Rachael McGovern 01/05/2018
Siemens Industry, Inc. is dedicated to providing you with answers and solutions to the challenges that you face on a day-to-day basis. With the Measuring Success blog, we believe 'to measure is to know,' and knowledge is the key to success.
To ensure that you have access to expert-insight into the current industry trends and challenges, we have changed our platform to make it more user-friendly. You can read the blog as a “guest,” or you can login using your social media accounts or create an account with your email. We recommend that you login or create an account so that you can follow our authors, keywords and Siemens’ blogs. Our goal is to foster conversation. This new platform makes commenting much easier than in the past! So bring on your comments and questions!
On the home page, you can select the blog you’re interested in (e.g. Process Automation), or you can read trending articles, search by authors and/or by all topics! There is also a search field in case you can’t find the article or subject you’re looking for.
The Measuring Success blog will be re-titled as “Process Automation.” To access the Process Automation articles from the home page, please click on “All topics” and scroll down. You will see the latest two articles from the Process Automation blog and will be able to click for more information. You can also add favorite keywords; for example: “Process Instrumentation” or “Process Analytics” so that these blogs appear when you first log in.
Intelligent Process Automation is crucial for the competitiveness in the process industry. On the Process Automation Blog, we share our application and industry expertise in an effort to give you the tools to stay competitive.
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We recommend using Google Chrome to access the new blog as the format makes it easier to read. Please note that over the next few weeks we will be migrating our existing content and adding new material.
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Steve Morales 09/06/2016
In today’s digital era, it’s becoming necessary to understand digitalization and what implications it has for the manufacturing industry, your operation and your day-to-day job. Siemens’ response to digitalization is referred to as the “Digital Enterprise.” The Digital Enterprise is a solutions portfolio that identifies manufacturing and processing industries’ methods to enable increased productivity, flexibility, shorter time to the marketplace and to prepare for what’s coming next.
Where can I learn more about Digital Enterprise?
Siemens offers a global network of experts that have extensive technical and industry knowledge, and their shared experience will be available this summer at the Automation Summit.
The Automation Summit, which is running June 27-30, 2016, at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas, NV, is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the Digital Enterprise in the process industries including integrated engineering and integrated operation.
What is integrated engineering and operation?
Integrated engineering refers to information and processes that are available in one data model that have the interface/interplay of different engineering and automation systems. Integrated operations are the execution of operation and maintenance tasks without media breaks due to a seamless transition and the consistent data flow between engineering and plant operations. With integrated engineering and operations, you can optimize efficiency and improve reliability.
Throughout the Automation Summit, you will have the opportunity to meet with the experts, ask questions and network with other industry professionals. There will also be more than 50 case studies presented so that you can learn from their peers’ best practices in an effort to improve their operations. These case studies will be able to give you a different perspective to the integrated automation portfolio throughout the entire plant lifecycle.
Click here to learn more about the event.
Doug Ortiz 03/03/2016
Diminishing resources, rising prices and increased sensitivity to environmental issues makes the efficient use of energy more important today than ever before, especially in areas with high consumption.
Using intelligent power management with energy-efficient components can easily optimize energy management in process plants and significantly reduce operating costs. Be sure to take advantage of systematic, scalable solutions; from basic power monitoring to complete, integrated energy management with transparent visualization of consumption from the process control system.
Energy management is not a single product; it is a strategy. Implementing the energy management strategy can be broken down into a three-step process:
In order to provide transparency for energy data, intelligent devices must be capable of capturing energy information. Installing devices that have this capability creates easy tracking and measuring of energy potentials, which can be understood and incorporated into the energy management strategy.
Once you are able to identify the devices in the plant that are energy management capable, your process control system coupled with the plant’s energy management software (which can be incorporated as an add-on or 3rd party software package) can provide transparency of energy usage to operations and plant managers. This information can include the load profiles, trend usage and provide detailed reporting.
Well-designed and optimized energy usage helps to reliably avoid the cost of consumption peaks. Using an energy management software package makes it possible to monitor power limits with integrated load management. The plant can selectively switch off consumers to smooth large peaks and comply with the contractual limits made with energy suppliers. Loads can be dropped in unstable supply networks, to continue operation of the other plant critical components with the remaining supply.
Intelligent energy devices coupled with energy management software makes it possible to reduce energy peaks and avoid exceeding set power limits. The operators can be made aware in real-time via Warning/Alarm messages if excess power usage is expected. Additionally, the process control system should be able to program the load management through start/stop of electrical loads, as well as assign priorities of the loads.
