ABB users say: Don’t wait for a disaster to upgrade instrumentation


Orlando, FL —Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the instrumentation at the DuPont First Chemical facility, but after restart 102 days later, benefits of the upgrade were being recorded. Separately, Dow Chemical learned how standard, integrated safety systems can accumulate significant savings. These were just two of many end-user stories among presentations at the ABB Automation World 2007 Users’ Conference and Exhibition on March 20.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the instrumentation at the DuPont First Chemical facility in Pascagoula, MS, in November 2005. It was under 9 ft. of debris-filled salt water for at least eight hours, making it a temporary home for snakes, fish, and alligators. Although it wasn’t the only contractor, ABB’s share of the facility’s post-Katrina reconstruction project included: 220 pressure transmitters, 56 temperature transmitters, 60 manifolds, 15 rotameters, 68 I/P signal converters 23 P/I signal converters, 3 handheld communicators, 4 chart recorders, and 159 technical support hours.

Restart was 102 days later, and the subsequent instrumentation upgrades there and elsewhere delivered savings of 15-30%. The installation of more efficient instrumentation increased production by 14%. Additional savings were expected over time with reduction of onsite part numbers, better management of inventory and maintenance, and more efficient production.

Reconstruction information and “don’t wait for a disaster to upgrade” advice came from Ricky Tanner of DuPont First Chemical. Additional stories came from James K. McCrone, ABB national sales director for instrumentation, who spent time at the plant, and from Ed Byrd, from the Mississippi office of ABB distributor Regal-Brown, who was on-site starting two days after the storm. McCrone told attendees they could save up to 30% in ongoing operational costs with a measured, proactive instrumentation review. Such a review would cover design, spending, inventory, updates, consolidation, and more.

For Dow Process Automation, safety measures were where process engineers could become cost-savings heroes. Safety is too often seen only as a cost, said Scott R. Mourier, Dow Process Automation. But safety, especially when integrated with automation, can increase reliability and save money by avoiding downtime.

For Dow, Mourier said other safety system benefits include embedded advantages, such as efficiencies from using the same programming language and tools, improved communications (no time delays) between safety and basic controls, and synchronized regulatory control and safety functions. Higher reliability also results from availability of safety instrument field measurements: Better diagnostics create better performance, he said.

Standard operator views are the same for automation and safety, Mourier added, reducing opportunity for mistakes. Further data standardization helps with improvements and analyses across facilities.

Next year’s ABB Automation World conference is scheduled for April 29-May 1 in Houston.

—Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief

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