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Measuring Success

  • Rachael McGovern 23/03/2017

    Looking to update your process system but unsure of how it will work?

    Not to worry! Siemens Process Automation has developed a mobile showcase that displays how process instrumentation and analytical products will look in your process setup. With over 50 feet of space, we’re able to show you how instrumentation looks in its natural habitat.

    Unsure of how a flow meter or a level transmitter would be positioned in an oil and gas application? We’ve got you covered!

    With our Showcase, we’re able to show you exactly how instrumentation, analytical products, communication and automation will appear in a plant. We believe that ‘to measure is to know,’ and we’re trying to help one customer at a time with our unique, interactive experience.   

    As we’ve recently made some changes to our interior and exterior walls, we’re going to be showcasing our latest improvements next month on our Oil and Gas Summit and Technology Tour.

    Interested to learn more? 
    Register today and experience the Mobile Showcase for yourself! In addition, you will have the opportunity to speak with industry experts on industry trends and where the market is moving next. 

    Don’t miss out on two great opportunities!

    Register Here - Wednesday, April 12, 2017
    11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. CST
    Geismar, Louisiana 

    Register Here - Wednesday, April 26, 2017
    12 p.m. – 8 p.m. CST
    Corpus Christi, TX

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  • Rachael McGovern 16/03/2017

    How important is belt scale calibration?

    After a belt scale has been installed and calibrated in an application, as with any other piece of equipment, you have to consider what type of periodic maintenance should be performed. Routine calibration is one of those considerations. There can be many reasons why recalibration should be performed.



    It can be as simple as:

    • Temperature or weather changes
    • Maintenance to the conveyor
    • Material buildup on the weighbridge
    • Settling of the conveyor structure
    • Anything that has the ability to change the effects of the material on the belt or rollers may affect the scale


    To understand the importance of proper belt scale calibration, consider what proper belt scale calibration should do. Proper belt scale calibration should:

    • Provide early identification of a scale error
    • Allow for an inspection of the scale and conveyor
    • Test the scale’s repeatability
    • Properly adjust the calibration of the scale as required


    Let’s look at each of these items individually.

    Early identification of a scale error
    Changes in a conveyor belt system can occur slowly over time. These changes can cause a small error in the scale. As the changes in the conveyor accumulate over time, so do the errors in the scale. In many industrial environments, belt scale calibration is required when quality control reports a problem. At that point, the scale has already developed enough error to cause product quality issues. Regular periodic maintenance and calibration of the equipment assures that it operates within acceptable tolerances.   

    Scale and conveyor inspection
    Conveyors are designed for continuous operation over long periods of time. For this reason, conveyors often receive little maintenance unless a problem develops that threatens to prevent the conveyor’s operation. When a belt scale is installed in a conveyor, it becomes an important part of the weighing system and should be inspected periodically for changes that may affect the scale’s accuracy. For example, an idler that is not aligned properly may have very little effect on the operation of the conveyor; however, if the idler is in the area of the scale, it could cause errors in the scale. When a periodic calibration is performed on a conveyor belt scale, an inspection of the scale and conveyor should be done to verify that changes that have occurred on the conveyor, will not affect the performance of the scale.

    Test of the scales repeatability
    When regular scale calibrations are performed, the scale should be tested for repeatability. The scale’s repeatability can easily be tested when doing a routine calibration by performing two consecutive calibrations in a row without making any changes to the scale or conveyor. If the error repeats, a correction can be made to the scale’s calibration. Consider a scale that has the desired accuracy of ± 0.50%. If a single calibration is performed and the scale is adjusted for that error but the error is not repeatable, the scale could be inaccurate.

    For example, let’s say a scale indicates an error of 1.25% after the first calibration. To ensure this  error is repeatable, a second calibration is performed without any changes to the conveyor or scale and this calibration shows an error of 0.10% (a difference of 1.15%); there is no adjustment that can be made to the scale to achieve the desired ±0.50%. In this case, a thorough inspection of the scale and conveyor should be done to determine the source of the error. However, if the second test shows an error of 0.95% (a difference of 0.30%), the scale’s calibration can be adjusted by 1.10%. This would leave the scale with an error of ±0.15%, well within the desired accuracy of ±0. 50%.

