2010

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  • Game changer: Visibility, enablement and process innovation for a mobile workforce

    A key aspect of the "perfect plant" is having the right information in the right place at the right time. In most manufacturing environments, instrumentation and monitoring is widespread. Pages and pages of graphs and reports describe every operational characteristic and are used by operators and management to steer the plant to optimal performance. However, in the modern plant, the right time to view this information is not when you are standing in front of an operator console. It is when you are in the field, in front of a failing piece of equipment or discussing a problem while on the move. More often than not, the right way to deliver information is by putting it in the hands of a mobile worker.

    The right way to collect information also involves mobility. Remember that 40% to 60% of equipment in the plants and on the shop floors is not instrumented. Optimizing this critical aspect of plant performance depends on mobile field workers. Armed with the right tools, mobile workers can cost-effectively gather data from non-instrumented assets that can be readily analyzed and integrated into existing back-end decision support systems. Bidirectional flow of information to and from mobile workers is a key competitive imperative required to make fully informed decisions regarding the operation of the perfect plant.

    Regrettably for most companies, when it comes to the mobile workforce in manufacturing, too often, vital decisions are made in the dark, in an information-poor environment and with little support or historical contextual information to make informed decisions proactively. Field workers — the people who are closest to the equipment and processes, who feel the heat, hear the noises and see the changes that can be the first indicators of trouble — frequently do their jobs based on individual experiential knowledge acquired over many years.

    This approach makes manufacturers vulnerable to high levels of variability based on individual talent, skills and training. With the massive investments in automation over the past decades, management often lacks visibility into what these decision makers in the field do and finds it hard to provide guidance to ensure execution of best practices occur across the field worker roles, production shifts and assets.

    Charlie Mohrmann
    10/26/2010
  • Sustaining performance

    Bringing a production facility online is the result of a huge investment. It typically takes years of planning, design, construction and finally, you move into operating the plant. Whether your operation has been running for 20 years or is about to start up, you face the ongoing challenge to achieve the highest returns possible on that investment. Once you have the initial bugs worked out and achieve the goals of targeted productivity, efficiency, quality and performance, how do you sustain high performance, or even improve it?

    This goal of this paper is to present a perspective on support services as a tactical approach to not only sustain current Operations performance levels, but to continually improve them — and to be able to measure the ROI of an ongoing support program.

    10/26/2010
  • Virtual reality training program

    One of the key challenges that capital-intensive industries will face over the next five years is replacing the gray-haired workforce with the computer-savvy/gaming generation. High-fidelity operator trainer simulators that represent the production process, control system and the control room interface have proved to be very effective for control room operations training. However, for the remaining 50% of the plant start-up procedures that are executed in the field, no fully interactive training environment has been available — until now.

    Industries like oil and gas, refining and power companies need to institutionalize their workforce knowledge in more efficient and effective ways. Leveraging virtual reality (VR) models to improve time-to-competency in critical areas like safety, environment protection systems, knowledge, performance training and reliability provides a vehicle to rapidly train the new workforce in ways that align with their interests and skills.

    With continuing advances in hardware and software techniques, Virtual reality (VR) is accessible today as the best aid to multimedia training, process design, maintenance, safety etc., which are currently based around conventional two-dimensional (2-D) equipment views.

    The real-time rendering of equipment views puts demands on processor time, and so the use of high fidelity simulators is becoming more and more of a standard in process understanding and training. Within many VR commercial projects in the past, the results have either been unrealistically slow or oversimplified to the detriment of the solution effectiveness. As the technology continues to develop, these issues are being eliminated, giving way to a new process simulation era that is based on commercially standard IT hardware.

    Maurizio Rovaglio, Tobias Scheele and Norbert Jung
    10/26/2010
  • Choosing the right devices for your mobile solution

    A mobile device is one of the most important components of your solution. You can get everything else right, from application design to integration and security, but choosing the wrong device form factor or configuration can put a significant dent in the productivity gains you are hoping to achieve, and set you up for many headaches in the future. This FAQ white paper discusses some considerations that should be driving your device selection and explores ways to mitigate your hardware‐related risks.

    10/06/2010
  • Intelligent motor control centers lay the foundation for improvements in manufacturing efficiency and reliability

    Measures to increase equipment and personnel safety in manufacturing are reflected in new approaches and technologies designed to help minimize the risk of workplace dangers. One rapidly growing area of focus is reducing the potentially serious hazards associated with arc-flash events. This white paper examines the causes of arc flash, discusses the standards guiding arc-flash safety and details the role arc-resistant motor control centers (MCCs) play in helping contain arc energy. It also highlights the key features of an effective arc-resistant MCC design.

    Managing safety hazards and reducing risks are top priorities for manufacturers across all sectors of industry. With a multitude of potential dangers and new ones continuously emerging, companies must be diligent in their ongoing efforts while considering new approaches and technologies to improve plant safety. One rapidly growing area of focus is implementing techniques and practices designed to reduce hazards and minimize risk for workers who must enter an area with an electrical arc-flash potential.

