Process plant equipment: Operation, control and reliability

By: Admin
Jul 31 2017

Process plant equipment: Operation, control and reliability
Process Plant Equipment Book is a great publication from Wiley as a reference book for those who will work or are working in chemical production plants and refinery. It explains in details both fundamental information on process plant equipment and to practical ideas, best practices and experiences of highly successful engineers from around the world.

First of all it is important to know what plant equipment is. As per definition it is personal property of a capital nature consisting of equipment, furniture, vehicles, machine tools,test equipment, and accessory and auxiliary items, but excluding special tooling and special testequipment, used or capable of use in the manufacture of supplies or for any administrative orgeneral plant purpose.

From energy to pharmaceuticals to food, the world depends on processing plants to manufacture the products that enable people to survive and flourish.
A long-held misconception is that operations employees are not responsible for reliability at plant sites. Instead, they assume reliability is handled by a completely separate department. This type of "silo" mentality, while prevalent at plants worldwide, does not result in a reliable, world-class operation. In fact, operations must take an active — not passive — role in plant reliability. Progressive companies recognize this and treat maintenance and reliability as processes, not departments. Unfortunately, the vast majority of companies have not adopted this progressive view.
In order to have a reliable, efficient operation, the various departments within operations must function like part of a process. Production must collaborate with and feel ownership of the maintenance, reliability and technical departments. The role of the internal customer remains important, but it is only one role. In companies that have the best reliability processes, production plays the role of not only the internal client but also of owner, director and partner, as seen in the diagram below.

Plant operators play a critical role within process manufacturing facilities. These team members oversee the equipment, assets and personnel necessary to run a successful chemical, petrochemical or refining facility. Operators maintain and record readings and measurements of process control instrumentation and equipment to ensure an optimal level of performance and production, while also scheduling and coordinating maintenance efforts as necessary. Ultimately, an operator’s goal is to improve the plant’s product quality, efficiency and safety, while complying with applicable regulatory requirements.

Recognizing the impact of proper operator driven reliability (ODR) on the overall operation of a facility cannot be understated. Experienced and/or properly trained operators are able to assess and manage the reliability aspects of assets and systems. On the other hand, inexperienced and improperly trained operators typically struggle to manage plant performance.
Degradation of asset reliability due to gaps in leadership support, technology utilization and employee competency typically leads to significant, undesirable economic, safety and environmental consequences.
In some facilities, the potential impact that the operations department has on the health of plant equipment is minimized, due to a lack of understanding of the value of operator’s duties. For instance, in some cases, operators are simply appointed as “valve turners” or “meter readers.” Facilities that do not enforce stringent training programs requiring operators to thoroughly understand aspects of the equipment to which they are assigned, the chemistry behind what they are doing and how external forces can impact the facility’s processes, are far more likely to fail at optimizing and maximizing efficiency. As a result, overall performance of the plant will be negatively impacted. At these facilities, the operators are not encouraged or required to understand the complex processes that they are assigned in order to maintain and control the equipment or assets. This practice results in process inefficiency, downtime and a higher risk for safety issues.
Operations departments must ensure that their personnel are trained to quickly troubleshoot and correct problems before they get out of hand. For example, if an issue requires the operator to “call out” someone else to initiate corrective tasks, the chances of a quick resolution are slim if the operator is not trained or otherwise guided to be able to quickly identify these situations, and take effective and timely action.
Operators are the eyes and the ears of a process plant. Therefore, operators are optimally positioned to resolve issues before they escalate and become catastrophic. As part of operator driven reliability, operators should be able to detect equipment and process abnormalities, as operators not only control the process, but also provide the primary surveillance on equipment operability. For example, when performing Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) studies, operations personnel are usually assigned the bulk of risk mitigation tasks, due to the fact that they observe the equipment on a daily basis and, will most likely be the first to recognize an early problem before a catastrophic failure occurs. Well-trained operations personnel have the ability to operate safer, better and faster, and are therefore of significant value to the facility.

