Following my last blog, where I talked about the challenges that wrong size and weight of actuators can bring to a project, I thought I now dive into an actual case study where a considerable number actuators are applied at a natural gas receiving terminal in Lubmin, Germany, close to the Baltic sea.
Opened in 2011, the plant in Lubmin is the largest of its kind in Europe, costing over 150 million Euro and has more than 400 employees from over 40 companies employed at peak times. The gas comes from Russia and travels through pipelines for about 1200 km until it arrives on the German shores. In the article, the authors Mr Hartmann from Gascade and Mr Joachim Toffolo from Drehmo, point out what the challenges for this project were. The automation engineers had to combine approximately 750 sensors, more than 2,400 valves, and 360 electrical drives into Europe’s largest metering station.
When the decisions for the more than 200 actuators had to be made, Gascade relied on their experiences with Drehmo, who had supplied electric actuators in the mid-1990s for a different project. Gascade opted for intelligent digital microcontroller technology equipped actuators in order to make the engineers’ lives onsite easier and the work flow more effective given the hazardous areas of application. The new actuators all carry a Profibus connection which brings a number of advantages for with it, as the new system intelligent maintenance during the operational phase and it makes the project planning more flexible and easier because the of diagnostic data between the actuator and he control station helps to prevent failures through predictive maintenance, as the authors explain.
Now as most of you know, predictive maintenance is a key word within the flow control industry. How can I maintain my valves and actuators in the easiest and most effective way? Taking a whole plant offline can costs millions of EUR, so onsite engineers as well as the suppliers to the process try to come up with various systems which enable the plant operators to monitor what is going on inside the valve/actuator. This data then helps to better schedule maintenance programs as well as it helps to identify leaks or broken valves/actuators. By identifying these, certain maintenance and repair work can then be done even when the plant is running or even if the plant still has to go offline, then the work can at least be much better focused on the products in question, which in the end results in shorter downtime.
And since the topic of predictive maintenance is so important I would like to ask you to send me some of your stories about it. What are your experiences as users or suppliers? What kind of challenges do you face? How does monitoring help in your process? Send me an email at email@example.com and perhaps we can use your examples and experiences in form of a discussion on LinkedIn or an article in the magazine.