    Adjust the scales calibration
    Repeatability tests and an inspection of the scale and conveyor should indicate any issues that may be developing that will impact the scale’s accuracy. After preforming these checks, it may be found that the scale’s calibration is still within the acceptable limits. In these cases, no adjustment to the scale’s calibration is required. It is important to keep in mind that sometimes changes in the conveyor, e.g. conveyor maintenance or weather changes can cause errors in the belt scale. After it is determined that the scale is performing correctly, the calibration of the scale can be adjusted to keep the scale reading accurately.

    Importance of calibration
    To understand the importance of calibration, let’s think about the costs associated with an error in a belt scale since it can vary depending on the application.

    Direct loss of finished product
    If errors develop in a belt scale used for billing, it could result in the direct loss of material. For example, consider a scale that is loading a railcar with 95 tons of material; if the loading scale has a 1% error, the railcar could have as much as 95.95 tons. That may not seem significant, but on a 50 car train that could be as much as 47 tons. Now consider 50 cars per week over a year. That would be 47 tons over X 52 weeks = 2444 tons per year from an error of only 1%.

    Excessive equipment wear and increased energy costs
    A scale out of calibration can produce excessive wear on equipment in a couple of ways. If the scale is used to control the feed rate into a processing machine, the machines are usually designed to be fed at a specific rate. If material is fed into the machine below the designated rate, the machine will need to run longer to process the same amount of material. On the other hand, if the material is fed into the machine too fast, the material may not be properly processed so the material has to be transferred through the machine a second time. In either case, the machine will need to run longer to produce the same amount of product; thus, increasing wear on the machine, labor and energy costs.  

    Excessive use of raw material additives
    In applications where the scale is used to measure multiple components in a blending application, the material is blended in the correct proportions based on the output of the scale. In these applications, if an error develops, it can result in an increased use of raw materials. Additives typically cost more than the base product. If the scales are not reading correctly, more additive may be added than is needed, which in turn increases the production cost. In cases where the error has grown large enough, it may produce material that is out of specification, increasing the amount of scrap product.

    Conclusion
    Properly calibrated and maintained belt scales are capable of reducing production costs in a variety of ways. However, if the scales are not properly calibrated and maintained, the investment in the scale is only achieving a portion of the savings it was intended.

    What periodic maintenance program do you have for your belt scales?

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  • Jonas Norinder 09/03/2017

    How do you prevent storage tank overspills from happening?

    When it comes to working with hazardous materials, the possibility of a storage tank overspill is a daily battle for the chemical industry. Although overspills do not happen regularly, the threat still exists, the risks are high and the effects can be severely damaging to your plant in more ways than one.

    Not only will an overspill result in a loss of material and system downtime perspective, but it can also impact the safety of your personnel and the environment. That is why it is important to look at your plant’s system regularly to see how you can efficiently and effectively run your plant.

    Can you automate your manual instrumentation or implement instrumentation to increase safety measures for your workers? Do you have existing processes that have been in place for years that could be updated to work more efficiently?

    Just remember, tank overspills happen for a number of reasons, most of which can be prevented, or at least drastically reduced. It is important to focus in on the questions that can potentially prevent a disastrous situation from occurring.

    To learn more, join me Wednesday, March 22, 2017, from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. EST. We are going to be delving into this topic and will be discussing real-life, on-the-job issues that you face daily.

    Register today!

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  • Mike Gavan 02/03/2017

    Material Flow Characteristics in Silos and How it Helped Me to Stop Believing in Magic

    For much of my 30 years of non-contacting level measurement experience, I believed that there was an element of magic associated with it. When applications were successful it was good magic, and when they weren’t, it was black magic.

