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Temperature Transmitters as a Bellwether

In efforts to reduce costs and increase production, one of the strongest performing sectors of the automation market over the past few years has been asset management technologies. The growth in this sector is highlighted by a concurrent growth in use of smart temperature transmitters.

Ralph Whitney, head of instrument/electrical reliability at Nova Chemicals.
Ralph Whitney, head of instrument/electrical reliability at Nova Chemicals.

Automation technologies such as the temperature transmitter don't often receive much attention aside from the interest engineers place in them as part of production monitoring or in equipment replacement and new project development. It turns out, however, that temperature transmitters are something of a bellwether for the automation industry.

According to a new market research study from ARC Advisory Group, “Temperature Transmitter Worldwide Outlook”, the positive growth in the temperature transmitter market in 2011 stems from “a continued emphasis on plant asset management and fieldbus technology.” The study notes that the increase in temperature transmitters last year was largely due to orders from growing markets such as oil & gas, chemical, and electric power.

ARC says that, beyond temperatures transmitters’ basic ability to send temperature data needed for optimal production, smart temperature transmitters offer diagnostic capabilities that help end users strengthen their asset management initiatives. The bottom line benefits of plant asset management technologies has led to a level of growth and spending on these systems that outpaces that of the automation industry in general. ARC sees this trend continuing as end users seek to reduce maintenance costs and increase production availability using tools such as predictive diagnostics and software-based configuration solutions.

One asset management application I recently learned of tends to bear out ARC’s assessment. Nova Chemicals’ Corunna site in Ontario, Canada, is a refinery and petrochemical complex that supplies 30 to 40 percent of Canada’s total requirements for petrochemicals. The company initially purchased Emerson Process Management’s AMS Device Manager software to manage 100 tags in its control system in 1999. Over the years, the number of tags managed by AMS has increased to 4,000.

Recounting Nova’s progressive use of the AMS Device Manager, Ralph Whitney, head of instrument/electrical reliability at Nova Chemicals, says the project started with the Rosemount 848T temperature transmitter connected to DeltaV via Foundation Fieldbus to AMS Device Manager. The setup was initially used to diagnose thermocouple issues and increase the reliability of a key compressor. In 2005, AMS was integrated with the plant’s DCS via a HART multiplexer. That’s when the tag count really exploded.

“We wanted AMS to deal with all the nuisance alarms operators had to deal with when the system was expanded to 3,000 tags,” said Whitney.

Read more about the Nova Chemicals experience in expanding its asset management system. And take note that Ralph Whitney will be explaining Nova Chemicals automation strategy around the development of its asset management system at The Automation Conference in May 2013.

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