Cyber Security for Instruments, Electro-mechanical switches, Manufacturing, Plant Safety

Eroded pipeline, Deadly toxic gas and time running out. An application story.

Industry: Midstream
Products: Vanguard Hydrogen Sulfide Detector
Application: Temporary worksite monitoring of pipeline maintenance
Company: The upstream business of a major oil & gas producer

Customer:
The customer is a major oil & gas producer with upstream business all over the world. They engage in intense exploration campaigns with a 38% success rate. This exploration and production activity is their main growth driver and they have become a world leader in exploration, with 40 finds since 2008, leading to a net increase of production. They use pipelines to move product from the wellhead to processing facilities.

Challenge:
A rare event happened which caused the soil around a transport pipeline to erode, exposing a section of the pipeline. This created several challenges not only to the transport of product, but extending to environmental and societal factors. This is because the pipeline was transporting product containing Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S), a deadly toxic gas. The customer immediately took action to fix the issue, but in the meantime, needed to monitor around the exposed section of pipe for leaks of H2S. This was not only to protect the workers, but the nearby residents who were alarmed by the exposed pipe carrying potentially hazardous materials. As a temporary worksite in a remote location, running conduit to fixed monitors at the site would have extended the timeline to getting the situation fixed and burying the pipeline to a safe depth. By the time the detectors were installed, the problem could have been fixed.

Canada_Upstream

Solution:
After learning about the Vanguard WirelessHART gas detector with true wireless operation through white papers, the area’s Maintenance Measurement/Automation Coordinator immediately saw the potential to solve their problem. Given the ability to immensely shorten the time from receipt to operation of the detectors, the project to fix the exposed pipeline and ease the concerns of the nearby residents was able to move forward, and get the producer back to safe operation quickly.

Results:
The Vanguard units in action were working “quite well” performing all necessary operation and living up to the solution potential. Success rarely stays a secret and soon the potential of this unique, new solution quickly spread within the company. This led to another order for additional Vanguard detectors through the Senior Tradesman in their Maintenance Department for a separate installation.

Written by: Andrew Liptak- Gas Detection Product Manger at United Electric Controls

Email: aliptak@ueonline.com

andrew liptak

twitter logo  @NewOilGasSafety 

 

 

 

 

Manufacturing, Plant Safety, Safety Relays on Transmitters, Tradeshows, Transmitters

Safety: An ounce of prevention is worth……a life!

As Junes comes to a close we are reminded that it is National Safety Month . As we get bombarded with daily reminders to wear sunscreen by the pool and cheesy posters with cheesier sayings, keep in mind the meaning behind them is vitally important. As an active participant on our company’s safety committee, it can be easy to turn a safety project into a long term, high investment project that will be as safe as possible. But it can often come at the expense of a simpler solution that can start making your front line worker safer NOW rather than tomorrow.

national safety month

As safety professionals, advisors, or just leaders of people, we are responsible for those that are exposed to hazards on the front lines doing the work. It is our responsibility to make sure that we find sensing solutions that not only protect, but can be implemented quickly and easily to ensure protection now.

But here lies the dichotomy; whatever the sensing solution is, it can’t be cheap and create the chance to supply false security.

These issues create contradictions. We need inexpensive but not cheap, sophisticated but not complicated, fast and easy to install but not to cause any adverse effect in the production environment. We attempt to optimize current solutions by multiple factors and the result is typically a well-balanced, mediocre, piece of junk. When real safety problems occur, we need step changes in technology that take away the balancing act of specs and open up new ways to keep people safe.

Enter wireless communication. We have been proving in use with our dependence on cellular phones for over a decade with increasing reliability. We are replacing wired home phone lines with cellphones, airplane boarding passes with e-tickets on our cellphones, and even doing our banking over our cellphones. Industrial wireless communications are more robust and reliable than they have ever been and are ready for the mainstream of industrial market sensing applications.

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The cost savings of wireless are readily apparent: less wiring, less money. What is sometimes lost is the ease and speed of installation. This is where wireless can offer a step change in safety. Need additional points to monitor, no problem. Need to move a point to a more ideal location, no problem. It is now easier and faster than ever to get monitoring installed that will start to protect your people now.

