Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Process Control Solution for Dosing and Discharging of Bulk Goods - Demonstration Video

Ebro Cycle Lock system for dosing and discharging bulk goods
EBRO Amaturen Cycle Lock System
Industrial processing applications can sometimes require controlled dosing or dispensing of bulk dry material. Transfers may be injected into an ongoing continuous process, or may be coordinated with a filling operation. There are many possibilities.

One manufacturer has developed a system for controlling the dispensing and flow of bulk solids and powders, combining the necessary valves, sensors, and controllers into a pre-engineered package that can be easily integrated into a new or existing process. The EBRO Armaturen Cycle Lock is compatible with a wide range of communication protocols and can operate as a standalone unit or part of a larger system. The Cycle Lock accommodates all of the manufacturer's extensive line of control valves. The bulk material chamber can be customized in shape, size, material, and coatings to meet customer requirements.

The demonstration video illustrates the operating modes of the Cycle Lock. More information and assistance with all your process control challenges is available from product application specialists. A product data sheet is available.



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Developing an Effective Alarm Strategy

Petrochemical plant refinery tanker ship
Effective alarm plans are an important part of a process
Industrial process control operators and designers have the capability to measure many aspects of machine operation and process performance. Determining the elements to measure, method of measurement, and how to handle and process the derived information can be challenging, but can also impact the security, performance, and safety of an operation. A plan for monitoring, reporting, and responding to abnormal process conditions, if properly developed and executed, can yield real benefits to a process operator. A protocol that is not well conceived may produce a negative operational impact by creating events that unnecessarily draw resources away from productive endeavor. That protocol, or plan, is often referred to as an alarm plan.

There are numerous forces that can influence the development and implementation of an alarm plan. Each operation must incorporate its own set of external regulatory requirements, internal procedures and policies into a complete alarm protocol. Distilling that macro description down to a workable set of procedures and response tasks is where the real work begins. There is, however, a basic framework that can help organize your thinking and focus on what is most important.

  • What parameters define the process or operation?
    Produce a schedule of every non-human element that is required to make the process function. This will require drilling down through every machine and material that is part of the operation. Expect the schedule to be extensive, even huge. If it is not, consider that your analysis may not be reaching deep enough. The goal here is to create an overview of what makes the process work and provide a tool for systematically studying the process elements and gleaning possible commonalities or relationships among them. Consider disregarding things that cannot be measured, since that prevents the derivation of data for evaluation. Review the completed schedule and decide which parameters shall be measured and evaluated for proper performance.
  • What level of measurement is needed for each monitored parameter?
    An assessment of the needed accuracy, frequency, and resolution for parameter measurement will help define the requirements for instrumentation or other devices used to monitor a particular item. The goal is to make sure the monitoring device is capable of detecting and delivering information of sufficient quality to make decisions.
  • Define the limits of acceptability for each monitored parameter.
    Until the endpoint of the process or operation, each step is likely dependent in some way on previous steps. The output of each step becomes the input of the next. While this, in many cases, may be an oversimplification, it is important to consider the relationships between the
    industrial control automated filling line process automation
    High speed filling operation
     tasks and operations that comprise the process. Monitored parameters should relate to the successful completion of a process step, though not necessarily be a direct indicator of success. The maintenance of the parameter within certain bounds may be used as an indicator that a component of successful completion was properly attained. Defining limits of acceptability may involve an element of subjectivity and will likely be customized to accommodate the process. Each organization shall evaluate their operation and determine limits based upon intimate process knowledge and experience.
  • Define abnormal operation for each monitored parameter.
    Abnormal operation may not necessarily be any value not within what is considered acceptable. Consider abnormal to be the range of values that would be cause for notification of the operator, or even automated or human intervention. Note that the definition of unacceptable or abnormal operation might appropriately include filters or defined relationships with other parameters. An example of a simple filter is a time delay. If the measured variable exceeds the specified limit for 2 seconds, it make not be significant. If the threshold is exceeded for 2 minutes, it may be cause to take action. As with the limits of acceptability, developing the definition of abnormal operation for each parameter will be customized for each process.
  • Provide a defined response for every alarm occurrence.
    If it is important to monitor something, then it is likely important to do something when things get out of hand. Human executed alarm response should be concise and uncomplicated, to reduce the probability of error. Automated response should be designed in a manner that provides for functional testing on a regular basis. The scope of the response will be specific for each process, with the level of response depending upon factors determined by the process operators. Response can be as simple as annunciating the condition at a monitoring station, or as dire as shutting down part or all of the process operation.
  • Review every alarm occurrence
    Each alarm event should be logged and reviewed. Consider whether the event detection and response was adequate and beneficial. If the results were less than expected or desired, assess whether changes can be made to provide improved results in the future. The alarm plan is unlikely to be perfect in its first incarnation. Be prepared to reevaluate and make changes to improve performance.
The exercise of developing a comprehensive alarm plan will help to build understanding of process operation for all involved parties. This article is but a brief synopsis of the subject, intended to get the reader on the path of developing a useful alarm plan. Your alarm plan should an extension of process operation decision making, and have a goal of enhancing safety and reducing loss. Contact the process control and combustion specialists at CTI-Controltech for additional input.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