    As time went on, and my experience and knowledge levels rose, I realized that there was not quite as much “magic” as I initially thought but “REASONS” why things acted the way they did. Well, most of the time…but, not all of the time.

    My most baffling experience happened in an application involving solids materials. This application shouldn’t have presented any problems and was a routine fix. On this particular application, a site was experiencing erratic behavior from the level sensors - and they had the trends to prove it. Every time we would send a technician, and sometimes that technician would be me, we couldn’t figure it out. There was absolutely zero reason for this behavior to happen. The echo profiles looked fine and the erratic behavior captured on the trends were of such a frequency and randomness that the technician would have to actually sit by the unit (for who knows how long) waiting to capture the right moment. Miss a chance and poof! The clock starts all over again.

    Thanks to a colleague, and the constant bizarre behavior, we were able to resolve the issue with a little patience and resolution. It turns out that silo discharge geometry can play a major role in how the material flows during discharge. My colleague explained the difference between mass flow and funnel flow, but until I actually saw the difference I was not convinced. Then it happened: I saw the difference.

    This particular site had six silos that had a wedge-shaped lower discharge section, and the very bottom was slanted in a vertical orientation that allowed the material to dump into the lowest part of this section where there was the takeaway screw.

    They also had two newer silos that had the more traditional cone discharge section. Before I scaled the silos, I asked the operators if they noticed a difference in behavior between the six older silos and the two newer silos. They said they have never had an issue with the newer silos so, now I knew what to look for: the differences between the six older silos and the two newer silos.

    The difference was the bottom discharge section. The proof was literally staring me in the face when I looked inside the first old style silo. There was a very large section of the material surface that had fallen away, leaving sides that looked like an ice berg looks when a large piece falls off into the ocean. The hole must have been a good 10-15ft. in diameter and about 6-8ft. deep. Our level transmitter was mounted right above the lower portion of the screw and, obviously, right above this newly created hole.

    It is easy to imagine that the material would compact as it tried to discharge through this relatively small discharge area, and depending on the make-up of the material this “bridging” could stand up for some period of time before collapsing. Until this collapse occurred, the top level of the material would be a nice smooth surface. The kind we always want to see in these solids applications.

    So, what did I learn? Well, in conclusion, not all of the erratic behaviors and apparent unsuccessful applications are a result of the level instruments’ capabilities. A little more investigative research/observation and a little less magical thought is now in my approach to troubleshooting problem applications.

    So if you find yourself frustrated and starting to question the capabilities of your instrumentation, do yourself a favor and make sure you have looked at every potential influence that might be keeping your technology from being successful in the application.

    Add an inspection of the silo from top to bottom to your troubleshooting checklist. And, if you can correct your discharge issues, or even avoid installing a silo that won’t lend itself to steady flow conditions, you would be doing yourself a big favor. This would even allow you to start trusting the level readings your instrumentation generates.

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  • John Dronette 24/02/2017

    Are you up-to-date on the latest trends in the grain industry?

    Each year thousands of experts from around the world gather at the GEAPS Exchange to learn about the latest topics affecting the grain industry, exchange ideas and explore innovative products and services. With 250,000 square feet of exhibits and over 40 hours of educational programs, this year’s Exchange is sure to impress.

    The nearly 3,000 attendees come from all aspects of the grain industry including suppliers and those in the grain handling and processing industry. Operations professionals include those directly engaged in grain handling, feed milling and processing operations. The suppliers represent businesses or organizations that supply equipment to these industries. GEAPS also draws safety professionals and government officials from across the global to discuss challenges from a governing standpoint. 

    Some of key topics to be discussed at this year’s Exchange are:

    • Safety
    • Maximizing operational efficiency
    • Choosing storage options
    • Selection criteria for bulk material handling equipment


    Siemens has solutions for these concerns, be sure to stop by the Siemens booth, booth #601 and let us show you how we can help! My colleagues and I will be available throughout the conference and we would be happy to discuss ways to improve your efficiency, reduce your operating cost, and improve safety in your facility. 

