Peddling the lifecycle can produce pain, gain

Feel like you're pedaling (and peddling) as fast you can without traction? How big is your automation budget? How big's your maintenance budget? Talk much with your chief financial officer about how automation can help meet and exceed business goals? Don't assume that others in the organization—in maintenance, operations, or finance—know the long-term benefits automation can bring ...

05/01/2002


Feel like you're pedaling (and peddling) as fast you can without traction?

How big is your automation budget? How big's your maintenance budget? Talk much with your chief financial officer about how automation can help meet and exceed business goals?

Don't assume that others in the organization—in maintenance, operations, or finance—know the long-term benefits automation can bring to your business. It can be a pain, but you have to quantify lifecycle benefits and spread the message within your organization.

Apply automation, instrumentation, and controls thinking to the company's business goals, and ensure payback continues through the lifecyle. Doing so can secure wider benefits for your company and bulk up the logical investments in automation, instrumentation, and controls.

$19 million is a blast: Vlad Djuric, Dofasco Inc. (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), says automation helped maximize asset reliability there. Effective blast-furnace tap-hole maintenance—using sensors, data collection, and analysis—delivers $1 million a year for every year furnace lining life can be extended beyond a previously expected eight years. Savings of $19 million is expected. Mr. Djuric was keynote speaker at a recent PlantSuccess seminar held near Chicago.

In many applications, having an industrial network in place can be an enabling technology for lifecycle savings.

Break the bottleneck: To help monitor and control a new solvent recovery mixer, Rütgers Organics Corp. (Augusta, Ga.), used an Ethernet backbone, Profibus-PA and -DP for its field devices, AS-i for binary devices, and Siemens Energy & Automation's Simatic PCS 7 control system. It all tracks calibration drift; feedback linkage; and control valve wear, travel, sticking,and open/close status. Quick reconfiguration capabilities helped the recovery system reduce processing time 12-14 hours. Material, installation, and configuration savings totaled $25,000—60% in labor and 50% in materials compared to hardwiring.

Connections, maintenance: AEC Corp. (Wood Dale, Ill.) recently added distributed I/O devices on DeviceNet to its VacTrac Series VTC7/50D, which controls pneumatic conveying equipment for extrusion and injection molding applications. Installation time for conveying controls fell 50%; troubleshooting, replacement, and expansion became easier. It uses Rockwell Automation's Allen-Bradley KwikLink flat cable and ArmorBlock MaXum I/O devices.

Digital intelligence: Calcasieu Refining Co. (Lake Charles, La.) recently upgraded virtually all controls at its 22,000-barrel-per-day petroleum refinery from 25-year-old pneumatics and relay logic to FOUNDATION fieldbus and Emerson Process Management's PlantWeb architecture and Delta V process automation system. Operation and maintenance cost reductions and an increase in operating capacity are already yielding a projected annual return of 80% of the project's $1-million investment. Installation took six weeks, as opposed to an estimated six months. The retrofit involved FOUNDATION fieldbus, digital HART traffic, and a Modbus network.

More follows in Control Engineering's May 2002 cover article, "Spread the Word: Justify Investment in Fieldbus." More on the steel application is in Control Engineering "Daily News" on April 29.

Sure, quantification can be a pain, but you'll secure more approvals if you include lifecycle considerations among expected benefits.


Author Information

Mark T. Hoske, Editor-in-Chief mhoske@cahners.com




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