Posts Tagged ‘control’

ABB appoints new channel partner to expand offering into the Irish process market

January 14, 2015

We are delighted to announce that ABB UK Measurement and Analytics is partnering with Hanley Measurement and Control to offer our expanding portfolio of products into the Irish process market.

Underlining our commitment to increasing our presence in the Irish process market, the partnership will see the company act as the official sales agent for our growing range of measurement and control products for improving process performance and efficiency for applications in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and beverage and other related industries.

Utilising a well-known and respected partner such as Hanley will allow our customers in Ireland to get full access to support and service going forward into 2015 and beyond.

Products available through Hanley will include ABB’s full range of process flowmeters, devices and systems for the measurement of temperature and pressure, plus liquid, gas and air emissions, as well as valve actuators, positioners, recorders and controllers.

The appointment of Hanley Measurement and Controls further expands our network of Instrumentation Alliance Partners in the UK and Ireland, which includes specialist suppliers of instrumentation products, services and expertise serving the water, power, process and oil and gas markets.

For more information about ABB’s Instrumentation Alliance Partners, email or call 0870 600 6122.


Could you save $1,000,000 a day?

June 23, 2014

Few companies can afford to have plant outages that could lead to losses of a million dollars a day, yet that is what is at risk if you fail to monitor your boiler chemistry correctly.

It all comes down to contaminants. A 500 megawatt boiler boils off around 1,500 tons of water an hour, around one million tons per month. Boiler feed water contains contaminants that are very hard to eliminate. And when this water boils off, these contaminants are left behind, causing a host of potential problems for your boiler.

Poor efficiency, corrosion, leaks, cracks and ultimately failed components can all result.

Close monitoring and control can determine the best time for boiler blowdown operations to bleed off a measure of the contaminated water. This helps to prevent scale deposits from insulating the heat surfaces, which can decrease the rate of steam generation and cut operating efficiency.

Clearly, it pays to keep an eye on boiler chemistry. As well as the need to replace failed components, a shut down boiler does the rest of the plant no favours either, with critical processes reliant on steam unable to operate.

But it’s not just the water in the boiler that needs attention. Keeping a check on the steam distribution loop and other areas around a power plant gives a complete overview of conditions. With the data to back up a planned maintenance programme, you can keep outages to a minimum.

So, what are the key things to measure? Well, one of the important ones is dissolved oxygen, a major cause of corrosion in steam systems. Oxygen contamination of steam condensate can lead to inefficient or improper feed water aeration, air leaking into pump seals, receivers and flanges, leaking heat exchangers and air getting into systems that should be a vacuum. Localised pitting corrosion is another danger. This can be particularly hazardous, as it can cause critical equipment in the steam system to fail rapidly.

A cure for this is adding hydrazine, which removes oxygen and has several other benefits. Ensuring the right amount is added gives all the benefits without unnecessary expense. The level of sodium and silica are two other parameters that need close attention, as both these chemicals can have undesirable effects.

So, keeping an eye on your boiler’s chemistry is number one on any boiler operator’s to-do list, as making sure your boiler has the right chemical balance could help you keep your books balanced.

Over the coming weeks, we will explain more about the importance of boiler chemistry monitoring, including tips on where to monitor and how to ensure effective measurements of hydrazine, sodium and silica levels.

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 for the full article, ref. ‘The price of safety’.