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New Monitoring and Analytics Tools Improve Plant Performance

  Where is your company at in its digital transformation journey? Just starting, well along, or still waiting? 

One reason to begin or make progress on such a journey is improving diagnostics by digitizing the process.

Case in point: Electric utilities are coming to grips with industry changes as generation capacity shifts. The need to run the remaining plants differently can impact efficiency if operators and the reliability team don’t know what’s happening. Fortunately, while these changes are disruptive, the tools to solve the problems and smooth over new ways of working have never been better. Has your company implemented any of these tools yet? If not, here’s how. 

 The IIoT makes the process of monitoring equipment condition and performance far easier and less expensive than ever before. That’s the topic of our article in the December 2019 issue of Power, New Monitoring and Analytics Tools Improve Plant Performance. Here’s a key point:

 Analytics platforms designed to crunch and sort data gathered via smart sensors are providing users with the ability to apply predictive diagnostics to equipment and assets. More data is available now than ever before, largely due to new sensors supported by WirelessHART transmitters. It is now possible to collect continuous condition and performance data on large populations of assets (Figure 1) thanks to lower hardware and installation costs.

There are WirelessHART instruments to monitor most of the equipment and key assets common to a generating plant, including CCGT units, which are often under-instrumented. Here are some possibilities:

  • Pumps, motors, and gearboxes
  • Heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs)
  • Cooling towers
  • Heat exchangers

Data gathered needs to move to the next stage—analytics—which can be done automatically using platforms like Plantweb Insight:

Once processed, engineers can use data to predict problems before they affect operations. This allows maintenance, reliability, safety, plant engineering, and other departments to make quicker, more-intelligent decisions about their operations. With these educated decisions come cost savings, cost avoidances, improved maintenance and reliability, better safety, and improved heat rate.

The article goes into more detail, so give it a read and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you know where the “bad actors” are in your plant? What are the components and equipment taking up more than its share of maintenance time and cost?
  • What were the causes of your most recent outages? Do you have a good handle on where those problems originated? How you can keep the same thing from happening again?

Let’s hear about your situation. How far have you gone in automating data collection and analysis? You can tell others about your implementations and experiences at the Emerson Exchange365 community forum, a place where you can share ideas and experiences with others in the same situation. It’s a site where you can communicate with experts and peers in all sorts of industries around the world. Look for the Power and Essential Asset Monitoring Communities, plus other specialty areas for opportunities to provide input, suggestions, and answers.

1 Reply

  • Guess you mean digitizing WORK procesSES. The core process control (like power generation) is already pretty much automated by the DCS. Digitization is about transforming the remain tasks that are manual and paper-based: such as reliability/maintenance, energy efficiency and emissions, and personnel safety and health. This is where mass-adoption of wireless sensors and readymade analytics is automating the data collection and interpretation to become more responsive.

    It is interesting to note that power produces increasingly build a fleet management center covering multiple plants. With wireless sensors and readymade analytics these centers can now be upgraded to “fleet management 4.0” also supporting performance and condition management beyond operation. Going digital is how industry tackles challenges like asset maintenance, efficiency, and sustainability from a new generation of command center - particularly with many smaller plants in remote locations. Industrie 4.0 solutions are used for digital transformation of site work managed from a command center. This includes managing reliability, emissions, and integrity using an IIoT-based Digital Operational Infrastructure (DOI) with analytics on a foundation of wireless sensors - modelled on the NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) to not jeopardize safety and robustness of the core process control. Learn how other plants improve from this essay: