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Most of us would agree that the future is important. We make many decisions every day that affect our future - from what we eat, to how much we exercise, and even to what we buy. For example, when it comes to buying a car, the desire may be to purchase a Porsche, but the car’s value does not increase over time. The wiser choice would be to purchase a more reasonably-priced car and to invest the money for future use.
The same can be said of a manufacturing facility. Plant operations managers need to make the right decisions today that will ensure the viability of their facility for decades to come. They owe it to themselves and their future employees and colleagues to make the right decisions now to sustain the facility for the future.
The following are some questions that plant operations managers should consider as they look five, ten and even 20 years down the road:
Operators of aging manufacturing plants need to make decisions now that keep changing technologies in mind. It is possible to extend the life of the facility by keeping an eye to the future. Think about the future in every decision that you make. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but it’ll save you time in the end.
Replacing aging manufacturing equipment can result in the following benefits:
Involving a knowledgeable system integrator can help to guide your company so you can make the right decisions today to ensure a strong future. A successful integration firm has the ability to collaborate with clients to identify and select best-in-class platforms, design and implement systems, and provide verification and validation documentation and services. It's also important to have a knowledge of programmable logic controllers (PLC), human machine interface (HMI), distributed control systems (DCS), and information applications.
At Avid, we are committed to providing unique answers to our manufacturing partners through our process of Outcomes-Based Engineering (OBE). By listening to the needs of our clients, we provide independent and unbiased answers and recommend best-in-class technology solutions that meet and often exceed expectations. We have developed a process batch documentation and implementation library that greatly streamlines batch configuration, troubleshooting, and maintenance.
Whether it’s retirement planning, saving for your children’s education, or planning for the future success of your manufacturing facility, there’s no time like the present to get started. As with most things in life, keeping an eye to the future is important.
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In the United States, 94% of plants miss their scheduled start date after a process control systems upgrade. When schedules slip, expenses add up quickly. For plants operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, a single day of lost production can cost $600,000 or more. At that rate, the price of a delayed start-up will surpass your capital investment within a week. Fortunately, with some advance planning, you can ensure a timely start-up and avoid such losses.
We collaborate with clients to identify, design, and implement the best industrial automation solutions. We also provide the installation and commissioning expertise you need to “Get Your Plant Back Online, On Time.” Based on that experience, we’ve compiled the following start-up guidelines for a successful automation system upgrade:
Because a process control systems upgrade is a significant investment, you may find yourself looking for ways to reduce start-up expenses. But, outsourcing your start-up project to your install contractor or trying to manage it in-house comes with risks. Working with a dedicated start-up specialist, on the other hand, allows you to foresee and resolve issues that could threaten your project timeline.
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Chemical makers are always looking for affordable ways to increase the sustainability of their operations. Fortunately, there are a number of inexpensive steps you can take to improve the triple bottom line of people, plant, and profit. To get started, consider these ideas from this recent article in Chemical Processing.
Refine Loop Control
If you can only focus on one sustainability measure, make it loop tuning. Inefficient loop control causes valves to oscillate more than necessary, which leads to premature wear, more frequent replacement, and greater power usage. By contrast, a well-tuned loop can produce a desired output repeatably, accurately, and efficiently. Plus the payback period is often only a matter of hours.
Implement Regular Boiler Maintenance
Poorly maintained package boilers typically consume more fuel than necessary, so they increase a plant’s carbon footprint and waste money. To improve boiler efficiency, you’ll want to reduce stack losses, minimize air leaks, improve heat transfer, and recover waste heat. In some cases, you may even need to consider replacing an old system with one that provides more effective boiler control.
Fix Steam Leaks
A leaking steam trap that’s only 1/8-in. in diameter can cost a plant almost $15,000 per year – and the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 15-20% of all steam traps leak. Not only is this expensive, it’s dangerous. You can limit these costs and hazards by conducting an annual steam-leak survey or using an ultrasonic detector to identify leaks that might otherwise be obscured by insulation.
Upgrade Motor Control
Every centrifugal pump operates most efficiently at a specific flow rate, but traditional, fixed-speed pump motors can’t consistently maintain this optimal rate. Variable-frequency drives (VFDs), on the other hand, adjust the motor speed to provide the ideal flow rate. A pump with a VFD also consumes less power the slower it operates, which reduces overall operating costs.
Install LED Lighting
For a quick efficiency boost, update plant lighting. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) use less energy, last longer, and radiate less heat than fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. And LED lighting is now available for Class I, Division II locations. Energy monitoring indicates that the payback period for installing LEDs is usually under four years, and state rebate programs may help you attain your ROI even faster.
The quest for sustainability is ongoing. To realize yearly savings, you’ll want to implement a formal program to identify new opportunities and build on previous improvements. You can read this full article, Improve Sustainability on a Shoestring, for more detailed suggestions.