Digital field instruments accelerate petrochemical, process industries

Digital innovation of field instruments opens a new chapter of digitalization in the petrochemical and other process manufacturing industries.

By Stone Shi April 9, 2022
Courtesy: New Products for Engineers from CFE Media and Endress+Hauser

 

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how digitalization accelerates field instrument product innovation.
  • Examine how instrument heartbeats, cloud platform open a new chapter of digitization.
  • See how cloud platforms enable instrumentation applications and cybersecurity.

A digital factory cannot do without many sensors to collect data. For petrochemical and other process manufacturing industries, field instruments are sensors. They are eyes and ears of an intelligent factories to collect information in the production process and provide data support for production control, management and decision-making.

With the continuous promotion of digital intelligence, what challenges does the petrochemical industry pose to field instruments? How can field instruments meet the digital transformation needs of the petrochemical industry? During the 2021 China Smart Petrochemical Forum, an interview with Zhang Yuncai, General Manager of Endress+Hauser (China) Automation Co., Ltd., a well-known field instrument manufacturer, covered these topics.

Digitalization accelerates field instrument product innovation

For users in the petrochemical industry, data gathering is the first step toward digitization. To obtain more valuable data quickly and accurately, higher requirements are asked of traditional instruments, which requires digital product innovation.

Yuncai said the digital transformation has lead Endress+Hauser to increase digital product offerings. In addition to the original five on-site measuring instruments (flow, material level, pressure, temperature and viscosity), additions include analytical instruments for water quality and gas, which are necessary for process industry digitization and data collection.

Most Endress+Hauser instruments have digital twins. All information such as production information, status information and documents of instruments can be collected and used. With this information, petrochemical and other process industry customers can remotely monitor instrumentation operational status and health, and also can remotely manage instrument information. With instruments’ digital twins, all documents and firmware will be automatically updated and uploaded. Customers no longer need complicated document collection, search and management. Everything can be completed online, which improves workflow efficiencies.

At the same time, with the help of cloud technology, Endress+Hauser is active in the construction of digital supply chain to provide more efficient and creative changes for the operation and maintenance of modern chemical plants. At present, 90% of Endress+Hauser’s field equipment has been digitized. Each field instrument has a unique digital identification and an IP address, giving full play to the potential of digital factory to enable additional field and remote capabilities.

“Not only that, digital products also give users a good digital experience and make the transaction easier,” Yuncai said.

Endress+Hauser China has e-commerce platforms at different levels. The website helps compare product prices, place orders and track order status. For large customers, Endress+Hauser has B2B trading platforms through third parties, and its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is connected to the customer’s ERP system, which improves the digital trading experience for users and helps make trading more efficient, simpler and more transparent.

Endress+Hauser launches its IIoT solution platform, Netilion, an ecosystem combining digital services and system components to improve the lifecycle and asset management, maintenance, and support of instruments and analyzers. Netilion enables users to keep track of their installed base, documentation and data management, and instruments’ performance and health status. Courtesy: New Products for Engineers from CFE Media and Endress+Hauser

Endress+Hauser launches its IIoT solution platform, Netilion, an ecosystem combining digital services and system components to improve the lifecycle and asset management, maintenance, and support of instruments and analyzers. Netilion enables users to keep track of their installed base, documentation and data management, and instruments’ performance and health status. Courtesy: New Products for Engineers from CFE Media and Endress+Hauser

Instrument heartbeats, cloud platform open a new chapter of digitization

Machines, pumps, electrical appliances and instruments are very important for the operation of the factory. The problem of any small equipment may affect the smooth operation of the whole production line and the delivery quality of final products. Field instruments are the eye of building intelligent factory in petrochemical industry. Only by ensuring the stability and reliability of instruments can an intelligent factory become possible.

Digital technology can help ensure the stability and reliability of field instruments. Endress+Hauser has launched a creative platform technology-heartbeat technology, and Netilion, a cloud-based industrial Industrial Internet of Things platform, to improve the maintenance efficiency of field instruments and enable users gain digitization value.

Heartbeat technology refers to the technology that enables instruments to be permanently self-diagnostic, self-calibrating and self-monitoring without interrupting the process. Standardized diagnostic information provides clear operating instructions for efficient status-based maintenance. Automatically generated calibration reports also can be used as audit documentation for regulations, laws and standards. Pre-maintenance trend identification is achieved based on the instrumentation data and process data provided, allowing users to target process optimization analysis.

Yuncai said the heartbeat technology has been applied to all Endress+Hauser products. Users have shown how heartbeat technology improves device stability and reduces the cost of use.

Netilion IoT cloud platform is based on asset management and use data from Endress+Hauser. Field instruments can upload their information and measurement data to Netilion anytime, anywhere, and then use the tools and models on the cloud to perform in-depth analysis of the data for preventive maintenance, advance prediction of production failures, and optimization of production processes.

Cloud platforms enable instrumentation applications, cybersecurity

“Based on the Netilion cloud platform, we have developed many applications that allow users to view data from field instruments connected to the cloud platform via cell phone app or computer browser anytime, anywhere, not only limited to Endress+Hauser instruments, but also supporting instruments from other manufacturers,” Yuncai said.

At present, Endress+Hauser already has IoT-enabled flow meters and level meters that can be connected to Netilion, while other meters also can be connected to Netilion through a gateway.

Of course, users don’t have to worry about the safety of uploading data to Netilion, as Endress+Hauser has secured the Netilion ecosystem and connected meters in three ways: information security, cloud security and product security. The system has been certified by several third-party international security certification bodies.

“The combination of heartbeat technology and Netilion will produce greater value. The operations and maintenance (O&M) model of field instrumentation will be completely changed, and the previous passive, after-the-fact, manual experience-based maintenance model will become active, predictive maintenance that relies on data analysis, opening a new chapter in the digital factory of the petrochemical industry,” Yuncai said.

Stone Shi is executive editor-in-chief, Control Engineering China. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

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Stone Shi
Author Bio: Executive editor-in-chief, Control Engineering China