Modular Still Matters

The Process Analyzer Industry and One of Its Largest User Communities Must Get Away from Building "Steel Copies of Wooden Bridges"

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The entire HPI/CPI missed a crucial tipping point with the loss of momentum to use NeSSI Gen II connectivity and NeSSI Gen III pressure and flow indication and control devices. There was a six-month window where this connectivity and component development was in beta test applications, but this refiner could not accept the risk that NeSSI Gen II and Gen III would fail to reach critical mass in time for this very important expansion project to move forward smoothly within its return-on-investment schedule.

Some enlightened HPI/CPI customers were making use of classic proportion process analyzers with NeSSI Gen I sample conditioning systems, NeSSI Gen II data exchange/component control systems, and NeSSI Gen III digital bus flow/pressure monitor/control devices by Circor. These NeSSI Gen III transducers and control devices can replace classic pressure-indicating gauges, indicating/controlling variable-area flowmeters (rotameters), and pressure-controlling regulators.

An early adopter of this technology was a catalyst producer. In its R&D pilot plants in the Midwest, the company used classic proportion laboratory analyzers with NeSSI three-generation system technologies.

Another early adopter was the West Coast refinery of a major international refining company. In this refining application, analyzer maintenance personnel justified the NeSSI three-generation system concept based on reduced maintenance time requirements. Maintenance personnel would no longer walk long routes on a daily basis, tapping on pressure gauges and rotameter tubes to see if the reading was current, or if the indicator (needle or float) was stuck in some position within the instrument. Instead, this refiner’s personnel would enter their analyzer shop each morning and check an "exception printer." The NeSSI devices would communicate through the NeSSI-bus Gen II communication system onto the refinery fiberoptic communication network to generate an exception report for any analyzer where pressure or flow values were outside of preset limits. Now the maintenance personnel would only visit process analyzer applications where a problem was known to exist based on monitored and transmitted data. Maintenance personnel were now able to use their time to perform preventive maintenance activities to further reduce process analyzer field problems.

Today's process units in most CPI/HPI plants were built between 1944 and 1974. In the ensuing 50+ years, they have become incredibly complex and crowded as modifications, optimizations and upgrades have been "shoehorned" into the original plot plan. Today’s economic climate is one of "What have you done for me this quarter? Positive results this fiscal year?" Nobody but engineers want to wait two to three years for design and construction and another one or two to turn a profit from the resulting process unit performance. The HPI/CPI can no longer afford classic model process analyzer systems enclosed in classic model process analyzer shelters.

HPI/CPI operating companies must communicate to process analyzer companies, process analyzer system component companies and process analyzer system integration companies, and tell them that products using the "NeSSI concept" need to be developed within their organizations. This must take place in order for widespread application of NeSSI process analytical measurement system applications to be deployed.

The critical requirement for these near-future process analytical systems is to control input to the more easily understood and currently implemented industry-wide advanced process control initiative. HPI/CPI processes can’t be controlled without reliable knowledge of process variables reported within the timeframe of the response dynamics of HPI/CPI processes.

The reengineering of classic process analyzer system components to the NeSSI format typically results in equal-or-better performance from the NeSSI format device due to advances in machining and material technologies. If well-respected process analyzer and process analyzer component vendors produce well-engineered NeSSI systems, these vendors will be rewarded with significant sales opportunities in support of NeSSI systems and the NeSSI maintenance model. The hydrocarbon and chemical processing industries need cost-effective process analyzer systems. Which process analyzer vendor will fulfill this HPI/CPI requirement? 

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