The Hart Communication Foundation (HCF, www.hartcomm.org), announced on Dec. 16 the selection of We Energies, Milwaukee, for the Hart Innovative Achievement Award. The award recognizes exceptional achievement, ingenuity and innovation in using the power of Hart Communication in real-time applications to improve operations and maintenance and to realize greater benefits from intelligent instrumentation and automation system investments, the HCF said.
We Energies, a subsidiary of Wisconsin Energy Corp. (www.wisconsinenergy.com), is using Hart Communication technology in all lifecycle phases of operation including design, construction, device configuration, loop check, operations, maintenance, troubleshooting and insurance compliance testing in all ten of its power plants.
“Hart Communication provides the ability to look inside a device to determine if it is healthy or not,” said Todd Gordon, computer instrument technician leader at We Energies’ Valley Power Plant. “You don’t know what you don’t know. We learned that using Hart technology for full-time communication with our instrumentation helps us to better manage our key measurements and control valves—saving us both time and money.”
“We were impressed with how extensively We Energies is using Hart Communication throughout their plant operations,” said Ron Helson, HCF executive director. “They are requiring all new devices and control systems to be Hart-capable, taking full advantage of the communication and intelligent capabilities of their instrumentation systems.”
Hart smart valve positioners have been in use at We Energies since 1999, providing diagnostic capabilities that have allowed engineers to detect and troubleshoot problems while the valves are in operation. “Hart Communication helps to pinpoint problems before mechanics start taking valves apart,” Gordon observed. “A leaking valve diaphragm which has been identified with diagnostics can be replaced without removing the valve. We have found numerous problems before they affected plant operations.”
Hart Communication has allowed We Energies to move to predictive maintenance for measurement, control and safety instruments in key applications. “We have realized substantial cost savings by monitoring valve condition remotely and identifying valves that are leaking steam or losing instrument air,” Gordon said.
Gordon suggests a straightforward approach on how to get started using Hart technology. “Identify a specific system or operational plant problem, speak to the field techs that have worked on this problem, designate a Hart champion, then concentrate on one aspect of the problem at a time,” he said. “It also helps to prioritize problem devices that could shut down the plant and focus on the highest priority devices.”