermined tag number, you may also be able to include noncritical devices with basic diagnostics on the system.  It behooves you to understand that capabilities of an AMS, what information can be derived and the best way to apply the technology.  Once understood, you have a great way to invest in your process reliability system.

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