As a vendor, allowing the limitations of old technology and “it’s always been done this way” to become excuses against creating better ways to bring value to the customers will be detrimental as new technology and services emerge. It’s on us to not only adapt new technology but to embrace it as the path forward. Further we must be instrumental in creating the data to prove performance and reliability.

So as we wrap up  June and make jokes about the cliché posters, remember to look to find innovative solutions that will help to you protect your people now. Accidents won’t wait for you, so why wait on implementing safety? Start searching for solutions that will help you keep your people safer NOW.

If it happens to involve industrial wireless, feel free to explore ueonline.com to learn more.

Written by: Andrew Liptak- Gas Detection Product Manger at United Electric Controls

Email: aliptak@ueonline.com

andrew liptak

Electro-mechanical switches, Manufacturing, Plant Safety, Safety Relays on Transmitters, Transmitters

The One Series Safety Transmitter for Increased Plant Safety

united electric safety transmitter

The power generation market is beginning to emphasize the importance of plant safety. This was made clear to all attendees during the keynote session at the Power-Gen International Show in Orlando held in early December. Ms. Kimberly S. Greene, executive VP and COO of Atlanta-based power generation Southern Company made a passionate plea for better safety standards within plants that fall under the Southern Company umbrella, and to begin thinking about plant safety and investing in safety automation technology to provide some solutions. According to Ms. Greene, Southern Company facilities sent 300 workers home with workplace injuries in 2014.

In one case this year, a 44-year employee died on the job, causing Ms. Greene to make an emotional plea to all attendees and plant managers to move safety to the top of their priority lists. For the power generation market, plant safety has not (yet) received the same level of attention when compared to the hydrocarbon processing market. Ms. Greene’s statistics reminded us all that functional safety must be considered across many industries that include harsh and hazardous operating conditions and processes.

The One Series Safety Transmitter is a pressure and temperature monitoring transmitter-switch that provides a NAMUR NE 43 standard 4-20 mA analog output. Its programmable high-capacity solid-state safety relay output enables the fastest emergency shutdowns in the industry.

The One Series Safety Transmitter was designed with features that simplify installation, improve productivity, and eliminate nuisance trips. The instrument is password protected to prevent unwanted parameter changes; eliminating the risk of tampering. The large backlit digital display provides process variable, status, self-diagnostics and field programming information.

Some of the advantages of using UE’s safety transmitter are:

  • ​4-20 mA analog output with field scaling capability
  • ​100% programmable high-capacity safety relay for switch mode, set point & deadband
  • ​Effectively replaces a gauge, transmitter, and a switch to reduce potential leak paths
  • ​Additional discrete outputs to facilitate voting logic schemes
  • ​The industries highest safe failure fraction (SFF) of 98.8% as certified for use in SIL 2 by exida

For more information on UE’s One Series Safety Transmitter, please visit our website at www.ueonlone.com or call our application engineers at +1 (617) 923-6977. You can also write us at TechSupport @ueonline.com.

Manufacturing, Plant Safety, Safety Relays on Transmitters, Transmitters

Diagnostics that Reach Beyond their Normal Boundaries

As a company known for our pressure and temperature switches, transmitters and sensors for safety, alarm and shutdown applications; we’re constantly evaluating our customers’ needs. Our range of product offerings, including the One Series Safety Transmitters, are engineered to meet and exceed industry standards.

It all started with our One Series electronic switch product line, originally introduced in the late 1990s. During focus group interviews with our customers, it was determined that these products must include self-diagnostic capability, helping to avoid the “blind switch issue” inherent in mechanical switches (which we also manufacture). In a blind switch intended for safety, customers were concerned about reliability. “How do I know if will work when I need it to?”

