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How to Increase Plant Efficiency and Safety with Level Measurement Technology

 As Patricia Mattsson points out in her article at automation.com, How to Increase Plant Efficiency and Safety with Level Measurement Technology, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for measuring level, given the huge variety of equipment configurations and process conditions.

Blending tanks and reactor vessels often present difficult environments for level technologies due to internal devices, foam and condensation, all of which affect measurement performance significantly. A well-chosen measurement technology—ultrasonic, differential pressure, point level switches, guided-wave radar (GWR) or non-contacting radar—can enhance measurement and process performance.

 That’s quite a menu of solutions, and Emerson has offerings for all of them. The article digs into several broad and specific application categories from storage tank overfill protection systems to steam drum level control in boilers, so it’s worth a full read. For our purposes, let’s concentrate on one area, non-contacting radar transmitters using FMCW technology.

Non-contacting radar can see around obstacles such as agitators, avoiding the noise created by these devices which can affect the quality and reliability of measurements. Recent developments of non-contacting radars based on frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) technology, improve the reliability and accuracy of measurements, especially when applied to complex and demanding applications.

FMCW isn’t new technology, in fact it goes back decades, and the devices available today, such as the Rosemount 5408 Level Transmitter, are direct descendants of the earliest models, but with many improvements over the years. FMCW has some significant advantages over traditional pulse modulation approaches, but for years, the power requirements of FMCW designs made them impractical for two-wire installations. Fortunately, Emerson’s engineers found ways to reduce power consumption, making the Rosemount 5408 suitable for use as a two-wire transmitter. What’s more, it has been designed from the get-go for ease of use in real-world plant environments.

Technological improvements have been matched by efforts to simplify installation, operation and maintenance. In the past, a successful installation depended on knowledgeable technicians within the plant. Now, intuitive software interfaces guide users through the installation and commissioning phases along with maintenance procedures too, ensuring that all tasks are simple to perform. This supports greater worker efficiency, while ensuring that devices are working correctly and providing the information needed for safe and efficient operation.

All these elements work together to deliver better products with important technical improvements, but never forgetting the human side of the equation. The result?

Level measurement applications are just one area where effective instrumentation can improve plant performance as chemical manufacturers face challenges of recruiting and retaining trained operators. Automating routine measurements and functions helps make processes easier to control while saving key people for more important responsibilities. There are more and better technologies available now than ever before.

You can find more information like this and meet with other people looking at the same kinds of situations in the Emerson Exchange365 community. It’s a place where you can communicate and exchange information with experts and peers in all sorts of industries around the world. Look for the Level Group and other specialty areas for suggestions and answers.

Posted by Deanna Johnson, Director Integrated Marketing Communications for Machine Automation Solutions