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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 installation is only the first step of the Refinery of the Future plans, Salinas says. Next, the plant intends to apply sensors to all of the pumps associated with the entire DCPD process. Ultimately the company might deploy sensors for all 130 of its pumps, as well as to other equipment, such as fans, mixers and reactors. The data culled can be used not only to prevent or predict a failure, but also to understand the efficiency and quality of each of its processes under production, based on the time, the chemicals fed into the system, and the conditions under which they are mixed and processed.

Texmark wants to share the knowledge it is gaining, Smith says. "This is less about new technology," he states, "and more about a road map. We already know the technology works." Now, he says, the firm hopes to create a manual for deploying such a system that it could then provide to other refineries or factories.

"We are one of the first to implement IoT in the operating plant," Salinas says. The firm now intends to gauge the results of the two sensors throughout the next few months, and to then begin further installations.

The company has other strategies for its Refinery of the Future initiative as well, Salinas adds. The company plans to install video analytics to track camera-based information for purposes ranging from providing security to improving production on the plant floor, as well as a safe-worker system with hardhat sensors, such as those provided by technology company GuardHat.

In addition, the company intends to create a "connected worker" platform by which a worker could be automatically identified at any location; the software could then analyze that location, linked to his or her role, in order to provide the employee with relevant information on an app-based handheld device or integrated hard hat. For instance, a maintenance worker could view details regarding a specific piece of equipment at the spot where he or she is standing. Finally, a total asset-management platform in the software could manage the data from all four features within the system, and thereby provide real-time, historic and relevant information.

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