"Green" Thinking Shapes Instrumentation Best Practices

March 23, 2009
A Green Mindset Will Influence Many of Your Instrumentation Decisions

When you start applying “green” thinking to automation, the results you get can surprise you, as Dean Minehart, ABB’s instrumentation strategic account manager for the oil and gas market, showed in his presentation on “Green Instrumentation Engineering Practices,” at ABB Automation and Power World this week in Orlando.

“Green instrumentation can ensure safe and reliable operations so people are protected,” Minehart said. “It can minimize environmental impact so the environment is protected, and it can increase asset availability and ROI so the shareholders are protected.”

“ABB is a total life cycle provider,” Minehart added, showcasing ABB’s Safety Instrumented System portfolio. “These best-in-class safety ratings improve overall asset availability because the required proof-test interval (10 years) is longer than many other vendors’ products.”

“A green mindset will influence many of your instrumentation decisions.” ABB’s Dean Minhart examined how instrumentation choices affect such business outcomes as energy efficiency, environmental emissions and maintenance effectiveness.

Minehart noted that thinking green makes a difference in your choice of flowmeter too. He showed a chart of permanent pressure loss that indicated that a Venturi meter had significantly less energy loss than a conventional orifice plate meter. Minehart showed annual energy cost differentials for standard Venturis ($2,026/yr), a wedge meter ($8,917/yr), and orifice plate meters ($19,913/yr). “The payback on installing a ‘greener’ meter is nearly instantaneous,” Minehart said.

Valve positioners also can be designed with “green” in mind, Minehart said. ABB’s valve positioners’ maximum air consumption is 0.015 scfm, while Brand A is 0.817 scfm, Brand B is 0.35 scfm and Brand C is 0.20 scfm. That leads to a savings in energy cost of as much as $210,000 per valve positioner, depending on brand. “Green thinking works,” Minehart said.

Green product design can also reduce fugitive emissions. The new ABB differential pressure transmitter is designed with no flanges or gaskets and dual process isolation to minimize the chance of fugitive emissions, Minehart noted. Butt welding-process connections on wedge meters and Venturis, and ABB’s “compact orifice” design also are examples of green thinking.

Green thinking can also reduce asset footprint. The smaller size of ABB’s 364DS pressure transmitter means that many more can be located in the same panel or cabinet space than other, more conventional designs. This can be critical, especially in offshore or subsea applications. ABB’s swirl meter design can also reduce piping requirements because of its short straight-run requirements.

“Over 60% of instrument maintenance labor results in no action taken,” Minehart said, showing a well-known chart from Shell Global Solutions. “This is a waste of resources. Our predictive diagnostics can tell when an impulse line is getting plugged, or when a temperature sensor is beginning to fail, and give online valve performance indications.”

“Green instrumentation practices can have significant impact on your business objectives,” he concluded.