March 26, 2009

Headlines from Today’s Activities
- Get Everyone Involved and Call Me in the Morning
- System 800xA Helps Wed Process Control and Safety
- Shell Uses Remote Services to Reduce Onsite Staff
- Information Management’s New Frontier
- Digital Positioner Boasts Flexibility, Performance
- Progress Continues on Petrobras Evolution


Get Everyone Involved and Call Me in the Morning
A new asset management system may promise to alleviate production headaches, but, according to Bayer HealthCare’s David Kavanaugh, the real prescription for project success hinges on the involvement of all stakeholders in the implementation process.

Kavanaugh, principal PCS engineer at the company’s global headquarters in Berkeley, Calif., spoke of lessons learned in asset optimization by his company at the ABB Automation and Power World 2009 this week in Orlando. “Once implemented, reevaluate the abilities of the new system,” he explained. “And use your end users a lot on this. Planning and scope are critical, but be flexible. We thought we knew what we needed, but we didn’t. The maintenance guys who are using it came up with a lot of changes.”

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“With complexity comes flexibility and opportunity.” Bayer HealthCare’s David Kavanaugh discussed the company’s early experiences in using the ABB System 800xA platform for asset optimization.

System 800xA Helps Wed Process Control and Safety
Process control and process safety have worked closely together for a long time. But, as with people’s relationships in the workplace, some would counsel against them getting too close, arguing a respectful and necessary distance. However, what the critics don’t realize is that simplified systems and software are allowing process control and safety to maintain their functional independence and diversity, but still combine for a very harmonious, long–term relationship.

“Combining safety and process control can be a pretty taboo subject sometimes, and so it needs to be discussed and demystified,” says Luis Duran, safety business development manager for control systems in ABB’s process automation division. “This includes understanding how to use the applicable safety standards and how integration truly works.”

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"The main question to answer is do they have enough functional diversity to avoid a common–cause failure.” ABB’s Luis Duran explained how to reap the benefits of process control and safety integration–without compromising either one.

Shell Uses Remote Services to Reduce Onsite Staff
The Ormen Lange gas field, discovered off the coast of Norway in 1997, contains an estimated 400 billion standard cubic meters of gas. But getting at the gas is no easy feat, given water that’s 1,000 m deep, subzero temperatures, an irregular bottom and strong ocean currents. The stream of gas, condensate and water produced from sub–sea wellhead equipment is transported via pipeline through fishing grounds and around areas of coral to an onshore plant, before the gas is sent to the offshore Sleipner platform and then on to England, a distance of some 1,000 km.

Royal Dutch Shell, which operates the field, relies increasingly on remote access to efficiently and effectively manage these difficult–to–reach assets: remote access by its own experts as well as the contracted expertise of ABB.

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Click here to see a video describing how Shell overcame the significant environmental challenges posed by the Ormen Lange gas field off Norway.

“The goal is low on–site manning. There are no specialists on–site.” ABB’s Bjarte Onar Birkeland explained how remote services are enabling Shell to realize, among other goals, 70% condition–based maintenance in gas production facilities.

Information Management’s New Frontier
Promises of salvation through information technology and software are so numerous, old and threadbare by now that many folks might not recognize IT’s simple saving grace when it finally arrives. Poor timing and a lack of appreciation are often the fate of saviors.

For instance, genuinely useful information management (IM) means giving users access to all the specific data they need to make better manufacturing and business decisions literally whenever and wherever they want it. This kind of information management finally gets everyone on the same page, so all the left hands finally know what all the right hands are doing in even the most far–flung applications, projects and organizations.

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“Today it’s no longer enough to simply execute a production plan.” ABB’s Jim Kline discussed the role of information management in addressing manufacturers’ need to manage plant economics and energy.

Digital Positioner Boasts Flexibility, Performance
Digital valve positioner product manager Naas DeJager showcased the new TZIDC digital valve positioner at a session called “Improve Flow Efficiency with Digital Valve Positioners,” but it could have been called “This Cool Positioner Does Everything You’ve Ever Asked For” instead.

For over an hour, DeJager reeled off product features along with how and where to use them. “This is an all–round positioner that we’ve designed to work with every kind of control valve,” DeJager said. “It can be configured to be a single– or double–acting actuator and can work as a linear actuator with plug and seat valves, or as a rotary actuator with ball and butterfly valves.”

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“Nobody else can do any of this.” ABB’s Naas DeJager described the groundbreaking features of the company’s new TZIDC digital positioner.

Progress Continues on Petrobras Evolution
Petrobras, the Brazilian oil and gas giant, recently undertook an extensive five–year agreement with ABB to upgrade its refineries to the System 800xA architecture for both automation and power control. The project consists of the retrofit and integration of existing Infi90 control systems, an existing System 800xA, an Advant system controlling the plant power system and, in the future, six more System 800xA implementations as plant expansions come on–line to improve the product quality of fuel to meet U.S. import requirements.

Eliane Valvano Corrêa da Silva from the Petrobras REDUC refinery was in the midst of a site acceptance test (SAT) for one phase of the project, so was unable to attend this week’s ABB Automation and Power World conference. In her stead, ABB’s Antonio Carvalho updated attendees on progress made to date on the ambitious project.

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“We’ve supplied an entire operator training and simulation facility, including portable buildings.” ABB’s Antonio Carvalho gave an update on Petrobras’ five–year modernization plan.

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