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Hart Plant of the Year Goes to Sasol

The 2005 award recognizes the South African solvent manufacturer for innovative use of Hart communication technology.

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And the winner is: the Sasol Solvents and O&S SMG Operations plant, a maker of solvents used in paints and inks, located in Sasolburg, South Africa. With more than $2 million in documented savings attributed to effective use of Hart communications technology, the Sasol plant is recipient of the 2005 Hart Plant of the Year Award.

“These guys have done a tremendous job, and probably the best I’ve ever seen in documenting the benefits of using Hart communication and what it means to this plant,” said Ron Helson, executive director of the Hart Communication Foundation, in announcing the award during the recent ISA Expo 2005 show in Chicago. The Hart award, presented annually since 2002, goes to end user companies deemed to have demonstrated ingenuity in the application of Hart, a field communication protocol designed for use with smart instruments.

Early warning

The Sasol plant uses Hart communication for continuous full-time monitoring of 3,500 Hart-enabled instruments and control valves. One of the plant’s main objectives was to move from a “run-to-failure” maintenance philosophy to a predictive maintenance strategy, said Sasol Engineering Manager Johan Claassen. The goal was to lower fixed costs and to avoid or prevent unscheduled plant shutdowns by using device diagnostics to warn of pending problems.

That goal has apparently been met. Helson said that $1.66 million in savings for Sasol came through the avoidance of three plant shutdowns that would have been unplanned.

“The biggest benefit of using the Hart protocol is the capability to access online device diagnostic information from our intelligent Hart-enabled devices and control valves,” said Claassen. The technology provides the ability to detect and perform preventive maintenance on faulty devices before they cause problems. “It helps me do my job better because I can log-in in the morning and get a health status on all my instruments. It frees up my time to do things I just couldn’t do before.”


The Hart Communication Foundation also recognized the Lonza biopharmaceutical plant in Visp, Switzerland, as a Hart Plant of the Year program finalist. The Lonza plant—which produces Niacin, a B-complex vitamin—is using 1,300 Hart-enabled devices in an all-digital mode. The plant uses Hart communication to improve loop accuracy, to speed up device configuration and to better document and validate the device configuration.

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