In addition to process training, it is also vital that facilities provide mechanical and fundamental instrument & electrical (I&E) training relevant to the operator’s assigned area. This training enables operators to fully understand the inner workings of their equipment. With this knowledge, they will better recognize changes in sound, temperature, vibration, output and other variables, which can facilitate the early detection of degradation and pending failure, and initiate proactive intervention. Operators can also better control or eliminate external, often random failure causes (e.g. oil condition, operating envelopes, etc.) which can significantly increase overall equipment availability and economic life.
Early detection via focused operator surveillance (e.g. excessive vibration, overheating, etc.), can help minimize repair costs and allow intervention to reduce or avoid such production losses. For example, after initiating weekly handheld vibration readings by operators in one facility, an operator found a reading out of range, which triggered the immediate response of contacting the rotating equipment team. After further assessing the equipment condition, the rotating equipment team determined that the pump should be switched out with the standby pump as soon as possible.
Additionally, console operators possess the ability to optimize processes while monitoring multiple variables on the Process Control System (e.g. DCS, PLC, SCADA). The console operator is expected to maximize efficiency and output, often working with the outside operators to achieve these goals (i.e. comparing operating points with outside local indicators to verify accuracy, comparing lab sample results to real time GC analyzer sample measurements and making outside equipment adjustments, etc.).
The console operator has the ability to trend data that will help identify any degradation of equipment performance. Signs of degradation can be identified through control valve positions, feed flow rates, product flow output rates, temperatures, pressures and verifying product composition to meet required specifications through field analyzers, to name a few signs.
Properly trained operations personnel provide the first step in efficiently optimizing performance of a process facility. Properly focused and structured operator rounds serve as the basis for operator driven reliability practices, providing significant benefits, including:
The impact of most equipment failures can be minimized when operators “know” their equipment and understand what “normal” and “abnormal” looks like. This holistic approach can help minimize repair costs, reduce down time, mitigate or eliminate safety hazards, and even extend equipment life. Operator surveillance should be developed via a defined reliability process, such as RCM, which will assure each activity directly adds value, and is justified.
When there is a heightened awareness of the role of equipment ownership, the best practices in reliability are more likely visible. Reliability cannot be driven by the maintenance organization. It must be driven from the operating units and led from the top.
Reliability and maintenance should be seen as processes, not departments. Operations has an important role to play both as owner of the equipment and as the driver of reliability. This does not mean that all reliability line organizations have to report directly to operations, but they should give an account of the status and reliability of the equipment to the equipment owners (operations) to drive better outcomes.

To achieve operations-driven reliability, operations/production should be in the driver's seat, since they own the equipment. They have the point of view of criticality and risk. They own the losses and should feel empowered to intervene directly. They also are trained to quick-fix. They feel ownership for the cost or the investment required to give a better return. They explain what they need to their partners. They make equipment available for maintenance, and they work with planners and schedulers to define the correct scope. They also give approval and constructive feedback regularly to those who provide them with updates, thus improving the service-partnership relationship.
Maintenance and reliability are more processes than they are departments. As such, the maintenance and reliability processes are driven by the people who have the knowledge, skills and attributes to drive improvement. Operations-driven reliability breaks down silos and focuses everyone on the joint goal together.
Operations-driven reliability is essential for progressive plant operation. It applies to refineries, chemicals, metals, cement or any manufacturing or customer-focused process where there is a joint goal of increasing profit within tolerable and acceptable risk levels. It breaks down silos and ensures that maintenance and reliability are not just departments but integral processes. When operations-driven reliability works, it delivers results and is sustainable. The commitment and hard work required to achieve it are well worth the effort.

Process plant equipment: Operation, control and reliability
Process Plant Equipment Book is a great publication from Wiley as a reference book for those who will work or are working in chemical production plants and refinery. It explains in details both fundamental information on process plant equipment and to practical ideas, best practices and experiences of highly successful engineers from around the world.

First of all it is important to know what plant equipment is. As per definition it is personal property of a capital nature consisting of equipment, furniture, vehicles, machine tools,test equipment, and accessory and auxiliary items, but excluding special tooling and special testequipment, used or capable of use in the manufacture of supplies or for any administrative orgeneral plant purpose.

From energy to pharmaceuticals to food, the world depends on processing plants to manufacture the products that enable people to survive and flourish.
A long-held misconception is that operations employees are not responsible for reliability at plant sites. Instead, they assume reliability is handled by a completely separate department. This type of "silo" mentality, while prevalent at plants worldwide, does not result in a reliable, world-class operation. In fact, operations must take an active — not passive — role in plant reliability. Progressive companies recognize this and treat maintenance and reliability as processes, not departments. Unfortunately, the vast majority of companies have not adopted this progressive view.
In order to have a reliable, efficient operation, the various departments within operations must function like part of a process. Production must collaborate with and feel ownership of the maintenance, reliability and technical departments. The role of the internal customer remains important, but it is only one role. In companies that have the best reliability processes, production plays the role of not only the internal client but also of owner, director and partner, as seen in the diagram below.

Plant operators play a critical role within process manufacturing facilities. These team members oversee the equipment, assets and personnel necessary to run a successful chemical, petrochemical or refining facility. Operators maintain and record readings and measurements of process control instrumentation and equipment to ensure an optimal level of performance and production, while also scheduling and coordinating maintenance efforts as necessary. Ultimately, an operator’s goal is to improve the plant’s product quality, efficiency and safety, while complying with applicable regulatory requirements.

Recognizing the impact of proper operator driven reliability (ODR) on the overall operation of a facility cannot be understated. Experienced and/or properly trained operators are able to assess and manage the reliability aspects of assets and systems. On the other hand, inexperienced and improperly trained operators typically struggle to manage plant performance.
Degradation of asset reliability due to gaps in leadership support, technology utilization and employee competency typically leads to significant, undesirable economic, safety and environmental consequences.