Incorporating these three steps into your energy management strategy will help you to decrease energy costs and environmental issues, and it will provide the ability to measure and understand your plant’s energy usage patterns.
For information about how Siemens can help you easily measure your plant’s energy usage, click here.
To learn more about process control systems, please click here.
Herman Coello 03/09/2015
It is pretty amazing the many types of goodies that you can create with flour. These creations require various types of flour and some of these flours, because of their composition, are tougher than others to accurately measure their levels in a silo.
To the flour mill producer, the characteristics of each type of flour allows for the right recipe blend. In the milling process, production goes hand-in-hand with inventory. It happens that the various characteristics that flour exhibits from crop-to-crop, season-to-season or environment-to-environment can create some challenges in terms of level measurement. Thus, to accurately monitor the flour level in a silo, it requires us to take a closer look.
So what causes variances in flour, and what should you watch for when deciding if a technology will perform as desired to meet your level measurement needs?
Claims are often made that one technology or instrument can be suitable to all your flour level application needs; however, this is not entirely accurate. In general, non-contacting level technologies are more favorable than other technologies, but sometimes the type of flour may call for a contacting one whereas in other applications it may not be applicable.
Remember, not all flours are created equal. The season, harvest, mesh, bleaching and maturing agents play a role in the flour’s make-up. Because flour composition varies greatly, how the flour settles or flows out of the silo can differ from one type to another. Also, the filling method, which is typically pneumatic, creates lots of dust and the aeration tends to lower the bulk density on some flours more than others. The level of humidity of the product or the environment can also be good or bad. Good because humidity increases the bulk density of the product, and bad because it increases the potential for buildup on the measuring device.
So to minimize fussing with accurate level measurements, watch for some of the tell-tale signs that can be problematic. This will help you make better educated choices as to what types of instruments would be more in line with the process conditions that you are dealing with.
What should you consider when picking your level device?
Chances are that you are handling more than one type of flour, and the more that you know about the flour properties that you are dealing with, the better solution you can find for your applications.
To help identify whether or not you need more than one type of technology, take a look at the list below to see if any of these conditions exist.
- Does the flour pack easily into shapes?
- Does it exhibit a high angle of repose?
- Does the material bridge or rat hole?
- Does it build up on the silo walls?
- Is the space very dusty when filling?
- Does the inside of hatch show excessive buildup?
- Past level experiences, does it behave differently according to the season?
Choosing your level technology? Here are some tips that might help in the process!
In a nutshell, dusty environments these days are easily handled with high frequency non-contact radar transmitters, i.e. 78 GHz. An easy way to remember this is:
- If the flour tends to build up too much, contacting technologies will require more maintenance.
- If the bulk density of the flour drops too much due to aeration, guided wave radar can be a suitable alternative. This, of course, is valid as long as the pull forces exerted by instrument cables on the roof and material contacting the instrument are not a concern.
- Anything operating off of laser or acoustic energy can be challenged under very dusty conditions, which makes these technologies less favorable.
It is wonderful that there are many kinds of flours to create the myriad of recipes we all enjoy directly and indirectly. As you know, these flours flow, disperse, compact and/or stick to surfaces differently. Trying to measure the level in a silo with one technology can be a daunting task. To help you solve your problem, understanding the flour behavior and using suitable process instrumentation can lead not only to better automation and control, but also to better recipes.
What level measurement challenges keep you awake at night?
Ford Cheeseman 11/08/2015
What is the most important factor you consider when selecting an outside solutions or engineering provider?
Do you look for companies that are geared only to the products you have in-house, or do you look at companies that can offer guidance on an array of products? How about lead time? Are you looking for an immediate solution, or can your system set-up support a lengthy downtime depending on the solutions provider? What about the specifics of the services? Are you interested in a solutions provider that customizes their services to whatever you need, or one that has packages that you can choose from?
Regardless of the solution you seek, all factors mentioned above will play a role in your experience with outside engineered solutions providers. You must have complete confidence that the engineering team working on your project will meet all of your process control needs.
How can you ensure the most competent engineers in the field will be working with you?
If your company is looking for a solutions provider, it is best to begin by considering providers that specialize in the products needed for your project. The next step involves identifying the service and support requirements for your project, and eliminating companies that aren’t up to your standards. Finally, you want to make certain that your solutions experts are actually experts – ensure that their engineers have extensive experience with similar applications and can supply the high quality products you desire.
