It’s time to get smart

More than half of plant operators admit that less than 20% of their control instrumentation is equipped with on-board intelligence. In fact, just 16% of sites are currently enjoying the benefits of having 60% or more of their instrumentation in-the-loop with communications such as HART, Fieldbus or Profibus.
Unfortunately, that means that vast swathes of the process industries are missing out on some big benefits and it’s time to change the situation. In today’s tough economic environment, companies can scarcely afford not to.

Take maintenance. Few serious operators can afford to wait for assets to stop working before they maintain them – the downtime would be a killer. On the other hand, rigid planned maintenance schedules inevitably mean that you’ve got personnel out and about “fixing” equipment before there’s any hint of failure.
In fact, according to some estimates in the marketplace, as many as 35% of trips into the field are for routine checks, 28% are for non-existing problems, 20% are for calibration shifts, 6% are for “zero off” and 6% for plugged lines. Just 4% are actually for failed instruments.

That’s just one reason why operators stand to make significant savings if they can equip their field instruments with on-board diagnostics that enable true, predictive maintenance. For example, on-board diagnostics means operators can extend the calibration interval for many instruments from six months to as much as five years without increasing the risk of outages and downtime.

So it’s no surprise to find that of those companies already making use of on-board intelligence, more than three quarters (77%) are looking to improve their maintenance programmes.

We’re constantly being reminded about how tough times are, so efficiency savings of any magnitude are not to be sniffed at. Field-based intelligence can typically improve overall process efficiency by at least 2% during normal operations by enabling close control. For example, the ability to compensate automatically for changing conditions means that pressure instruments are 10 times more accurate today than they were 20 years ago.

Heavily legislated aspects of operation, including health and safety and environmental performance, are also key areas that can benefit from a more integrated, communicative control system.

Still unconvinced that you’ve got room for improvement? Why not check out our benchmarking tool at www.howdoyoumeasureupabb.com. It only takes a few minutes to fill out the survey and you’ll be able to see how well your instrumentation and control approach measures up against other players in the process industry.

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