New Product for Burner Monitoring and Control - Video

Fireye Burner Pro Flame detection and burner management controller
Burner Pro - Burner Management Controller
While all industrial applications carry an array of safety concerns and requirements, combustion operations have the threatening combination of fuel and flame to accommodate. Even very small combustion apparatus can produce extremely dangerous conditions if improperly maintained or operated. The combustion process requires close control, monitoring, and automatic safety response to provide suitable operation.

Fireye, a manufacturer of state-of-the-art commercial and industrial flame safeguard controls, flame scanners and igniters, has introduced an addition to their burner management control systems. The new Burner Pro Flame Safeguard Control provides simplified operation for single point applications using integrated flame safeguard and boiler control operation .​

Fireye brand products are used in schools, factories, petrochemical plants, power utilities and other large buildings throughout the world. The video included below provides a quick description of how the Burner Pro works. You can find out more about how to apply the Burner Pro to its best use from a combustion specialist.


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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Protection From CyberSecurity Threats to Industrial Control Systems

industrial control panel
Every type of industrial control system is vulnerable
to some level of intrusion
Industrial control system owners, operators, and other stakeholders should be aware of their exposure to malicious intrusion and attack by individuals or organizations intent on inflicting physical damage, stealing information, or generally wreaking havoc throughout an industrial operation. The risk of intrusion, regardless of the size or type of facility, is real and deserves the focused attention everyone involved in the design and operation of industrial control systems.

The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, part of the US Department of Homeland Security, ...

serves as a central location where a diverse set of partners involved in cybersecurity and communications protection coordinate and synchronize their efforts. NCCIC's partners include other government agencies, the private sector, and international entities. Working closely with its partners, NCCIC analyzes cybersecurity and communications information, shares timely and actionable information, and coordinates response, mitigation and recovery efforts. (from www.us-cert.gov/nccic)

The NCCIC has published a set of seven basic steps toward establishing a more secure industrial control system. I have included the publication below, and it is interesting and useful reading for all involved in industrial process control.

Having a fence around an industrial site, with a guarded entry gate, no longer provides the level of security needed for any industrial operation. Read the seven steps. Take other actions to build your knowledge and understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity is now another layer of design tenets and procedures that must be added to every control system. It will be a part of your company's best practices and success, now and in the future.

There are uncountable legacy controllers and communications devices throughout industrial America. All need to be reassessed for their vulnerability in the current and upcoming security environment. When reviewing your processes and equipment, do not hesitate to contact CTI Controltech for assistance in your evaluation of our products.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Learn From Industrial Accident Review and Analysis - Video Included

petroleum storage tanks
Every industrial facility has a signature array of hazards
Industrial accidents range in severity and impact from minuscule to catastrophic. As operators, owners, or technicians involved with industrial operations, we all have a degree of moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to conduct our work in a manner that does not unduly endanger personnel, property, or the environment. Maintaining a diligent safety stance can be helped by reviewing industrial accidents at other facilities. There is much to learn from these unfortunate events, even when they happen in an industry that may seem somewhat removed from your own.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, or CSB, is an independent federal agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents. Below, find one of their video reenactments of an explosion that occurred in Texas in 2013, along with their findings regarding the cause of the incident. Check out the video and sharpen your senses to evaluate potential trouble spots in your own operation.

Contact CTI Controltech for any safety related information you may need concerning their lines of industrial process control and combustion products.