The self-diagnostic capabilities of intelligent sensors are helping plant managers and engineers manage their data and see when it’s time to step in to prevent disruptions.
Data is helping businesses to do things that were previously impossible – or that at least took much more time, effort and resources. It can verify assumptions, predict outcomes and unlock efficiencies. However, can you really be sure that the data you receive is reliable?
Smart sensor technology is removing doubt from data by delivering real-time diagnostics to plant asset management (PAM) systems. While regular sensors also have diagnostic capabilities, they cannot transmit this information to PAM systems. As a result, irregularities may not be identified until the time of routine maintenance. This makes it more difficult to avoid disruption.
As smart sensors are part of the Industrial Internet of Things, they have the built in ability to self-diagnose, predict their own maintenance requirements and send this information PAM systems, so plant managers have constant, reliable information about the condition of analysers and field instruments.
The value of smart sensor technology was in the spotlight during the recent Co-innovation Forums, presented by Yokogawa Australia and New Zealand, a leading provider of industrial automation, information management, solutions and instrumentation.
A presentation by Nick Crowe, Product Manager Analytical Yokogawa ANZ, focused on the ways in which intelligent sensor data can eliminate plant disruptions.
“In the past, if someone wanted to extract diagnostic information from a sensor, they needed to physically go into the plant and interrogate the device,” Crowe said.
“Now, smart sensors can perform real-time diagnostics, so plant managers can stay informed of any maintenance issues from the comfort of their office. With this knowledge, they can step in to prevent any disruptions.”
Crowe cited an example of an older generation pH analyser which lacked diagnostic capability and was malfunctioning.
“It went outside of its specification and this impacted the chlorine analyser, which is further down the process line,” he said.
“As a result, the wrong amount of chlorine was put into the water system. Fortunately, the water industry has very strict checking procedures, so they were able to detect the problem very quickly. However, a smart sensor could have averted the problem by picking up the pH anomaly in real-time and delivering this information to the PAM system.”
Making maintenance easier
Yokogawa’s SENCOM 4.0 smart sensor platform is the latest in smart liquid analysers and if a fine example of how an intelligent sensor can streamline plant maintenance, reduce configuration time and decrease disruption through real-time analysis.
Yokogawa is a world leader for reliable liquid analytical equipment, which provides accurate solutions for maintaining and controlling even the most demanding process applications.
“SENCOM 4.0 gives people more choice of when they do maintenance and it builds more trust that the data being collected is correct,” Crowe said.
“With the extra information that intelligent sensors can provide, people can also see the condition of the sensor itself – is it changing rapidly, is there a blockage, is something broken, does it need to be replaced?”
Smart sensors also make maintenance much simpler, added Crowe.
“Many people don’t realise that Process analysers in general are maintenance-intensive instruments,” he said.
“The easier we can make maintenance, the more likely it is that it will be done regularly, and this helps to build greater trust that the data you are collecting is correct.”
Crowe is seeing greater adoption of smart sensors as more people see the benefits of the information they deliver.
“With the available intelligence in sensor elements, they’re enabling the transformation of plant asset management tools to truly become predicting, scheduling and planning tools,” Crowe said.
“They are transforming plant operations and making maintenance so much easier.”
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