Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

ABB continues its fight against water leakage by hosting key industry workshop

July 21, 2015

ABB UK’s Daresbury HQ was the venue for a dedicated workshop held by the Sensors for Water Industry Group (SWIG) looking at the latest technologies and techniques for tackling the ongoing problem of water leakage.

Despite the considerable work that has been undertaken in recent years to tackle the issue of leakage from the UK’s water distribution networks, substantial volumes of water are continuing to be lost every day. Although many water companies have hit their original leakage targets, a significant number are keen to find ways to achieve further reductions, prompted in part by the new focus on TOTEX.

Shifting the emphasis from ‘outputs’ to ‘outcomes’, TOTEX effectively rewards companies that take steps to increase customer satisfaction by improving their performance.

In the case of leakage, there is a desire to meet customer demands for reduce leakage as well as to minimise the need to abstract extra water by taking steps to better manage existing supplies.

The workshop represented a broad range of interests, with speakers from Yorkshire Water, Artesia Consulting, the WRc and Sheffield University. The supply chain was also represented, with various speakers from different companies, including ourselves, outlining our latest technologies for detecting and managing water leakage.

In his presentation entitled ‘Leakage asset management for the 21st century’, Alan Hunt, Electromagnetic Flow Product Specialist for ABB Measurement & Analytics, described the benefits of ABB’s new AquaMaster 3 with WITS (Water Industry Telemetry Standard) DNP 3.

The flowmeter is the first to use open platform communications, enabling operators to obtain near real-time flowrate and pressure data with advanced device-level intelligence without the obstacles associated with integration into their existing control systems. The inclusion of quad band GPRS radio technology also ensures reliable, low cost connectivity in virtually all remote locations.

By helping to disseminate information about the latest best practices and technologies for water leakage, the workshop forms a key part of ABB’s strategy to help our water industry customers find ways to manage their operations more effectively.

SWIG events provide the opportunity for water industry end users, consultants and supply chain providers like ourselves to share knowledge and experiences and to build strong partnerships to help our UK & Ireland Water Utilities achieve their business outcomes.

Originally formed in 1993, SWIG (www.swig.org.uk) aims to provide a forum for manufacturers, end users and researchers in the sensor community to test new ideas, exchange views and network.

As such, it promotes the dissemination of information on sensor developments and fosters collaboration through targeted workshops, as well as representing the interests of the water and wastewater quality sensor community to the Government, European organisations and other interested bodies.

Copies of the various presentations from the event, including Alan Hunt’s, can be downloaded at SWIG’s web site at http://www.swig.org.uk/event/leakage-workshop/.

For more information about the AquaMaster 3 with WITS DNP 3, visit tinyurl.com/ABBAquaMaster, call 0870 600 6122 or email moreinstrumentation@gb.abb.com ref. ‘AquaMaster 3’.

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New ABB data recorder puts your process at your fingertips

March 26, 2014

We are delighted to announce the launch of ABB’s new RVG200 paperless data recorder incorporates a number of advanced features giving operators slick, easy and secure access to process data.

A key feature is the RVG200’s use of touchscreen technology. By using the device’s intuitive icon-based menus or ‘swiping’ through the screens, operators can rapidly find the data they need. This data can be viewed in a variety of formats, including individual or grouped data in chart, bar graph or digital indicator displays.

Up to 24 universal analog inputs enable direct connection of mA, mV, TC, RTD, voltage and digital signals. Coupled with a 125mS sample rate and 500V galvanic channel to channel isolation, these inputs deliver reliable, highly accurate, data from connected process instruments.

The high specification of the process inputs ensure they are AMS2750E compliant, making the RVG200 suitable for temperature recording in aerospace and automotive heat treatment processes.

Another new feature is the inclusion of front and rear USB ports. Users can connect a variety of peripheral devices, such as a USB memory drive, enabling archived process data to be transferred from the RVG200 to ABB’s DataManager Pro software for analysis.

For batch applications, attaching a USB barcode scanner provides a quick way of adding information including batch numbers to batch records and eliminates the risk of typographical errors that can occur during manual entry.