    In the booth, we will be demonstrating the SITRANS LR560 level radar. The SITRANS LR560 is the world’s first W band level radar; it’s great for measuring in tall (up to 328 feet) dusty bins and silos. The SITRANS LR560 has also proven very effective in helping the grain handling industry leaders manage their inventory levels.

    In the booth, Siemens will also be displaying the award-winning MSI conveyor belt scale, which has won the Weighing Review Readers’ Choice Awards for “Best Industrial Scale” for the second year in a row. The MSI’s use of the patented triple-beam parallelogram load cell has proven itself successful around the world.  In the grain handling industry the Siemens MSI is often used to accurately measure inventory and reduce shipping costs.

    What do you hope to see at GEAPS Exchange 2017?

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  • Eric Heilveil 14/02/2017

    Fall in Love with Coriolis All Over Again

    As Siemens’ SITRANS FC430 Coriolis flow sensor has been selected by Control Engineering's readership as one of the best "Process Control - Flow Meter, Process Sensors,” what’s not to love? The Siemens SITRANS FC Coriolis flow sensor delivers mass flow, volume flow, density, fraction and temperature measurement of both liquids and gases with exceptionally high accuracy and low pressure drop. It is user-friendly and easy to set up for day-to-day use.

    The SITRANS FC430, series of high-performing Coriolis flow meters, has a footprint small enough to meet your process requirements! The FC430 can stand up to the most demanding process industry conditions and continues to operate in the noisiest of environments – from hazardous chemicals to fiscal metering, custody transfer to compressed natural gas fuel dispensing. Its compact design makes installation easy even in the tightest spaces.

    Watch the SITRANS FC430 in action!

    To learn more about the SITRANS FC430, please visit www.usa.siemens.com/coriolis.

     
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  • Justin DiNunzio 06/02/2017

    Siemens Develops an Innovative Temperature Measuring System to Improve the Service Life of Plant Equipment and Improve Product Quality

    Siemens has developed an innovative approach to temperature measurement using the speed and flexibility of fiber optic technology . The SITRANS TO500 , enables complex temperature measurements and can detect the precise position of critical temperatures, e.g. temperature measurement in tube and tube-bundle reactors at the speed of light.

    Designed to enhance the service life of plant equipment and improve product quality, the SITRANS TO500 is characterized by a large number of measuring points (up to 48 per measuring lance) and the small diameter of the sensor measuring lance. This allows plants to use a smaller protective tube in the reactor, which makes measurements more accurate. The precise determination of the temperature profile helps plants to detect critical operating points and initiate countermeasures accordingly.

    The SITRANS TO500 is the first temperature measurement device that uses fiber Bragg gratings (FBG) for its measurements. The SITRANS TO500 can evaluate 48 FBGs in each of its four channels (totaling 192 measuring points), exactly measuring the temperature changes in the smallest of spaces.

    The SITRANS TO500 is also the first device to enable FBG-based measurements in industrial environments (e.g. under harsh plant conditions and at high temperatures), making this instrument ideal for harsh and volatile conditions.

    For more information on the SITRANS TO500, please click here .
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  • Jack Roushey 01/12/2016

    What is the best way to reduce water usage? 

    Water is necessary to sustain life but in many parts of the world, water is becoming increasingly scarce and difficult to obtain. As governments around the world are enacting even stricter legislation than before, the question that faces the irrigation industry remains the same: “How do you manage water consumption and waste prevention while still remaining profitable?”

    While this challenge has been at the forefront of the irrigation industry’s discussion table for some time, it’s essential to look at alternative solutions that may apply to reducing the amount of water consumption over time. Measuring your water usage might be the first step to reducing overall water consumption.

    How do you know you are using only what you need, or if you are using too much because there is a leak in your system?  

