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FEATURE INDUSTRY 4.0/IIOT A MEASURE OF PERFORMANCE


David Lincoln, digital lead for ABB Measurement &


Analytics, looks at how digitalisation is helping to unlock the potential of instrument data to improve productivity, efficiency and safety


J


ust as the human brain relies on sensory inputs to make sense of the world,


today’s digitalised industrial systems are demanding accurate, reliable and timely data to help inform decision-making. The quest to get more intelligence out of


measuring instruments is nothing new. The introduction of the HART (Highway Addressable Remote Transducer) protocol in the mid-1980s set the foundations for overlaying a digital signal over a 4-20mA current, allowing more information than just the base process parameter to be obtained from an instrument. Since that time, HART has been joined by a range of other digital communications protocols, including PROFIBUS, Modbus and FOUNDATION Fieldbus. Companies have been enjoying the benefits of “digital” for several decades. However, many have often only been scratching at the surface, lacking either the software tools needed to turn data into information or the expertise and/or resources to manage and analyse it. Advances in instrumentation, control systems, Cloud and Edge computing, and the Internet of Things (IOT) have exponentially increased the breadth of deployment and overall availability of processing capabilities. These offer several strategic benefits for greater plant efficiency, at both operational and maintenance levels.


MAXIMISING DEVICE VALUE As digitalisation has advanced, so too has the scope for being able to maximise the value of both new and existing devices by fully unlocking their digital potential, providing additional data that can be used to hone decision-making at the operational and maintenance levels. One example is the ability to extract


additional data from an instrument or analyser beyond its primary function. Devices such as chemical analysers and level transmitters, for example, can also provide additional parameters, expanding


18 MARCH 2020 | PROCESS & CONTROL


the number of measurement points at a site. Similarly, data from electromagnetic flowmeters that measure conductivity in a pipe can help to detect changes over time that might indicate the need to adjust chemical dosing levels in water treatment processes. By analysing the richer datasets from instruments, operators can spot variations in performance, enabling them to take corrective action. Some of this data can improve the process itself, whilst some can indicate long-term asset health.


OPTIMISING MAINTENANCE Knowing in advance when your instrument or process is going to need attention can help to save a lot of time and trouble later, including the potential risk of non- compliance with regulations. An additional benefit is the continuing transition away from maintenance conducted to a strict schedule, towards condition-based maintenance. As well as ensuring smooth process performance and eliminating unplanned downtime, this can also be beneficial when it comes to resource


From control rooms to handheld devices, operators are now able to view process data in a variety of formats


deployment, with engineers only being deployed to site when necessary and maintenance parts only being replaced when needed.


LOOK UP TO THE CLOUD The introduction of Cloud-based infrastructures within industrial settings is transforming the possibilities for maximising the value of data. Via the Cloud, people and systems can share and directly or remotely access inputs from process-line instrumentation and signals directed to a variety of control equipment such as PLCs, SCADA, and DCS. Developments in display technology


Modern instruments enable operators to access a variety of both device-level and operational data, opening up new possibilities for


instrument maintenance and process performance


The use of QR code technology to report technical issues is helping to simplify operation and maintenance of measurement devices


coupled with advanced data analysis mean all this data can be viewed in a variety of situationally dependent formats. Users can view and interact with data on large touch screen displays in control rooms, while technologies such as Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication) make it possible for smart portable devices to be used to poll, troubleshoot and configure instruments in the field, making it faster and less costly. The inclusion of web servers in these same instruments allows users to remotely scroll through menus, view instrument health information and to make or change settings and navigate between different data views. With many organisations facing a shortage of experienced operating staff, technologies are also being drafted in from the consumer world to help simplify device operation. An example is ABB’s use of QR codes to help operators to report and solve device problems. By scanning the code with a mobile phone app, an operator can relay data about the instrument to our support team, who can then offer remote assistance.


DIGITALISATION YOUR WAY When it comes to digitalisation, it is important to remember there is no single ‘one size fits all’ answer that can be installed and left to run by itself. Depending on your expectations, experience and willingness to invest, digitalisation can be a series of incremental changes within a department/ site or a sweeping transformation across multiple locations of an enterprise. Digitalisation itself is a tool, not a goal.


The journey should start by identifying which part of your process has a problem you want to solve or an area that you want to optimise, and using that to drive your digitalisation approach. As an experienced provider of a range of


digital instruments and analysers, ABB can help you to find the best way to optimise plant performance through digitalisation.


ABB www.abb.com/measurement


/ PROCESS&CONTROL


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