Integrating the RVG200 into a plant network is made straightforward by the inclusion of a 100Mbit Ethernet connection, giving remote operators access to a range of features and functions. The RVG200’s integrated webserver enables remote access from a PC, tablet or smartphone, providing a true anytime, anyplace overview of both the current status of the RVG200 and the process it is monitoring.

Keeping up to date with the latest process alarms or critical process events is made possible by email notifications which can be automatically sent to an operator’s PC or smartphone. Alternatively, the RVG200 can be configured to routinely email summary reports of process conditions.

Real-time process data can be communicated to and from the RVG200 using MODBUS over Ethernet or RS485, providing an excellent way to integrate the RVG200 in to a control or PLC system so that it can perform secure data recording and visualisation duties. Capable of acting in master (client) mode, the RVG200 can be used to collect data from other devices, which can be displayed on screen and archived alongside process signals directly connected to the RVG200.

As with all devices in the ScreenMaster paperless recorder range, the RVG200 features extensive security measures to protect against unauthorised tampering with process data, compliant with FDA 21 CFR Part 11 requirements. Standard security features include the ability to configure and allocate multiple users with individual password and access rights. All recorded data is also securely stored by the RVG200’s 256Mb of internal flash memory, which can be expanded to 2Gb if required.

A further protection feature is the inclusion of a lock fitted to the media door, preventing unauthorised access to the memory card and front USB port. In addition, the RVG200’s configuration and field terminals can be sealed with a tamper-evident security seal, ideal for regulatory controlled processes.

Data integrity is protected by an internal audit trail, which logs any configuration changes made and records who made the changes and when, as well as the details of all datafiles created and many other events key to process data security, such as calibration changes.

Why it pays to pay more for safety (Part 2)

February 19, 2014

In our last blog, we looked at the real costs that can arise where safety takes a back seat and explained some of the factors behind the higher costs of specialised instrumentation and control equipment for safety applications.

In this blog, we’ll be looking at the parameters that define the overall effectiveness of a safety loop and will show why opting for higher integrity equipment can save money in the long term.

Let’s start by looking at the required Safety Integrity Level (SIL), as defined by IEC 61508. IEC 61508 is the “mother” standard that spawned corresponding “daughter” standards for the process industries (IEC 61511), nuclear facilities (IEC 61513) and machinery (IEC 62061). It is not a legal requirement for British businesses, but HSE accepts it as good practice.

Confusion can often arise when it comes to designing a safety system as it’s not as simple as just applying a blanket SIL to cover an entire process. Instead, operators must first consider the individual safety instrumented functions (SIF) within a process, these being the functions of a given device that are necessary to protect against a hazardous event. This can then be used as the basis for designing and engineering the safety system solution, consisting of the inputs, the logic solver and the final elements, including instrumentation.

As a general rule, it is almost always better to design risk out of a process before installing specialised systems to control it. This will often reduce the required SIL and therefore the cost of the safety systems needed to deliver it.

Next is the average probability of failure on demand (PFD). The acceptable PFD of a system varies depending on the required SIL as well as the required mode of operation of the safety instrumented function, which is the frequency with which a safety instrumented system will be used. For a safety function operating in a low demand mode of operation, the PFD ranges from ≥10-2 to ≥10-1 for SIL1 to ≥10-5 to ≥10-4 for SIL4.

The overall PFD is calculated by combining the PFDs of all the individual components in the loop. For example, a transmitter designed for safety will typically offer a lower PFD than a standard transmitter, bringing down the overall PFD of the system and potentially raising the SIL.

Other factors that determine whether an individual instrument is suitable for a particular SIL are the safe failure fraction (SFF) and the hardware fault tolerance (HFT).

The SFF is a function of the number of safe failures, the number of dangerous undetected failures and the number of otherwise dangerous failures that can be rendered safe by being detected, for example, by installing self-diagnostic capabilities.

The HFT indicates the number of faults that need to crop up within a device before a safety failure occurs. For instance, the failure of a standard transmitter might result in the output from a transmitter freezing on its last setting, but a transmitter designed for safety might revert to a prearranged fault setting, which could in turn trigger an alarm. Built-in redundancy can also raise the HFT from 0 to 1.

