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LEVEL GAUGING Emerson Process Management has been busy enhancing its product offering while still finding time to sign new deals across the globe. Partnering with users in the oil and chemicals sectors is helping it extend the applicability of its gauging systems
US-based Emerson Process Management (EPM), working in close collaboration with Netherlands-headquartered Vopak, the world's largest independent tank storage provider, has developed "a software solution specifically for [the] management and optimisation of bulk liquid terminals". Based on the Logistics module in Emerson’s Syncade™ platform, which, EPM explains, "provides intelligent links between IT and industrial automation technology", this new software application has been successfully deployed at the recently completed Vopak fuel distribution terminal at Amsterdam Westpoort in the Netherlands.
"For Vopak, the focus of this project was to investigate the possibility of improving service levels and increasing efficiency by deploying intelligent information technology for management and control of our terminals," says Vopak's global director of information and communication technology Ton van Dijk. "In addition, we wanted to make improvements in other areas, such as safety, speed and asset optimisation."
"We developed this new software application to meet the requirements of Vopak and have now made it available to other terminal companies," adds Guido Wink, EPM's general manager, sales and marketing for the Netherlands. "Vopak provided the terminal technology and logistics know-how and we have converted this into a specific application for managing bulk liquid terminals."
Developed to support the expanding terminal market, the new application within Syncade Logistics comprises advanced planning and integrated stock management tools, order handling and auto-routing and is also aligned with the liquids handling application within Emerson's DeltaV™ digital automation system. Through links to Emerson's DeltaV™ process automation system and to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Syncade Logistics, EPM says, "provides savings at the administrative level".
"Using our own performance indicators, we have been able to compare the performance of the Amsterdam Westpoort terminal using the Syncade Logistics application with our other terminals," van Dijk continues. "Because this was a prototype installation of Syncade Logistics, the initial handling of orders was not flawless, but the results show faster order handling and an efficiency improvement of up to 30 per cent. We also believe that safety has improved, although we will require a longer period to substantiate this. With Syncade Logistics we were able to process larger than expected order flows in a highly efficient manner. This indicated an increase in the processing capacity and speed of the new application. We are currently expanding our storage and processing capacity by constructing new facilities in other parts of the world. Emerson's Syncade Logistics application will be used at these new facilities."
New kit too
Meanwhile, EPM has enhanced its Rosemount® 2160 IEC 62591 (WirelessHART®) vibrating fork liquid level switch with faster update rates and advanced broadcasting functions to improve its suitability for critical level control applications. The 2160 switch also boasts improved diagnostic capabilities to help reduce plant maintenance costs, with typical applications for the level device including overfill protection, high and low level alarms, pump control (limit detection), pump protection and empty pipe detection. "The Rosemount 2160 level switch now provides one-second update rates, extending the range of suitable level control applications to include fast moving applications, such as those found in batch filling," the company says, adding that "wireless network redundancy and robustness enable customers to confidently extend their use to critical monitoring and control applications".
For monitoring applications, a unique trending capability enables the collection of data samples for a specified device variable, it continues. This reduces the number of transmissions over the wireless network, thus optimising power module life. "A new advanced broadcasting function ensures that changes in process value, frequency of the vibrating fork, battery voltage or temperature are transmitted immediately, thereby improving both safety and diagnostic capability," EPM says.
As the 2160 has no moving parts, only minimal maintenance is required. "The condition of the forks is continuously monitored to help identify corrosion, build up or damage. Plant-wide alerts can be configured to warn of changes to an instrument's status, giving operators advanced warning of any potential health problems," it notes. "Should an operator need to inspect the unit, a new 'squawk' feature helps operators identify a specific device. An integral LCD display showing switch output states and diagnostics provides real time, accurate verification of process conditions."
The 2160 liquid level switch "is virtually unaffected by flow, bubbles, turbulence, foam, vibration, solids content, coating, liquid properties and product variations" and has been designed for use in extreme temperatures, performing "in harsh process conditions that are unsuitable for other switches". Two 2160 models are available, covering temperatures ranging from -68°C to 260°C.
In other news, BP Exploration has named EPM as its automation contractor of choice for offshore oil and gas operations in BP's North Sea Region. As such, EPM will be BP's preferred supplier of integrated control and safety systems for five offshore fields in the UK continental shelf, including the new Clair Ridge platforms and the Quad 204 floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel.