    One solution that has been proven to assist in accurate flow measurement is electromagnetic flow meters . The beauty of electromagnetic flow meter sensors, particularly battery-powered, is that they can operate if the system loses power and they can be installed without any straight runs into the pipe.  

    Next week, the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) will be hosting the Irrigation Show 2016 December 5-9, 2016, in Las Vegas, NV. This year’s key points highlight:
    • The western hemisphere’s continuing drought
    • Irrigation management
    • Using sensor technology
    • Measuring landscape water use
    • Alternative water sources, and
    • Auditing soil moisture vs. catch cans

     
    Are you attending the Irrigation Show 2016 next week too? If so, stop by Siemens Industry’s booth, booth #1302! I’ll be there along with Scott Lee and Dave Haddon We would love to discuss this subject in more depth with you and answer any questions you may have that apply to your particular application. 

    Click here to learn more about Siemens irrigation solutions.

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  • Rachael McGovern 17/11/2016

    Giving Thanks

    At this time of year, our thoughts turn to celebration and gratitude.

    Happy Thanksgiving! We would like to take this time to thank you for your readership, confidence and loyalty. We are grateful for the opportunity to share with you our explorations as we delve into new subjects and identify ways to help optimize manufacturing every day.

    We extend to you and your family our best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Day.

    Please let me know if there are any changes that you would like to make as well as who the author should be. Thanks!

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  • Herman Coello 22/09/2016

    Discovering Sensible Solutions for Today’s Water Treatment Needs at WEFTEC

    With almost 30 workshops and over 100 technical sessions, the 2016 WEFTEC Expo is the place to be. Wait a minute, you are not going? Just visit the 2016 WEFTEC website and your mind will be changed. I mean, where else will you find experts talking about the latest trends and challenges, and companies sharing application stories where technologies and/or strategies worked – and where they didn’t WEFTEC allows you to take advantage of the opportunity to learn ways you can optimize your process while saving money at the same time.

    Trending topics these days are water conservation, water reuse and energy savings. Today, the task of finding innovative ways to manage water usage and improve sustainability goes beyond water and water treatment municipalities or water districts. The industrial sector such as refineries and the food and beverage industry for example are increasingly implementing technologies and practices for waste water treatment and water reuse in an effort to depend less on potable water supplies, and utilize this precious resource more wisely. Regardless of the sector you are in, environmental or industrial, it’s important to understand the resources and marketplace so that you can to be on your way to achieving your energy consumption goals.

    Process optimization can only go so far if energy saving strategies are not implemented. It is not news to any water treatment plant manager that the cost of operating pumps is often higher than the overall payroll. For many years, some power utilities have implemented fixed or variable energy tariffs to curtail energy usage during peak hours. In some states, the off peak hours can represent significant savings in terms of the cost per kilo-watt hours; I am talking about rates that can exceed 100%. This can translate into thousands of dollars in a matter of months, or even days depending on the size of your operation. If you want to achieve effective cost saving initiatives, you owe to yourself to come to WEFTEC and find out!

    Visit our booth and learn how the energy algorithms built into Siemens ultrasonic controllers can yield practically immediate savings. Savings will become evident by setting up strategies to run your pumps during critical times that are more in line with favorable tariff periods. You will wonder why you have not implemented such measures sooner. You will also be able to manage the high demands periods at lower cost without compromising your operation during water demand spikes.

    Below is just a sample of the ultrasonic level controller’s functionality that can help you optimize your process and minimize energy consumption.

    • Data logging
    • Volume totalization
    • Best accuracy in the industry
    • Digital communications options
    • Wet well Wall cling (fat ring) reduction
    • Advanced pump controls and modifiers
    • Energy saving algorithms “Economy Pumping”

    Come see us in booth #7039, and you’ll be glad you did! The return-in-your investment is closer than you think. We will be happy to help you be part of progressive solutions that are a must in today’s resource and energy environment.

    Have you considered an approach to balancing energy savings in your water treatment process using ultrasonic level controllers?

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