The integrity level provided by a given combination of SFF and HFT varies depending on whether the overall safety system is a well-proven Type A or less well-understood Type B, according to the IEC 61508 standard. The other key factor to be considered is the systematic capability. This relates to factors such as the methodology, techniques, measures and procedures used in the design and engineering of the element itself and the integration of elements to form the safety system.

The other thing to look out for is the quality of documentation available from the equipment supplier. Are their instruments certified by independent testing bodies? Have they got a sufficiently strong track record for the user to be confident that the equipment is “proven in use”?

Savings soon add up

Independent tests and extra paperwork may not sound like a cheap option, but there are several ways in which opting for higher integrity equipment can save money in the long term.

The first is that the safety systems do not need testing as often to check that they are still working properly. The required proof test interval can be extended significantly if equipment can demonstrate a higher HTF and a lower frequency of dangerous undetected failures. This will deliver lower operating costs for any user, but the difference is likely to be especially significant in industries such as offshore or nuclear, where gaining access to the systems can be difficult and expensive. It might, for example, mean the difference between sending inspectors out to an oilrig by helicopter every three months or once a year.

The second area where savings can be made is in insurance. In fact, some insurers now insist on complying with particular safety integrity levels before they will agree to provide cover.

However, it is the prevention of accidents that still offers the biggest potential financial savings, not just in terms of financial penalties, but also the impact that an accident or incident can have on a company’s share price and reputation. Add to this the imperative to protect personnel and be a good neighbour to the surrounding community and the case for excellence in safety systems is compelling – whatever the state of the economy.

Why it pays to pay more for safety (Part 1)

February 10, 2014

Quite apart from any moral considerations, skimping on safety can be an expensive mistake. The right safety instrumentation can deliver long-term security and a lower life-time cost.

If the Buncefield and Deepwater Horizon disasters prove anything, it’s that safety can never be taken for granted. Aside from the devastation they caused to their surrounding environments, both disasters also resulted in multi-million dollar damages for the operators involved.

While most industrial safety breaches have less spectacular and expensive consequences, they are sadly all too common. The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted 973 offences in 2013 and achieved 849 convictions. The firms in question collectively received fines of £12.9 million, equating to an average fine of £15,153.

When it comes to safety, fines are just one aspect of the costs of getting it wrong. Material damage, personal injury claims and the damage to a company’s reputation and subsequent sales can all send the price of poor safety sky high.

With companies facing considerable pressure to cut costs in every possible area, even areas as critical as safety find themselves subject to tightening budgets. Moreover, as the standards currently accepted as good practice are not actually legal requirements, there is an obvious temptation to skimp on safety systems. As can be seen from the potential consequences of failure mentioned above though, this is unlikely to prove a cost-effective strategy in the long run.

Higher standards

When it comes to specialised instrumentation and control equipment for safety applications, it’s true to say that you get what you pay for.

Compared to a normal process control loop that is operating most of the time, a safety system will typically kick in only when there is a problem. This sporadic operation means it’s quite possible for a transmitter or other component within the safety loop to malfunction without being detected. However, if it fails when needed then the consequences can be dire.

Making sure a safety system doesn’t fail demands good quality equipment that has been extensively tested and analysed. It may also mean building in a level of redundancy and a self-diagnostic capability far outstripping that required for non-critical systems. All this pushes up the price.

The second point is that safety is a niche application. A refinery might easily have 900 control loops distributed around the site but fewer than 100 safety loops. This more specialised market for safety equipment simply doesn’t benefit from the same economies of scale as the mass-market in standard controls.

Lifetime savings

Rather than looking for the cheapest option, it’s important to look for instruments and systems offering the optimum combination of security and cost-effectiveness over their lifetime. It’s a complex area, and users hoping to find the best solution can benefit from getting to grips with some of the terminology surrounding safety.

In our next blog, we’ll explain the parameters that define the overall effectiveness of a safety loop and will show why opting for higher integrity equipment can save money in the long term. Look out for it this time next week. If you can’t wait that long, then please email moreinstrumentation@gb.abb.com for the full article, ref. ‘The price of safety’.

Is your thermowell up to standard?