Investing the time and research necessary to identify a high-quality solutions provider is costly and time consuming work. So, what’s the best way to save time and money while still finding the most qualified provider?
If your project includes process instrumentation products, I recommend reaching out to the company that you initially purchased the instrumentation from. These companies may have a department for their products or would be able to recommend a third-party that would be able to advise you.
Recently, Siemens announced a new department that provides custom engineered solutions for process instrumentation. With a wealth of expertise along with an expansive portfolio of products and services, our handpicked engineers are able to design effective and integrated solutions for your process control challenges, without having to reach out to third-party providers!
Siemens engineering solutions team offers experience and insight into the following industries:
- Oil and Gas
- Food and Beverage
- MAC (mining, aggregate and cement)
- Water technology
- Power Generation
What challenges do you experience when looking for outside solutions assistance?
For more information, please contact Dave Thomas.
Tim Matthews 16/07/2015
Quick quiz: How much water is needed to drill and frack a horizontal well?
a) 25,000 gallons
b) 250,000 gallons
c) 2,500,000 gallons
It may seem crazy but each new well requires over 2.5 million gallons of water for completion. Not only that, besides the water needed for drilling and fracking, industry experts have found that for every one barrel of oil produced, over seven and a half barrels of water are also produced. For the production of one million cubic feet of natural gas, over 260 barrels of water are produced. With this much production, water plays a key role in keeping the well pad running and maintaining an optimized system.
Produced water can have a combination of materials in it; some from the fracking process chemicals (although these typically account for less than 0.5 percent of the total makeup) and others that are found in the Earth’s crust including greases, salts, etc.
Produced water can be recycled. Some produced water is cleaned up and used in irrigation, dust control and de-icing of the roads but the majority of it is used to continue to increase well efficiency. Here, the produced water is re-injected into the well to maintain pressure and output of the well. This process must be carefully monitored to ensure optimum output and prevent shutdown of hydrocarbon stimulation.
What do you need to monitor your process effectively?
With this much water being produced, there is a high demand for water recycling systems and flow measurements. To ensure that your system runs smoothly, some of the key instruments that you need in your process are magnetic flow meters, level devices and valve positioners. These devices are able to perfectly into any solution needed for water transfer, frack transfer, impaired water transfer and filtration.
Skid manufacturers have developed mobile solutions to measure water at the well site. For this application we recommend magnetic flow meters, particularly the SITRANS Mag 5100W, to monitor the flow rate of clean water where power is available. Battery-powered mag meters, like the Siemens SITRANS Mag 8000, are also beneficial and ideal for frack water impoundments/tanks that provide a solar powered flow measurement. For handling chemical compatibility for produced water and salt water flows, mag meters with a variety of liners similar to the SITRANS Mag 3100 are what you would need to use.
While magnetic flow meters have a huge presence in the oil and gas industry, level instrumentation is just as important. Level instrumentation, particularly the SITRANS LR250, is ideal for frack tank measurements as it provides accuracy within +/- 3mm, while the SITRANS LG250 is able to provide interface detection and dual outputs, creating an easy solution for monitoring the amount of crude separated from water. These level devices provide a greater degree of control and therefore a greater sense of reliability and efficiency to the user.
With oil prices slowly starting to climb everyone is looking for new ways to create better efficiency and reliability on their wells. What better place to focus on then the biggest product of the US petroleum industry, water.
How much have you focused on water in the oil and gas industry?
Water Account Manager 18/06/2015
If you work in or around the wastewater industry you have most likely heard of, or been involved in some sort of investigation on solids waste digesters. Their use in the industry has surpassed just being a trend and is getting closer to becoming an ubiquitous facet of most medium-sized to large-sized facilities.
I recently attended a 2-day conference on wastewater with my sole objective being to understand the general attitude toward the operation of digesters, what facilities are doing to optimize the production of biogas in digesters and what types of results can be expected in the quest to achieve energy independence through on site power generation. Well, starting with the basics and going into the specifics, here’s a rundown of what I’ve learned.
What is biogas?
Biogas is a gas that is formed by anaerobic microorganisms. These microbes feed off carbohydrates and fats, producing methane and carbon dioxides as metabolic waste products. This gas can be harnessed as a source of combustible fuel.
Biogas is considered to be a renewable fuel and we continue to see an increased emphasis and support on the use of renewable fuels from government agencies. Since wastewater facilities have the main ingredients to create this resource, namely digestible sludge, many of our organizations are investigating and implementing energy production strategies fueled by the biogas generated in the digesters.