The blind switch issue was a major consideration when designing our One Series Safety Transmitter because when a product is “blind,” it has no self-diagnostic capability, requiring preventative maintenance to determine if it is still functional Additionally, the reduction in the number of maintenance workers leaves fewer instrument and control technicians to perform this vital maintenance, a concern for plant managers. Plant upgrade strategies now specify self-diagnostic (smart) instrumentation, such as our One Series Safety Transmitter.One Series Safety Transmitter Display

 

At United Electric Controls, we go beyond the traditional boundaries of self-diagnostic instrumentation. For example, typical smart instruments can determine if there are errors in the software, if the sensor cable is disconnected and if there is a functioning keypad to set parameters. The One Series IAWTM self-diagnostics take this concept much further and evaluate the sensor to see if it is open, shorted and still capable of sensing temperature and pressure, is there a button stuck on the keypad and the validity of the signal that is telling the switch to open. This is all important so there is reasonable assurance that the product is functioning correctly and safely.

The One Series IAWTM self-diagnostic feature also considers external influences on the operation of the product, evaluating the power that the instrument is being given, loop power or DC power supply. The One Series monitors the power supply to make sure the power is clean, and there are no spikes, drooping, or noise from radio frequencies, etc. This is all done to make sure the power source is reliable.

The One Series can also detect if the sensor is clogged and unable to read pressure. The One Series has an advanced feature called Plug Port Detection to determine if the sensor is clogged and then can report the condition as detailed below. Another external diagnostic feature involves the ability to monitor the Safety Relay Output from an external perspective. For example, if the instruction to open the SRO is given by the microcontroller, IAWTM can determine if the SRO actually opened. Line fault detection is also included to detect open and shorted wiring connections to the final element (load).When IAWTM detects a fault, three actions are taken:

  1. The process variable and IAW indicator is replaced by a message on the display, informing the I&C technician of the fault type.
  2. The NAMUR NE 43 standard 4-20 mA output will change from indicating the process variable to the fault indicating current of 3.6 mA, providing remote indication to the control system that a fault has occurred.
  3. The Safety Relay Output (SRO), SRO Status and IAW outputs will fail safe (open) within 100 milliseconds of the detected fault, initiating an emergency shutdown.

Consider the One Series family of pressure and temperature monitors for your safety, alarm and shutdown applications. Click here for more details.

Manufacturing

A Look at American Manufacturing and Our Employee Involvement Program

As a leading manufacturer of durable and reliable pressure and temperature transmitters, switches, controls, and sensors, we try to keep up with the latest manufacturing news and trends. American manufacturing is a fascinating area that is responsible for products and services that you use and rely on each and every day. Moreover, manufacturers contributed approximately $2.08 trillion to the economy in 2013, representing 12.5 percent of our country’s gross domestic product.

When looking at our country’s employment, it’s important to explore manufacturing related fields. An estimated 17.4 million Americans are in jobs related to manufacturing and over 12 million hold jobs directly in manufacturing. Additionally, the typical manufacturing employee earned approximately $77,506 in 2013, while the average industry worker earned $62,546.

The economic impacts of manufacturing are innumerable and stand to grow as the field becomes even more lively and diverse. A number of different manufacturing activities are responsible for the recent growth, most notably the reshoring initiative that has brought manufacturing back to the US from overseas facilities; but it is the adoption of lean manufacturing principals that should be explored. Lean manufacturing is loosely based on automobile manufacturer Toyota’s production processes and Henry Ford’s “continuous flow” assembly line system for his company’s Model T automobile. Ford’s manufacturing process centered on the idea that every stage of the assembly line was continuous and produced little waste.

Today, manufacturers utilize both Toyota’s and Ford’s original concept with alterations that work for their business model. For example, anything that is not value added as perceived by the customer is considered waste. Overproduction, waiting, inventory, transportation, over-processing, motion, defects, and an underutilized workforce are all factors that must be taken into consideration during the manufacturing process to minimize waste.

At United Electric Controls, we’re always focused on offering the best manufactured products to our customers across a variety of industries, through a strong value proposition rooted in lean manufacturing principals – that is by eliminating waste and through continual improvement, we will make sure that our products and services meet or exceed our customer’s expectations.   A key component of this is our belief that our employees are at the center of our company and because of this, we rely strongly on their involvement in generating and sharing improvement ideas with management. This valued idea program allows employees to submit ideas for companywide improvements such as internal and external communications, productivity, cost, and savings plans. Any employee can submit an idea and if approved, the employee can bring together the necessary resources to institute the plan – a true win-win for our customer and UE.