November 8, 2013

By Steve Gorvett, Temperature Product Specialist, ABB Instrumentation

Did you know that recent amends to manufacturing standards may mean that some of your thermowells aren’t up to scratch?
Thermowells are often so fundamental to plant safety that any design flaws can have disastrous effects. By way of example, in 1995 a thermowell failure in the coolant loop at the Monju fast breeder reactor in Japan closed the plant for the next 15 years. It’s for this very reason that there are tight industry manufacturing standards that govern thermowell production.

Following some catastrophic failures (including the Monju disaster) the American Society of Mechanical Engineers decided to amend the ASME PTC 19.3-1974 standard to which these thermowells were designed to.

The latest revision of the ASME PTC19.3 standard makes use of significant new knowledge about the behaviour of thermowells, compared to the criteria laid out in 1974. The standard evaluates thermowell suitability with new and improved calculations for various thermowell designs and material properties. It also takes some detailed information about the process into account.

In particular, the standard looks at the incidence of vortex shedding. This is the phenomenon where vortices formed in the wake of the thermowell move from side to side; this is what causes vibrations in the thermowell. If this vortex shedding rate matches the natural frequency of the thermowell, resonance occurs, and dynamic bending stress on the thermowell increases.

The frequency ratio is the ratio between the vortex shedding rate and the installed natural frequency. In the old standard, the frequency ratio limit was set to 0.8. The new standard stipulates that in some cases, the limit should be set to 0.4. The new possibility of having a much lower frequency ratio limit of 0.4 means tighter design constraints in many cases. As the majority of existing assets will have been designed to the 1974 standard, the new 0.4 frequency ratio means a lot of thermowells will NOT pass the new standard.

Re-evaluation and re-certification services are available. Operators will need to consider the implications when an existing thermowell fails the new calculation. If process conditions change, for example increased throughput for a part of plant, this should also be evaluated.
At a brownfield modification we recently examined for new process conditions, 29 existing thermowells were evaluated under existing and new conditions. Only six passed the new standard under existing conditions!

Bearing in mind what happened at the Monju fast breeder reactor in Japan, which did conform to the 1974 standard, isn’t it about time you reviewed your thermowell installations?

New accreditation for UK ABB Measurement Products factory provides added reassurance for oil and gas customers

October 18, 2013
ABB Measurement Products underlines safety credentials with new oil and gas accreditation

ABB Measurement Products underlines safety credentials with new oil and gas accreditation

We are thrilled to announce that our Measurement Products business has achieved ISO 29001 accreditation for its Workington factory, underlining its position as a world leader in the supply of Flow, Temperature and Level equipment to the Oil and Gas industry, and its commitment to safety and the environment.

Introduced in 2010, ISO 29001 provides a single quality document for the approval of the quality systems of organisations providing design, development, production, installation or service for use in petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industry applications.

Our focus on the oil and gas industry, together with our determination to strive for the highest standards in the design and manufacture of instrumentation, were key factors in the decision to achieve ISO 29001 accreditation – becoming one of the first companies to do so. Already our Centre of Excellence for measurement in the oil and gas industry, the Workington site specialises in the design and manufacture of flow, temperature and level instrumentation for use in the oil and gas industry, as well as other industries.

Oil and gas is an extremely demanding market, with safety, accuracy and reliability at the top of its agenda for instrumentation. Workington’s unsurpassed capability not only enables ABB to meet all these needs, but demonstrates that our oil and gas customers can have absolute confidence in our products.

For more information, email moreinstrumentation@gb.abb.com or call 0870 600 6122 ref. ‘oil and gas instruments’.

ABB level transmitter helps Robinson Bros keep the lid on explosive chemical

August 7, 2013

Thanks to our AT100 magnetostrictive level transmitter, Midlands-based manufacturer of speciality chemicals, Robinson Brothers, are now able to meet strict safety standards regarding the storage of highly reactive carbon disulphide (CS2).

CS2 is so reactive that it has to be stored under a layer of water to prevent it from igniting, and the level of the interface between the water and CS2 requires constant monitoring. Therefore it is essential that any associated measurement devices is safety-critical.

Level measurement was previously achieved using a very simple magnetic float-based device that provided a local indication of the level but didn’t link in to any wider control system. However, an ongoing programme of improvements at the plant called for updated state-of-the-art innovative solution fully enabled for the latest communications.