    09/30/2010
  • Improving plant production with wireless condition monitoring

    Mechanical failures of motors, drives and other vital electromechanical equipment are among the most common reasons for production stoppages. Fortunately, recent advancements in vibration monitoring and data analysis have lead to condition monitoring systems that can accurately detect a problem before failure, thus reducing costly machine shutdowns and maximizing production output. These systems are installed on the monitored equipment and are typically networked back to a central computer for data analysis and alarm annunciation. Because the machines may be in remote locations where network infrastructure is not available, or on moving platforms where hardwired network connectivity is not practical, wireless communications are a networking alternative that offer installation cost savings, quicker deployment and improved reliability in certain situations.

    Jim Ralston
    09/27/2010
  • Optimizing your infrastructure for cloud computing

    This white paper examines some of the forces behind rising adoption of cloud-based solutions, explores how cloud architectures impact data centers and discusses a series of concrete practices and technologies that can help companies collect the benefits of cloud computing without compromising uptime or overwhelming their power and cooling systems.

    Chris Loeffler
    09/23/2010
  • Is power protection costing you more than it should?

    Multi-mode UPSs from different manufacturers vary considerably in how they work, the level of protection they can offer, and their true efficiency under real-world load levels. This white paper looks at five questions you need to ask before selecting a high-efficiency, multi-mode UPS for your data center.

    Pedro Robredo
    09/23/2010
  • Common causes, implications and resolutions for problematic harmonic distortion in your electrical system

    Harmonic currents generated by non-linear electronic loads increase power system heat losses and power bills for end users. These harmonic-related losses reduce system efficiency, cause apparatus overheating, and increase power and air conditioning costs. As the number of harmonics-producing loads has increased over the years, it has become increasingly necessary to address their influence when making any additions or changes to an installation.

    Harmonic currents can have a significant impact on electrical distribution systems and the facilities they feed. It is important to consider their impact when planning additions or changes to a system. In addition, identifying the size and location of non-linear loads should be an important part of any maintenance, troubleshooting and repair program.

    09/23/2010
  • Is an energy-wasting data center draining your bottom line?

    An unforgiving economic climate has left many organizations struggling to sustain (or restore) profitability. Many of them reacted to the downturn by restructuring, trimming back R&D and marketing, and laying off employees. All of these moves leave a company in a vulnerable position when the market rebounds, which it inevitably will.

    Meanwhile, huge potential savings are sitting, untapped, right in the company's data center. Data center energy costs as a percent of total revenue are at an all-time high. In fact, energy costs are emerging as the second highest operating cost in the IT organization, behind labor. A typical onemegawatt data center consumes 16 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year — roughly equivalent to the energy consumed by 1400 average U.S. households.

    The IT and electrical industries have responded with new energy-saving technologies and approaches that could have a notable, positive impact on a company's profitability. This white paper looks at two key ways that data center managers can improve end-to-end energy efficiency: by changing the voltage of power distribution and by taking advantage of new, high-efficiency, multi-mode uninterruptible power systems (UPSs).

    This analysis shows that 400V AC power distribution offers a high degree of energy efficiency for modern data centers, significantly reducing capital and operational expenditures and total cost of ownership, compared to 600V AC and traditional 480V AC power systems. Recent developments in UPS technology — including the introduction of transformer-less UPSs with new energy management features — further enhance a 400V AC power distribution system to maximize energy efficiency.

    09/23/2010
  • Who tripped the circuit? The clear-cut case for branch circuit monitoring in data centers

    The power demands of data centers are exponentially larger and more variable than ever before, creating a real management challenge. How can you utilize the power distribution system to fullest potential, without compromising reliability?

    Organizations have invested millions in uninterruptible power systems (UPSs), battery backup, generators and system-wide monitoring to protect their electrical systems. Yet there might still be a proverbial weakest link at the local level: the branch circuit that serves critical equipment. Even the largest and most sophisticated enterprises are suffering unplanned downtime due to a most rudimentary failure: tripped circuit breakers.

    The risk is increasing, thanks to blade servers, high-density architectures, variable power consumption patterns and other factors. The good news is that there is a simple, low-cost and surprisingly straightforward solution. New or existing electrical infrastructures can easily be equipped for 7x24 monitoring at the branch circuit level, to ensure reliable, continuous power for essential business systems.

    09/23/2010
  • 10 ways to increase power system availability in data centers

    Once, IT was just another important business resource. Today, IT is the business for many companies. Without it, most organizations would be incapable of serving customers, collaborating with partners, developing new products or performing other basic business functions.

    As a result, data center availability has become an essential precondition to competitiveness and profitability. Yet despite their best efforts to achieve "five nines" availability, businesses remain vulnerable to a variety of threats. Chief among them are issues affecting electrical power systems. Data centers rely on a continuous supply of clean electricity. However, anything from a subtle power system design flaw to a failure in the electrical grid can easily bring down even the most modern and sophisticated data center.

    Fortunately, organizations can significantly mitigate their exposure to power-related downtime by adopting proven changes to their business processes and electrical power system management practices. This white paper discusses 10 such underutilized best practices for building and maintaining a highly available data center power infrastructure.