The news follows an earlier agreement in which the company was named a Main Automation Contractor for BP projects globally. By standardising on a single contractor for its North Sea region, BP expects to gain significant benefits, including efficient project execution, training, maintenance and support. "We are already working together on several North Sea projects," says Steve Barber, BP Exploration programme leader for major automation projects. "This closer relationship will help us make the most of Emerson's technologies and expertise across the region."
Under the terms of the agreement, EPM will provide a wide range of services for control and safety systems, encompassing front-end engineering and design to installation, testing and support. The integrated systems, which EPM says "will help BP run its North Sea operations safely and efficiently", include the DeltaV digital automation system, the DeltaV SIS™ process safety system and the AMS Suite predictive maintenance software. "Becoming contractor of choice is a major milestone in our long and productive relationship with BP," says EPM president Steve Sonnenberg. "We appreciate this vote of confidence in our oil and gas automation capabilities and we look forward to adding even more value as we help BP meet the challenges of North Sea operations."
The appointment comes shortly after BP Exploration chose EPM Rosemount 5300 Series guided wave radar (GWR) transmitters to replace a set of unreliable level transmitters used on one of its FPSO vessels in the Atlantic. "Operating 160 km off the west coast of Africa, the BP FPSO processes and stores oil production for export. At 310 m in length, it has an oil storage capacity of 1.77 m barrels and can process up to 240,000 barrels per day," EPM explains. "Changing process conditions and the presence of foam and vapour, as well as dirty sticky fluids, made this a difficult application for measuring level."
Furthermore, the original GWR transmitters supplied by another vendor "had compatibility issues with the FPSO's FOUNDATION fieldbus network" while "their limited capabilities in detecting low-dielectric hydrocarbons required coaxial probes to increase the strength of the surface signal". Such probes, EPM continues, "are susceptible to the build-up of sticky solid materials entrained within the production fluid, which led to a significant number of unplanned shutdowns with resulting lost production".
To address these issues, BP and EPM worked together to replace these existing units with Rosemount 5300 GWRs. "With Emerson's advanced signal-processing technology that ensures detection of low dielectric fluids, the Rosemount GWR is able to send and receive a cleaner, stronger signal," EPM states. "This allows the use of single-lead probes that increase tolerance to solids build-up and coating and eliminate trips due to false readings. In addition, the Rosemount 5300's FOUNDATION fieldbus interface made installation and configuration both quick and easy."
The improved level detection that ensued has also led to an improvement in safety. "The susceptibility of the existing GWRs to material build-up on the co-axial probes and their inability to distinguish the presence of a light hydrocarbon layer on top of the water meant that the level measurements were unreliable. This unreliability compromised one of the layers of protection used to ensure safe operations," EPM explains. "Following the installation of the Rosemount 5300 GWR transmitters, the process data has confirmed the accuracy and reliability of the instruments and their suitability for the widely varying process conditions of the FPSO."
Back on dry land, EPM has also been picked by Jubilant Life Sciences (JLS) to provide process automation technologies and services at three pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in Gujarat state, India. "We are setting up world-class manufacturing facilities," says Mukul Dixit, JLS's senior vice-president of projects. "Emerson's team brought the process automation expertise we needed to meet global standards and their solutions have equipped us to significantly improve the automation level and enhance our plant efficiency."
Emerson recently completed installation of its PlantWeb™ digital plant architecture at the three plants, including DeltaV digital automation systems, Rosemount measurement instruments and the AMS Suite predictive maintenance software. "The DeltaV system's advanced batch-control capabilities enable agile manufacturing to help companies like Jubilant Life Sciences meet real-time demands," explains Amit Paithankar, managing director and vice-president of EPM, India. "We appreciate Jubilant's continued confidence in our technologies as well as our life-sciences expertise."
EPM previously automated JLS process plants in India's Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra states, with EPM reporting that 15 of the top 20 life science companies in India use its technologies. Indeed, across India more than 275 DeltaV systems have so far been installed for customers operating in such fields as chemicals, petrochemicals, oil and gas, refining, metals and life sciences.
Owned by St Louis, Missouri-based Emerson, which finished 2011 with sales totalling $24.2bn, EPM describes itself as "a leader in helping businesses automate their production, processing and distribution" in the chemical, oil and gas, refining and life sciences sectors among others. Combining "superior products and technology with industry-specific engineering, consulting, project management and maintenance services", its main brands include PlantWeb, Syncade, DeltaV, Fisher, Micro Motion, Rosemount, Daniel, Ovation and AMS Suite.