At the hydrostatic testing area of our operation we used to use a purely manual process of controlling pressure with pneumatic pumps and hand valves. Over pressurization risk was mitigated by installing pairs of relief valves that were calculated by the tester. This process inherently was risky due to the high possibility of human error in both controlling the equipment and calculating the relief valve pressures. The overall pressure graph was created using a chart recorder and a pressure transducer.
With the implementation of the Ignition SCADA system, we are able to automatically calculate the pressure relief and relief via automated ball valves vs small spring loaded relief valves. This takes the human error out of the process. We are also digitally recording the pressure and creating full reports right from the ignition software. When a test is complete, the report is automatically generated and ready to hand off to the customer.
Our risk of over-pressurization, has all but been eliminated from the process and the control of the pressure is nearly automated as well. Along with the professional look of the report, this is one of the most improved processes over the last 5 years.
Our drying oven is another piece of equipment we have implemented Ignition software one. We purchased a new drying oven in 2014 and had an ignition program developed to monitor the humidity of the cores during the drying process.
This program uses inputs from multiple thermocouples in the core, oven and exhaust streams to determine the humidity in the core, the temperature and the duration of the test. When all parameters are met, the oven indicates to the operator that the heat exchanger is dry and ready to be verified if in manual mode, but if in auto mode it will automatically switch to cooling mode and then shut it self down when cooling is complete.
This process used to be completely manual before and is now quite labor free. We are also able to record data throughout each drying process to determine changes to drying cycles to save time and energy. This data is also helpful in looking back at past drying cycles to determine how the process can be improved in the future to speed up the drying cycle via operating temps, air flow etc.
All of this information from hydro, to the drying oven, and other processes are able to be viewed from remote desktops for viewing 24/7. This helps trouble shoot issues remotely and keeps our down time to a minimum. This has also helped with operators that are new to the process on off shifts. I’m able to log in and walk them through an operation without being on-site.
Due to positive results from projects such as our hydro testing, drying oven and other processes, our company is looking at a long term project to put a full SCADA system together plant wide. We are in the infancy stages of developing this plan, but ultimately we would like to be able to pull in equipment from all parts of the production process so it can be accessed from anywhere on the network, locally or remotely. The amount of data that could be collected and used to improve processes is unlimited and we are only just beginning to experience the positive effects of using this type of system. We highly recommend it!
-Quentin Moller, Senior Manufacturing Engineer, Chart Energy & Chemicals, Inc