What are some of the benefits of anaerobic digestion and biogas?
Key benefits of anaerobic digestion and biogas include the:
- Production of renewable power through combined heat and power cogeneration
- Disposal of problematic wastes
- Diversion of waste from landfill and an overall reduction of solid waste coming out of the plant.
- Production of a low-carbon fertilizer
- Avoidance of landfill gas escape and reduction in carbon emissions.
To break down the formula, we send our solid waste to an anaerobic digester where microorganisms consume a percentage of them and then produce a methane-rich gas. That methane is then used to run a power generation unit to produce power to run our plants. Sounds simple, right?
How do we make sure it works as planned?
One of the first things you need to do is optimize the amount of methane that you are producing in your digester. The relative percentages of methane and carbon dioxide in the biogas are influenced by a number of factors including:
- The ratio of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the feedstock
- The dilution factor in the digester (carbon dioxide can be absorbed by water)
It has become a common practice to find local sources of high-strength waste (HSW) and add them into your digester to increase the amount of biogas produced. This is also referred to as co-digestion. There are multiple choices for co-digestion feedstock including restaurant and cafeteria food wastes, food processing wastes or byproducts; fats, oils and grease (FOG) from restaurant grease traps; energy crops; crop residues; and others.
The addition of HSW into a digester can produce 50% - 100% increases in biogas production. The actual increase will vary depending on the current state of your digester feed stream and the types of feedstock added.
One concern that I’ve heard many times is the local availability of these HSW, or at least the premium FOGs we are all looking for, within an easy to obtain distance from the plant. With the popularity of co-digestion increasing, it is prudent to check with your surrounding producers or haulers of FOG to make sure their waste stream isn’t already spoken for.
Another key to success is to not give up on energy reduction and conservation just because you are now producing your own power. One of the most helpful actions in the quest for energy independence is to reduce the amount of energy you consume to run your facility. This has become a pretty common emphasis for most of us, but we can also find a source of HSW in our efforts to reduce energy usage. However, implementing and enforcing grease traps and interceptor regulations and requirements will ultimately improve efficiencies at your facility. Keeping these FOGs out of your influent stream eases the biological load coming into the headworks of the plant. Efforts can then be put into getting the FOGs that are collected delivered straight to your facility where they can be added directly to your digester. So an emphasis on grease disposal enforcement can reduce the influent load, which will reduce the power consumption of the plant, and also supply you with a nice source of premium fats, oils, and greases to load into your digester.
Additionally, if you have producers of biological waste in the vicinity of your plant, it might be beneficial to directly pipe their HSW straight to your digester, again eliminating it from your influent stream and delivering it in a more manageable way than via the sewer. The added upfront cost should pay off down the road for both parties involved.
Finally, utilizing the most efficient means to generate the amount of power you need with the methane produced will go a long way in determining the success of your installation. Sizing the correct power generation unit with the methane available and load needed is critical. Whether you use engines or turbines, producing power also generates heat, and capturing that heat and efficiently using it in the digester process and throughout your facility is all part of piecing together an energy independent operation.
I’ve learned of facilities that could produce all the power they need if they could just produce enough biogas and of the facilities that are producing so much biogas that they are converting it into a type of compressed natural gas to fuel their automotive fleet at the plant. Most importantly, I’ve learned of facilities that claim to be net energy neutral today.
As digesters and the use of their byproducts become more prominent in our industry, we are increasingly seeing them as a source for renewable energy and as a revenue stream. I believe it will be a way of life for the wastewater industry for a long time. We are still constantly learning about ways to get the most out of our digesters and their systems but we seem to be at a place now where we shouldn’t be viewing biological influent as a waste, but more as a resource.
Ryan Shea 07/05/2015
What is the most important factor to you when purchasing new process instruments?
Is it the product cost, fancy features, fast delivery or warranty period? Or, is it the extensive cost of process downtime, proper regulatory reporting, or safety and reliability features of the equipment?
Whatever your motivation is, there is no doubt that fast, accurate and reliable device configuration is critical to your process. So, what options do you have to ensure accurate configuration while managing any hurdles that may arise?
While training sessions are extremely effective and can teach you to become an expert, is this an option for you? Do you travel frequently or are you in a position that has you running around constantly? If something does happen to your instrumentation, do you have a plan in place?
In a world where “time is money” and keeping costs down to a minimum is the ultimate goal in every business, what options are available to you as a maintenance solution?
If you haven’t taken training sessions in the past, you would need to call someone fast and hope to get the next available field service opening. Planning ahead would avoid costly service calls and protect you from lost downtime.
