There are many articles and documented examples of how using the intelligence in smart measurement and control devices can significantly improve the operation’s reliability and operational performance. As a major component to reliability or asset management systems, the smart field device provides extensive device and process information that can lower maintenance and operation costs.
The MOL Group’s Danube Refinery in Százhalombatta, Hungary, set-out to improve their operation and decided to overhaul its maintenance systems with a new, unified asset management system strategy. The combination of the information in their installed smart devices and their maintenance on-line system has changed the MOL maintenance strategy and the way it uses the diagnostic data available in the field device. The on-line systems use FDT Technology embedded in their device configuration and maintenance systems; PRM from Yokogawa and FDM from Honeywell; enabling fast, simple and safe device configuration and diagnostics as an important part of their on-line maintenance system strategy.
By using these systems, they support the field instrumentation maintenance activity providing information used to: identify the location of an asset problem, for device repair, and remotely accessing device information and changing the device configuration. Using the wealth of the available information, their goal was to improve maintenance processes, and human competencies and skills.
According to Gabor Bereznai, MOL instrumentation and electrical department head, “I would like to emphasize that the FDT Technology is one portion of the total solution which includes several systems developments. I think many companies, including the big ones, often underestimate the need to improve both the process and the human side of the activity. That’s why many times they are not able to fully utilize the benefits of available and installed technology.” Gabor comments on the importance of provided people with the information they can use to maximize their performance.
The three MOL Refineries currently have about 30,000 smart devices with approximately 90% installed at the Danube location. Devices at the Danube Refinery are connected to an on-line system using both HART and FOUNDATION fieldbus field communication technology – many of these having DTMs that provide simple and fast information access which is traceable - documenting device status and changes. In the 15 key production units, there are 3,855 instruments connected to the CMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System). The maintenance staff, including engineers and technicians benefit from having quick access to information that provides early warning of potential problems.
Using a combination of the device DTM (similar to a device driver that is included with a new printer) and the PRM or FDM device management tool (examples of a Frame Application), they are able to: diagnose problems with smart devices, perform loop checks, modify the configuration and get a visual overview (range, alarms, etc.) of the device. This information is available from a safe and secure location which reduces the number of trips into the production area and provides faster response to potential problems.
The Frames Applications and DTMs support the preventive maintenance strategy with self-diagnostic and condition monitoring. Examples: by reading the cell temperature of a pressure transmitter, they check the impulse-line heaters. This is critical in order to avoid slow-downs or a shut-down of production. Also, reading the set-point and the current travel of control valves by accessing information in the valve positioners, they are able to know the status of the valve’s condition. Reading other parameters such as drive-signal (or drive current), supply pressure and cycle-count, they are able to have information that helps troubleshoot and prevent problems. This information is unique and essential to make on-time decisions in order to avoid slow-downs or shut-downs. As shown on the left, about 32,000 installed devices are intelligent providing the capability of access to their device information which includes; process measurements, device status, device diagnostics, troubleshooting guides and much more.
“We gather information before a turnaround using device diagnostics, which in the case of control valves, saves us $20,000 - $70,000 per turnaround – making us more predictive and proactive and less reactive.” says Bereznai. “The DTM provides fast detailed device checks with a visualized faceplate and a simple to understand device overview.” As shown in the chart on the right, there is a significant reduction in the number of control valves that have to be removed, repaired and replaced during a unit turnaround. Before each scheduled turnaround, each valve’s diagnostics are checked to determine which control valves actually need to be repaired during the turnaround; saving both time and money.
In today’s economic situation of reduced maintenance budgets and manpower, it is reasonable to look for non-traditional ways to remain competitive. A change in maintenance strategy from reactive to predictive is not easy. A change to improved or proactive asset management is not easy. Using the intelligence in the installed measurement assets could provide big returns on the investment. The old proverb, it takes a village to raise a child, also applies to automation – it takes the entire plant operation to improve plant reliability and performance. Integrating intelligent device information, providing the tools to access the information and training the human resources – maintenance technicians, engineers, unit operators and management - to more fully understand and use this valuable information is part of their future plans. The image above demonstrates the significant benefit in the reduction of control valve maintenance costs without and with the use of intelligent device diagnostics.
FDT Technology provides the core element of effective asset management system. By being supplier, protocol and system independent, it provides a window into the intelligent measurement devices that have a direct influence on the profitability and availability of the operation. As in the case of MOL, plant performance can be significantly improved if users are willing to access and use the intelligent device information for more than just configuration.