    Dr. Kenneth Uhlman, P.E.
    09/23/2010
  • Electrical equipment floor space: Selected NEC Code requirements and new options for the electrical system designer

    Adequate space is a concern for electrical installations for several reasons including worker safety, working room and adequate clearances for personnel working on energized equipment to escape should a problem occur.

    The National Electrical Code (NEC) addresses the minimum requirements to meet these needs.

    On the other hand, building owners are looking for ways to minimize the size of electrical equipment in order to accommodate more building space for productive uses, thus minimizing costs. In addition, the smaller the equipment, the easier it is to move it into the required location. Factory installation and connection of components can lead to smaller overall lineups, typically resulting in reduced installation costs.

    This paper will review some of the NEC requirements regarding required electrical space. It will discuss new product concepts serving to reduce equipment size, resulting in reduced space requirements, reduced installation time, and reduced installation costs.

    09/23/2010
  • 10 ways to protect your IT infrastructure

    In this age of critical computing systems and the Internet, business continuity requires that you protect your IT infrastructure from all the hidden threats of the typical facility environment. Every business, no matter how small or large is at risk.

    09/23/2010
  • Parallel UPS configurations

    Increasingly, organizations are finding that the risk of running off straight utility power — even briefly — is too great to ignore. So they deploy multiple UPS modules to ensure conditioned power even if one UPS fails.

    In paralleling, two or more UPSs are electrically and mechanically connected to form a unified system with one output — either for extra capacity or redundancy. In an N+1 redundant configuration, there is at least one more UPS module than needed to support the load. As a conjoined system, each UPS stands ready to take over the load from another UPS whenever necessary, without disrupting protected loads.

    Today's firmware-based paralleling offers particular advantages, compared to traditional paralleling approaches. For one, there is no system-level single point-of-failure. With a peer-topeer control strategy, each UPS module operates independently and is not reliant on an external master controller or a complex web of inter-module control wiring

    Ed Spears
    09/23/2010
  • How to reduce compressed air consumption in drying and blow-off applications

    You probably don't spend much time thinking about all the applications in your plant that require compressed air. But compressed air is a costly utility that can easily account for 1/3 of a plant's total electricity usage.

    Yet, compressed air is often viewed as a fixed cost and overlooked when process improvements are considered. If that's the case in your plant, it may be time to revisit that approach. You may be able to save tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by significantly reducing compressed air consumption in your drying and blow-off operations.

    In addition to dramatically reducing air consumption, other positive effects can result from making some changes:

    • Reduced noise
    • Improved worker safety
    • More precise, repeatable drying and blow-off

    So, what types of changes should you consider? If you're using open pipes, pipes with drilled holes or pipes with slits are for drying and blow-off, you should definitely consider air nozzles or air knife packages. While open pipe systems are fast, easy and inexpensive to manufacture, the drawbacks of using open pipes are many:

    • Very high air and electrical consumption.
    • High noise — compliance with OSHA noise level requirements can be a problem.
    • Worker safety can be compromised. High noise can result in hearing loss and injury can result if a worker accidentally blocks the opening in the pipe.

    In this white paper, you'll find information on various options including guidelines for usage, cost savings and other benefits.

    Jon Barber
    09/10/2010
  • Devising an effective and affordable dust control strategy using water sprays

    Dealing with dust is no longer optional in most regions of the world, but when it comes to dust control systems, options abound. Making the best choice for your operations can get complicated since there are dozens of factors to consider. The more you know about dust and the various techniques to control it, the greater your chances are of specifying a system that will get the job done at the lowest possible cost. In this white paper, we'll delve into dust and review how to go about devising a strategy for dealing with it.

    Robert Franta
    09/10/2010
  • Change the way you spray to minimize clogging

    Spray nozzles appear to be simple devices, but in service they function as highly precise instruments. A spray system that is not working optimally can very quickly cost your operation tens — even hundreds — of thousands of dollars annually. When nozzles become partially blocked, spraying efficiency is degraded and your process can be compromised.

    The most frequent cause of clogging is the presence of contaminants in process water — a condition that is particularly common in systems that use recirculated water. Other factors that may cause clogging are particle agglomeration, scaling and bearding — the build-up of material on the inside and outer edges of the orifice. The negative effects of clogging on spray performance include decreased flow and disturbed spray patterns. When positive displacement pumps are in use, clogged spray nozzles will increase process pressure, whereas flow will be most acutely affected when centrifugal pumps are used.

    Jon Barber
    09/10/2010
  • How to preempt a significant profit drain: Nozzle wear

    Maybe you're thinking to yourself that the waste and inefficiency caused by using worn spray nozzles just can't be all that significant. If so, it's time to change your thinking and determine if nozzle wear is a problem in your operations. Like many other processors, you may discover that you are wasting millions of gallons of water, thousands of gallons of chemicals and incurring many other unnecessary costs due to using worn nozzles.

    Once you appreciate the magnitude of the issue, you should be motivated to take immediate corrective action. In this white paper, you'll find information that will help you understand the causes of nozzle wear and what you can do about it.

    Jon Barber
    09/10/2010
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