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Petrochemical Company Launches Refinery of the Future With IoT

Texmark Chemicals is using technology from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Aruba to automatically collect real-time data regarding the function of critical pumps on the plant floor, with long-term goals of managing assets, as well as employee safety and access, via video and other wireless technologies.
By Claire Swedberg

The group was impressed with a demonstration of a sensor-based system for a Flow Serve pump, Salinas says. A sensor was attached to a pump to monitor pressure, temperature and vibration, and the collected data was then displayed in the software in real time. It tracked not only the amount and temperature of fluid passing through the pump, she notes, but also the vibration of the pump itself, in order to determine its operational health.

The employees brainstormed throughout the 45-minute drive back to their plant, Salinas recalls. Without the technology, she says, "If we wanted to measure the vibration of a pump, it would be a spot check" conducted on a month-to-month basis. However, the Texmark sensor "measured in real time, all the time," which could indicate if equipment might be approaching a failure, as soon as the vibrations changed.

The software's computer-modeling function would enable the prediction of how soon a particular pump might fail, Salinas explains, based on the specific chemical being used, as well as the temperature and vibration levels, all compared against historic results with other pumps. "After that field trip," she states, "people were very inspired." According to Salinas, employees—ranging from those actually operating the equipment to those operating the plant from behind desks—began innovating with new ideas for the technology.

For the first phase, the company installed six Aruba access points around the 7.5-acre facility, so as to provide Wi-Fi coverage throughout. It then installed HPE's EL400 Edgeline computers to manage the collected sensor data, and also created a 3D scan of the entire plant so that assets could be located on that virtual map of the facility.

The Aruba access points will use the ClearPass to authenticate the sensors before collecting and transmitting their data securely to the Edgeline server. Additionally, the system employs HPE Edgeline Converged IoT platform software, which takes the sensor data and couples it with data culled from any other sources. HPE Pointnext Services installed an HPE Micro Datacenter in the Texmark Plant Control Room that, in turn, hosts the EdgeLine converged platform and will host new DCS system.

This year, Texmark has installed sensors on its two most crucial pieces of equipment: one on a DCPD process vacuum pump and the other on a boiler feed water pump, each of which could cause critical problems if it failed. The sensors capture temperature, pressure and vibration data at preset intervals, then forward that information to the EL 4000. Managers can view that data in real time, or receive alerts in the event that conditions exceed established parameters. Operators can also access that data, as can maintenance staff or inspectors.

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