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September 12, 2007

Headlines from Today's Activities
- Lubrizol, Emerson Redefining Collaboration
- Digital Buses Expand Network for Plastic Pellet Maker
- Automation Helping Make Coal Power New Again
- Shell’s Search for the 1,800 °C Thermocouple
- Shell’s How to Add Up Process Automation’s Benefits

Lubrizol, Emerson Redefining Collaboration
Lubrizol and Emerson have been working on a "way out on the bleeding edge" project to embed batch process analytics into the control system in real time to enable batch repair in mid-process. Lubrizol's Bob Wojewodka, technology manager and process improvement team leader, and Philippe Moro, information systems manager and team leader of the integration and architecture team from Lubrizol in Rouen, France, together with Emerson's Terry Blevins, principal technologist for process systems and solutions, chat with Walt Boyes, editor in chief of Control. This is the first time either Emerson or Lubrizol have shared this work publicly.

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Digital Buses Expand Network for Plastic Pellet Maker
Fieldbuses won’t take you to the Promised Land—just to an improved network and better control applications. Oh, but the ride may be a little bumpy.

Beyond the required hardware and software updates, perhaps the most important shift is the psychological change that developers and operators must make when implementing digital bus networks.

These are some of the lessons that engineers at Advanced Elastomer Systems learned when they recently replaced and expanded their Florida-based facility’s industrial network. Dave DeBari, Advanced’s senior process engineer, reported on these experiences in his “Bus or Space Ship?” presentation this week at the Emerson Global Users Exchange 2007 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, near Dallas.

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“I’ve really gone from having overloaded three-foot cable trays to having a whole networking world that I can hold in one hand.” David DeBari of Advanced Elastomer Systems shared lessons learned from his company’s implementation of Foundation and other digital buses.


Automation Helping Make Coal Power New Again
According to NETL, the National Energy Technical Laboratory, coal is where all the North American energy resides. According to Tom Snowdon, former Houston Lighting and Power plant manager, and now power industry consultant for Emerson Process Management’s Power and Water Solutions business, it’s time to look at how to modernize coal-fired power plants and how to produce new, optimized plants from scratch.

The way to do this, he said, “is to establish automation design criteria that address key design objectives.” He noted that automated intelligence and streamlining and integrating the plant with a plant-wide architecture are key ingredients. Optimizing project execution is the other big part of the puzzle.

“It’s all about enabling plant personnel to deliver optimal results,” Snowdon said. “We have to be able to deliver economic benefits for the next thirty to fifty years.”

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“It’s all about enabling plant personnel to deliver optimal results.” Tom Snowdon discussed the power industry’s effort to modernize coal-fired power plants so they continue to deliver economic benefits for many years to come.


Search for the 1,800 °C Thermocouple
How interesting can thermocouples be, anyway? If you’re building a gasification plant, they can be very interesting indeed, especially if they are a frequent point of failure.

Jack Jones of Shell Global Solutions gave a quick tutorial in “Gasification 101” this morning at Emerson’s Global Users Exchange at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Conference Center in Grapevine, Texas. “There are two kinds of gasification systems,” he said, jabbing at his competition, “even though other people don’t think so. There are liquid systems that take liquid feedstocks, such as bottoms and liquid byproducts, and make syngas from them. We’ve been building them since 1956 and currently have 87 gas/oil units operating. There are also solids gasification systems, which are newer, and we have five units in operation. These units use coal, lignite, pet coke, oil residue, biomass and other relatively low-BTU solids for their feedstock.”

Temperature is the important controlling parameter for a gasification system. Emerson’s Steffen Langner, director of temperature for Emerson Europe, took over the tutorial at this point to talk about thermocouples.

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Jack Jones of Shell Global Solutions discussed Shell’s pursuit of temperature instrumentation that could reliably withstand the nasty temperature and pressure extremes of the company’s gasification processes.


How to Add Up Process Automation’s Benefits
What have you done for me lately? And how much?

Everyone knows that process automation delivers efficiencies and time and labor savings, but it seems that few users can calculate these gains and express them in dollars and cents.

Maybe engineers are so focused on keeping their applications running that they forget to keep score, or perhaps they see automation’s benefits as so obvious that its gains aren’t worth calculating. Whatever the reason, specific benefits analyses often don’t reach management levels. This is unfortunate because administrators need to be reminded frequently about why it’s crucial for them to fund their applications’ process automation capabilities.

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“The justification for process automation modernization is one of the most difficult steps to complete during the planning process.” Emerson’s John Dolenc offered a back-to-basics tutorial quantifying the benefits of automation in language even a bean counter can understand.


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