This [float] principle of measurement had given many years of faultless service in what is a demanding application. In simple terms, magnetostrictive systems can be thought of as a “float on a stick”. The “stick” is actually a sensing tube wrapped around a wire that receives regular electrical pulses. Each current pulse interacts with the magnetic field created by the magnetic float to produce a torsional stress wave in the wire. This stress wave travels at a fixed speed along the wire to a patented piezo-magnetic sensing element in the transmitter assembly. The transmitter measures how long it takes for the wave to reach the sensor, which indicates how far away the float sits as it moves up and down the sensing tube in step with the liquid interface.

As CS2 is so volatile and prone to ignition, it’s one of the few chemicals that requires instrumentation to be certified to the most extreme, ATEX Exd IIC T6, protection standard. It can also be used in safety instrumented systems to meet the tough SIL1 performance ratings.

Thanks to official ABB WirelessHart distributor, instrumentation specialist ICA Services’ partnership with ourselves, ICA was able to recommend our AT100 magnetostrictive level transmitter, which meets both these criteria, providing process signals which output to both our local and site monitoring systems and meeting our own internal requirement of SIL1-capable instrumentation. As such, Robinson Brothers has purchased four additional AT100 transmitters for use on its other CS2 process systems.

AT100 transmitters provide continuous level indication, and transmission of an analog and/or digital signal for monitoring or control. The unique design boosts the resolution of the device to more than 100 times greater than a conventional reed switch-type device.

For more information, email moreinstrumentation@gb.abb.com ref. ‘magnetostrictive level’ or visit www.abb.co.uk/measurement. Alternatively, for more about ICA Services and Robinsons Brothers, please visit www.icaservices.co.uk or www.robinsonbrothers.co.uk.

ABB confirms its position as number one supplier promoting functional safety in oil and gas industry

May 15, 2013

With the final Safety Execution Centres (SECs) in our global network set to be TÜV-certified within the next 18 months, we are proud to confirm our position as the number one supplier promoting functional safety in the oil and gas industry. To date, some eleven SECs out of our 20-strong global network are already certified.

Working closely with colleagues within the company’s Product and Consulting businesses, the SECs play a key role in helping ABB deliver total safety-assurance for customers operating high-risk process installations. The Centres design and engineer Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) to support effective functional safety throughout the entire lifecycle of process and functional safety solutions.

Recent incidents are focusing companies’ attention towards adoption and compliance to safety related industry good practice standards with increased project spend to achieve the correct level of functional safety to these standards to ensure sustainable operations. ABB’s experience and tried and tested systems and procedures help to ensure that companies achieve complete functional safety with a high level of pragmatism without paying more than they need.

Many operators and contractors within the oil and gas industry do not have access to specialist functional safety resources in-house. ABB’s support can ensure that safety is designed into projects properly from the start, avoiding the potentially catastrophic consequences of underspecifying safety systems, as well as the added costs of overspending on unnecessary equipment.

All the Centres work to deliver SIS that comply with the latest industry standards (IEC 61511 and IEC 61508, edition 2). The SECs in India, Argentina, Denmark, Germany, two in Italy, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil and two in China are already certified by TÜV as the independent accreditation body in line with the standards, while Canada, Colombia, US, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Slovakia are currently in the process of achieving certification.

The SECs design, engineer, integrate and configure SIS using ABB third-party certified elements and subsystems from the various Product Groups, to IEC 61511/IEC 61508. They offer the full range of systems, up to and including SIL 3 for the most hazardous duties.

They also provide consultancy on functional and process safety, working with the Consulting Group, Control Technologies and Consult IT businesses within ABB. Competency is a key issue within functional safety, and the SECs complete their all-round support for clients by working with the ABB University to provide training.

Key engineering personnel at all 20 SECs have achieved either TÜV Rheinland Functional Safety Engineer or Exida Certified Safety Engineer and ABB has access to a number of “Expert” status consultants under the same competency schemes.

For more information about ABB’s range of functional safety services, email oilandgas@gb.abb.com or call 01480 475321 ref. ‘Functional Safety’.