Manufacturing, Plant Safety, Transmitters

Safety in the Oil and Gas Industry

There are currently hundreds of thousands of workers employed in the oil and gas industry performing a variety of different industrial processes to drill, extract, and service wells. According to the United States Department of Labor, a successful drilling operation requires specialized equipment and a trained and knowledgeable staff. Those employed in the oil and gas industry are subject to chemical exposure, explosions, fires, and other accidents that could negatively impact their lives. To make sure employees are properly protected, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration created a set of standards that must be met by employers.

As a company, we are always interested in new products, services, and regulations that will better protect those involved in the oil and gas industry. We offer a number of different products that are appropriate for use in conventional and unconventional oil and gas play, whether onshore or offshore. Our products can be used in upstream, midstream, and downstream operations.

One of our newest products is the One Series Safety Transmitter. It gives plant safety teams a simple and efficient way to manage performance and is the first SIL 2-certified transmitter designed specifically for safety system applications. For SIS applications and use in hazardous industries such as oil and gas, chemical, One Series Safety Transmitterand petrochemical, the transmitter provides a standard 4-20 mA output and high-level safety switching capability.

 

We also offer pressure and temperature switches and transmitters that are specifically designed to protect oil and gas assets in challenging upstream applications and complicated environments. For example, our 12 Series pressure switches and TX200 Series pressure transmitters are used within offshore safety shutdown panels to shut-in valves and monitor pressures associated with Surface Safety Valves (SSV), Sub-Surface Safety Valves (SSSV), Emergency Shutdown (ESD), and Fire Shut Down (FSD) functions.

According to a report from the International Energy Agency, world energy demand will grow at a rate of 1.2 percent a year for the next quarter century, with half of that growth coming from coal, gas, and oil. This substantial demand for fossil fuels requires newer and efficient technologies to meet consumers’ needs. Our products play an important role in meeting our country’s energy requirements by allowing maximum throughput of product while maintaining safe operational parameters.

Check out our full list of oil and gas safety products
designed to limit your company’s risks.

Cyber Security for Instruments, Manufacturing, Plant Safety, Transmitters

The One Series UUC Feature: Keeping your Safety Secure

Most great ideas or inventions don’t reach perfection overnight; Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, and everything from the light bulb to the iPhone has seen improvements and innovations.

Oftentimes, improvements are made through trial and error—other times they come from customer feedback and changing needs. At United Electric Controls, we strive to make the best products of their kind, and often changes and improvements come from those who use them every day: our customers.One Series Safety Transmitter

This was the case for our One Series Safety Transmitter, a unique, groundbreaking product that goes beyond all other safety sensors, solving many of the problems related to the design, operation, maintenance, and modernization of a Safety Instrumented System (SIS).

The One Series Safety Transmitter was carefully designed to meet the requirements outlined in IEC 61508 and simplify SIS design. When first introduced, previous versions of the One Series didn’t include a passcode feature. While it was extremely easy to program and use, the One Series relied on a 2-minute timeout to safeguard critical settings. Many of our customers found the need for additional security in the form of a passcode. When we asked our customers how they managed their passcodes for safekeeping and quick access, a common practice they described was to record the number on the wall next to the instrument, negating the purpose. There certainly must be a better way…

We listened to our customers’ needs and answered accordingly, creating a feature that allows users to get into programming mode after inputting a four-digit passcode. We also designed the One Series Safety Transmitter so that if a user doesn’t know how to save the settings, there is a two minute timeout. Close, but not there yet.

We then found that issues would arise if users lost or forgot their passcode. Thus, the Unique Unlock Code (UUC) feature was created. With the UUC, customers visit a website, which asks specific questions. They must enter their unique Kanban number—similar to a serial number—and the UUC feature performs a mathematical operation delivering a unique four-digit code, which will only unlock their particular instrument; the UUC will always and only work on that one unit. As long as the device is in a secure area, this technology ensures their transmitter is as secure as it is safe.

After all, you can’t have safety without security, and with all of the features of the One Series Safety Transmitter, you have both.