Feb 28, 2023

Smart technology utilization in the refining & chemicals industry

Harri Cederlöf
Harri Cederlöf
Product lead, MRO and Service, Flow Control BL
Ulrich Gensicke
Ulrich Gensicke
Director, Valve Controls & Actuator Management, Flow Control BL

Over the years the field devices used in various process industries have changed from simple to more intelligent. Through the enhanced intelligent features, these smart field devices present process industries wide range of possibilities. Yet we find that the functionalities and benefits of smart technology are often not yet fully utilized. This is particularly the case when it comes to diagnostics features. We at Valmet hope to change all that.

Neles globe valve

Discovering the reasons behind underutilization

Valmet’s smart technologies, when correctly implemented into the process, have the potential to help refining and chemical industry operators improve the utilization rate of data. We recognize, and want to actively talk about, the many benefits of basing decision-making on accurate, real-time diagnostics.
In many cases the reason for not making the most of available diagnostics data stems back to outdated control system hardware that does not support communications protocols used by smart devices. It is worth remembering that the utilization of diagnostics is always possible. How easy it is to extract data simply depends on site infrastructure.

Understanding helps unlock potential

One reason we see smart devices being underutilized is simply due to lack of knowledge and understanding. With so many different vendors, all with different capabilities and diagnostics approaches, learning everything can be overwhelming. In many cases there simply isn’t enough time to get acquainted with and enjoy the full benefits of each smart device available or in use.

To make life easier, we at Valmet have paid special attention to creating devices with intuitive and extremely user-friendly interfaces. Improved usability of our devices spans from commissioning to daily use and maintenance operations. Our devices not only help you identify underperforming valves in the process, but also guide you through troubleshooting procedures.

Building a smarter maintenance culture

One more important aspect to fully utilize the diagnostics provided by smart devices is the maintenance culture on site. Typically, the maintenance approach has been preventive or even reactive, acting only on device failures. Smart devices like Valmet’s smart valve controllers enable predictive maintenance based on high-quality data on valve condition and performance.

However, it takes a strong organizational commitment from operations to management to make the most of the wealth of data available. Combining smart technologies, capable resources, and best practices as a predictive maintenance operation model ensures the best results.

Why processes are getting smarter

Profitability and process efficiency have traditionally been the key drivers for technological development in all industry. For the refining and chemicals industries safety and reliability have also been extremely important factors. The role and importance of sustainability, environmental performance in particular, has kept on growing year on year.

Smart technologies are just one way of improving the quality of industrial processes in terms of all of the beforementioned key concerns. In a way it could be said that the smart field devices have revolutionized the operation of process plants and are redefining the future.

Intelligence for control and ESD applications

For control valves Valmet’s smart product offering includes two options, the Neles ND9000 and Neles NDX series. Both series offer a wide range of diagnostics features, that are based on the data that the devices collect while controlling the valves during process run time and also on offline tests.

For ESD/ESV/BDV valves Valmet offers the Neles ValvGuard VG9000 series. As these types of valves typically stand still while the process is running, both offline and online tests are needed to provide information on the health of the valves. Being a smart device specifically designed for ESD/ESV/BDV valves, Neles ValvGuard offers market leading testing and diagnostics features for these safety applications.

Intuitive control valve Performance view of Neles ND9000.

Dedicated control for on-off applications

Unlike many other valve vendors, Valmet also has dedicated controlling devices available for modulating/regularly cycling on-off applications. The Stonel Axiom series is mainly meant for general purpose cycling on-off applications providing a basic set of diagnostics on valve performance.

At the same time the Neles SwitchGuard SG9000 series is Valmet’s intelligent solution for more demanding and high-cycling on-off valve applications. The SG9000 provides diagnostics features tailored for on-off applications and enhanced capabilities for controlling valve stroking times and profiles.

Your forward-thinking partner for smarter processes

Make sure to reap the benefits of Valmet’s wide array of smart technologies. Smart valve controllers act as the link between the valves and the DCS, AMS & ESD systems. Besides the main task of controlling valves according to control commands, the smart valve controllers also collect valuable diagnostic information on valve performance. Don’t let the valuable information within your process go to waste. Capture all available data and use it to make the most of your process going forward.

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