Ensuring an Accurate Result in an Analytical Instrumentation System Part 1: Understanding and Measuring Time Delay

Overview:

Process measurements are instantaneous, but analyzer responses never are. From the tap to the analyzer, there is always a delay. Unfortunately, this time delay is often underestimated or not accounted for or understood. Time delay in sample systems is the most common cause of inappropriate results from process analyzers.

In many cases, it is invisible to operators and technicians, who are focused on the necessity of making the sample suitable for the analyzer. It is not unusual for operators to assume that the analytical measurement is instantaneous. In fact, sample systems often fail to achieve the industry standard of a one minute response.

As a general rule, it's always best to minimize time delay, even for long cycle times, but delays extending beyond the industry standard are not necessarily a problem. The process engineer determines acceptable delay times based on process dynamics.

Delays become an issue when they exceed a system designer's expectations. A poor estimate or wrong assumption about time delay will necessarily result in inferior process control.

This article is intended to enhance understanding of the causes of time delay and to provide the tools required to calculate or approximate a delay within a reasonable margin of error. We will also provide some recommendations for reducing time delay. The potential for delay exists in the follow sections of an analytical instrumentation (AI) system: process line, tap and probe, field station, transport line, sample conditioning system, stream switching system, and analyzer.

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Author: Doug Nordstrom and Tony Waters, Swagelok  | File Type: PDF

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