June 2020

While end users in the process industries began to digitise their plants decades ago with the introduction of “smart/intelligent,” digitally integrated process transmitters and final control devices, pumps and valves have often been last in the queue. Andy Pye, consultant editor for PWE, reports. T he ability for smart valves and pumps to improve process performance, condition monitoring and maintenance effectiveness is substantial. Advanced diagnostics and bidirectional communications can also improve environmental compliance and plant safety. In the post-CoVID world, this trend will accelerate, as maintenance managers in manufacturing plants may have to operate under lockdown and service engineers may experience difficulties in undertaking regular visits to client premises. Advanced pump controller On the smart factory shop floor, pumps are increasingly required to supply real-time operating data so that their performance can be monitored and adjusted. Torque is one key performance indicator: a gradual increase in pump torque may suggest increasing flow to compensate for growing leakage; a sudden increase may indicate a blockage downstream of the pump, while a sudden reduction may be due to an upstream blockage. One difficulty is how to connect torque sensors to equipment such as pumps, mixers and conveyors. Wiring up one machine using a delicate slip ring is quite feasible, but in a highly automated factory may have hundreds or thousands, so the task becomes untenable. An alternative approach is to use a non-contact radio frequency detector. Sensor Technology’s new Bluetooth module is a totally wireless approach to torque measurement. The TorqSense is a wireless sensor that replaces physical wiring and slip rings with radio wave communications. It can be used with virtually all pump-based systems, from microdosing of active Process, Controls & Plant Focus on: Pumps & Valves Pumps and Valves: New normals, new challenges 24 | Plant & Works Engineering www.pwemag.co.uk June 2020 ingredients in pharmaceutical production. Fitting a TorqSense typically takes about one-fifth the time required for a conventional hard-wired transducer. A virtual valve repair service Depending on the criticality and the application, established maintenance plans can vary from daily monitoring to less-frequent inspections and repairs. Ensuring valves meet operational standards requires detailed record-keeping and right- skilled talent to oversee the repair. Now, to help plant operators respond to urgent issues, Emerson has launched a Remote Assistance service which uses augmented reality (AR) to facilitate real-time repair. Using a mobile device, plant personnel can securely share their field of view through the AR software, enabling Emerson’s valve engineers troubleshoot and solve the problem. Step-by-step instructions are overlaid in the field-user’s application to support installation, calibration or repair actions. “Our customers are supporting critical infrastructure through the global health crisis that we’re experiencing, but they still encounter issues where they need outside help,” says Clint Schneider, director of Emerson’s digital valve services. “Through the use of this technology, we are able to continue our promise of support while protecting essential on-site staff and Emerson technicians.” Taking the heat out of cell cultures Peristaltic pumps also play a critical part in the bioreactors working flat out to manufacture a range of vaccines in sufficient volume to defeat the pandemic. In one application, the pump has internal tubing that separates media from pump Virtual support: Emerson experts maintaining valves remotely via augmented