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Dow Chemical realizes reliability improvements

Sept. 25, 2015
To reduce its valve-related problems, Dow developed a three-pronged approach. Find out what they are.
Reliability is a critical concern in any industrial environment. Just ask Dow Chemical, a leading worldwide producer of plastics, chemicals and agricultural products. Dow's plant in Deer Park, Texas, manufactures methyl methacrylate, acrylic acid, amines and various acrylates. It occupies 700 acres along the Houston Ship Channel and employs eight production areas that operate as separate facilities or "plants within a plant."

Until recently, production downtime was a common occurrence at Dow Deer Park. The site historically averaged 50 unplanned events each year. Among the various instrumented technologies in the plant, control valves were the most likely to suffer wear and cycle damage.

Thanks to its efforts to infuse cultural improvements into effective reliability strategies, Dow Deer Park received the 2013 HART Plant of the Year Award. The facility implemented HART technology as part of a reliability enhancement program to monitor critical control valves connected to asset management software for diagnostics, failure analysis and preventative/predictive maintenance.

By utilizing HART technology as part of a comprehensive reliability program, Dow Deer Park minimized production problems caused by control valve failures and realized an 85% improvement in unplanned, instrument-related downtime. The facility recorded just eight unplanned events in 2014 and mean time between failure (MTBF) rates in production units improved. Results have been promising through the first three quarters of this year.

To reduce its valve-related problems, Dow developed a three-pronged approach:

  • Prioritize the most critical valves
  • Adhere to sound spare-parts-management practices
  • Institute effective overhaul and condition-based maintenance strategies

Working with Deer Park's process automation team, the instrument reliability team deployed two software packages to track real-time instrument and control valve performance. These tools now communicate equipment deficiencies to the site's subject-matter experts and indicate when failures occur or are about to occur.

For Dow Chemical, access to intelligent information from HART instruments significantly reduced costs and improved plant operations as it enabled the transition from reactive to proactive maintenance. The Deer Park plant has benefited from condition-based management, which allows its maintenance department to institute corrective action based on real-time data to prioritize and optimize maintenance resources.

With this solution, plant personnel are able to pinpoint the root cause of an asset failure, devise a temporary solution to the problem, and then develop a plan-of-attack to avoid future issues.

The HART Plant of the Year is awarded annually to recognize the people, companies and plant sites around the world using HART communication in real-time applications to help improve operations, lower costs and increase availability. Previous award recipients include Monsanto (USA), Shell (Canada), MOL (Hungary), Mitsubishi Chemical (Japan), PVSDA (Venezuela), Statoil (Norway), Sasol Solvents (South Africa), BP (USA), Clariant (Germany) and Dupont (USA).

Gain global recognition for your innovative use of the FieldComm Group technologies. To nominate your plant for the FieldComm Group 2015 Plant of the Year, visit go.fieldcommgroup.org/award.