Last updateTue, 25 Jun 2019 4pm



Machine Learning: A Brave New World

Whether you embrace it as a way to more safely and accurately control processes, or fear it as a threat to human employment, machine learning (ML) is one of the hottest topics in computer programming today. It is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows software applications to become more accurate in predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed.

Data is the fuel that feeds machine learning. The basic premise is that computers learn by building algorithms that can receive input data and use statistical analysis to predict outcome.

Remote Monitoring of Cooling Towers and Air-Cooled Heat Exchangers

Advances in wireless technology have made remote monitoring of process equipment and systems much easier and less expensive than previously thought possible. As a result, many segments in process plants, power stations and production fields are monitored continuously, reducing shutdowns and the possibility for accidents while increasing efficiency and production. However, not all systems are monitored equally.

This article, based in part on a presentation by Mark Murphy of Fluor and Melissa Toten and Ed Sanders from Emerson at the 2016 Emerson Exchange*, relates how cooling towers and air-cooled heat exchangers can benefit from remote monitoring, which reduces life cycle cost and increases safety.

Low Cracking Pressure in Chemical Processing Condensate Lines

Steam condensate is the liquid by-product formed when steam goes from the vapor state to the liquid state; this process occurs in a wide range of applications, across virtually all industries. The chemical processing industry especially relies heavily on steam and steam-related systems. This necessitates vast, complex networks of boilers, evaporators, steam lines, and condensate return lines throughout many of the steps in the chemical production process.

By its nature, steam will condense back to liquid water at some point. This is unavoidable. In most of the modern industrial processes that use steam, the condensate is collected and recycled back into the system. This is a fiscally and environmentally beneficial practice, but its proper implementation is often overlooked, and poorly managed steam condensate in a system can lead to many serious issues.

Diagnostics for Commissioning and Startup

Many facilities have found value in performing diagnostics on valves before a turnaround or shutdown. This can help determine what valves will need work, what parts need to be ordered, and whether a valve can make it to the next turnaround. However, diagnostics are not as frequently used during commissioning and start up.

In a presentation during the 2016 Emerson Exchange, Gahan Mullen of BP and Sean Raymond of Emerson suggested, however, that diagnostics can actually make start-ups smoother and identify potential issues that may not be identified with traditional methods.

The Actuation Selection Process

A common misconception in our industry is that actuating a valve is as simple as putting the most cost-efficient actuator on top of your valve of choice, but the process is much more complicated than that. Selecting the correct actuator for the size and purpose of the valve is key, but it’s only the first step. If the actuator isn’t sized by a knowledgeable and technically trained expert, the results can be disastrous and/or expensive.

When sizing an automated valve, the actuator must operate properly when on demand, especially on Emergency Shutdown Valves (ESDVs). With constantly increasing safety demands, more actuator buyers are taking the extra step of requesting actuator sizing documentation.

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