In some facilities, the potential impact that the operations department has on the health of plant equipment is minimized, due to a lack of understanding of the value of operator’s duties. For instance, in some cases, operators are simply appointed as “valve turners” or “meter readers.” Facilities that do not enforce stringent training programs requiring operators to thoroughly understand aspects of the equipment to which they are assigned, the chemistry behind what they are doing and how external forces can impact the facility’s processes, are far more likely to fail at optimizing and maximizing efficiency. As a result, overall performance of the plant will be negatively impacted. At these facilities, the operators are not encouraged or required to understand the complex processes that they are assigned in order to maintain and control the equipment or assets. This practice results in process inefficiency, downtime and a higher risk for safety issues.
Operations departments must ensure that their personnel are trained to quickly troubleshoot and correct problems before they get out of hand. For example, if an issue requires the operator to “call out” someone else to initiate corrective tasks, the chances of a quick resolution are slim if the operator is not trained or otherwise guided to be able to quickly identify these situations, and take effective and timely action.

Operators are the eyes and the ears of a process plant. Therefore, operators are optimally positioned to resolve issues before they escalate and become catastrophic. As part of operator driven reliability, operators should be able to detect equipment and process abnormalities, as operators not only control the process, but also provide the primary surveillance on equipment operability. For example, when performing Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) studies, operations personnel are usually assigned the bulk of risk mitigation tasks, due to the fact that they observe the equipment on a daily basis and, will most likely be the first to recognize an early problem before a catastrophic failure occurs. Well-trained operations personnel have the ability to operate safer, better and faster, and are therefore of significant value to the facility.

In addition to process training, it is also vital that facilities provide mechanical and fundamental instrument & electrical (I&E) training relevant to the operator’s assigned area. This training enables operators to fully understand the inner workings of their equipment. With this knowledge, they will better recognize changes in sound, temperature, vibration, output and other variables, which can facilitate the early detection of degradation and pending failure, and initiate proactive intervention. Operators can also better control or eliminate external, often random failure causes (e.g. oil condition, operating envelopes, etc.) which can significantly increase overall equipment availability and economic life.
Early detection via focused operator surveillance (e.g. excessive vibration, overheating, etc.), can help minimize repair costs and allow intervention to reduce or avoid such production losses. For example, after initiating weekly handheld vibration readings by operators in one facility, an operator found a reading out of range, which triggered the immediate response of contacting the rotating equipment team. After further assessing the equipment condition, the rotating equipment team determined that the pump should be switched out with the standby pump as soon as possible.

Additionally, console operators possess the ability to optimize processes while monitoring multiple variables on the Process Control System (e.g. DCS, PLC, SCADA). The console operator is expected to maximize efficiency and output, often working with the outside operators to achieve these goals (i.e. comparing operating points with outside local indicators to verify accuracy, comparing lab sample results to real time GC analyzer sample measurements and making outside equipment adjustments, etc.).
The console operator has the ability to trend data that will help identify any degradation of equipment performance. Signs of degradation can be identified through control valve positions, feed flow rates, product flow output rates, temperatures, pressures and verifying product composition to meet required specifications through field analyzers, to name a few signs.
Properly trained operations personnel provide the first step in efficiently optimizing performance of a process facility. Properly focused and structured operator rounds serve as the basis for operator driven reliability practices, providing significant benefits, including:

The impact of most equipment failures can be minimized when operators “know” their equipment and understand what “normal” and “abnormal” looks like. This holistic approach can help minimize repair costs, reduce down time, mitigate or eliminate safety hazards, and even extend equipment life. Operator surveillance should be developed via a defined reliability process, such as RCM, which will assure each activity directly adds value, and is justified.
When there is a heightened awareness of the role of equipment ownership, the best practices in reliability are more likely visible. Reliability cannot be driven by the maintenance organization. It must be driven from the operating units and led from the top.

Reliability and maintenance should be seen as processes, not departments. Operations has an important role to play both as owner of the equipment and as the driver of reliability. This does not mean that all reliability line organizations have to report directly to operations, but they should give an account of the status and reliability of the equipment to the equipment owners (operations) to drive better outcomes.

To achieve operations-driven reliability, operations/production should be in the driver's seat, since they own the equipment. They have the point of view of criticality and risk. They own the losses and should feel empowered to intervene directly. They also are trained to quick-fix. They feel ownership for the cost or the investment required to give a better return. They explain what they need to their partners. They make equipment available for maintenance, and they work with planners and schedulers to define the correct scope. They also give approval and constructive feedback regularly to those who provide them with updates, thus improving the service-partnership relationship.

Maintenance and reliability are more processes than they are departments. As such, the maintenance and reliability processes are driven by the people who have the knowledge, skills and attributes to drive improvement. Operations-driven reliability breaks down silos and focuses everyone on the joint goal together.

Operations-driven reliability is essential for progressive plant operation. It applies to refineries, chemicals, metals, cement or any manufacturing or customer-focused process where there is a joint goal of increasing profit within tolerable and acceptable risk levels. It breaks down silos and ensures that maintenance and reliability are not just departments but integral processes. When operations-driven reliability works, it delivers results and is sustainable. The commitment and hard work required to achieve it are well worth the effort.


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