Our factory start-up service provides you with the peace of mind that your instrumentation investment is maximized. And, using a factory trained technician to commission your devices keeps your team where they are needed most: operating your process.
With Siemens factory start-up service, you are able to benefit from:
- Factory trained technicians who are familiar with the devices and their operation
- Fast start-up and commissioning reducing process downtime, penalties and lost revenue
- Verification of properly applied technologies and identification of any potential issues
- Proper device configuration for maximum accuracy, reliability and safety
- Reporting documentation for legal, regulatory and safety requirements
- Keeping your operations and maintenance crews working on daily responsibilities
- On-site training through observation by your team
- A 12-month extended warranty
Start-up services by Siemens factory trained technicians will provide you with the maximum value for your instrumentation investments. By choosing factory start-up, not only are your instruments properly configured, but you keep your total cost of doing business to a minimum.
Visit our services webpage for more information on our start-up and commissioning services, as well as our full service and training offering at: usa.siemens.com/pisupport
Lonnie Barker 19/02/2015
Since late-2014, the price of crude oil has consistently been dropping lower and lower. Already, we’ve already seen a decrease in drilling, fracking and production cuts, not to mention thousands of layoffs. The predictions of when prices will be back into the $70 BBL mark have ranged from July 2015 to the second quarter of 2016. While this may seem like a cruel (short-term) eternity, this could actually be a blessing in disguise for the industry.
With dropping crude prices, it’s the ideal time to look at what technologies are used in well completion, production and pipeline transport. The industry, as a whole, needs to take a deep breath and look at how they can cut costs, increase safety and still meet environmental regulations while at the same time increasing productivity at a lower breakeven point.
How can you significantly cut costs while still improving your system?
With new fracking systems, although we are seeing smaller footprints when fracking a well, we’re still lacking proper management for the fracking components like water, proppant and chemicals.
Correct management of the proper instrumentation can dramatically cut transport handling cost and demurrage fees. I have personally seen sites where the trucks have waited between 10 and 20 hours to deliver water and/or proppant. Cutting these fees alone would provide immediate payback for the proper instrumentation, in addition to a reduction in fracking costs.
On many production sites, we are still seeing turbine meters used for flow measurement and pneumatic float to control the interface level and dump cycles of separators. These instruments can easily be upgraded to technologies that require less maintenance and offer increased accuracies over the existing systems in place. There are other benefits too like the ability to eliminate the bleed from the pneumatic devices reducing the overall emissions of greenhouse gasses.
In addition, as output and communication systems continue to improve, companies are now able to monitor remote sites from one central location, which allows for better utilization of resources with less downtime.
The list of where an upgrade in instrumentation is a benefit for the future of the industry is too large for a blog; however, you’re in luck! Siemens is holding their 3rd Annual Siemens Oil and Gas Innovation at the Minute Made Stadium in Houston, TX, on April 22- 23, 2015, and this will be a hot topic! We invite all who are in the Oil and Gas industry to join us, and not only network with others in the industry but to see what Siemens is doing to help decrease costs, become more efficient and safe, protect the environment and work toward shrinking the breakeven point.
Let’s work together and have it where we can all be profitable - whether crude is at $100BBL or at $30 BBL.
Matthew Logeman 13/02/2015
Over the past 50 years, there have been more than 900 instances of grain engulfment with 62% of those cases resulting in death. In 2010, over 26 fatalities, the highest number of U.S. deaths occurred due to grain engulfment. Companies need to be aware of how to reduce the chances of their employees becoming the next statistic.
Grain engulfment can occur when an employee has to climb to the top of a storage bin to manually measure the level of product and is trapped in flowing grain. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed strict guidelines for agricultural and grain handling industries to abide by but by being proactive you can decrease the likelihood of an accident from happening. With the installation of level instrumentation, you greatly reduce trips to the top of storage bins and the opportunity for an accident to present itself.
As companies weigh increased production against limited resources, worker efficiency continues to be a key topic of discussion. The less time workers spend making trips to the storage bins, the more time available to delegate for other important jobs at your facility. With level instrumentation, increased operational efficiency can save you time and improve your bottom line.
What instrumentation is right for my storage bin?
If you’re attending the GEAPS Exchange in St. Louis, Missouri Feb. 21-24, 2015, stop by our booth #1601. I’ll be there with colleagues from Siemens’ Automation and Motion Control business units to speak with you about your process and help you identify new solutions that may assist your system’s setup.