Installation, commissioning, and maintenance

To achieve optimum performance of your gas analysis system throughout its lifetime of operation, Servomex recommends that it is installed and commissioned by a trained, experienced engineer, and supported by regular maintenance.

However, factors such as workforce reductions, the retirement of highly experienced personnel and the proliferation of complex equipment make it a challenge for site engineers to undertake every installation confidently, proficiently, and with the assurance that specific equipment safety measures or recommendations are applied.

Additionally, the restrictions on travel and requirements for social distancing have illustrated that it can no longer be taken for granted that engineers can attend a site quickly and easily to perform these tasks.

Digitalization methods, such as creating a digital twin of the plant, and using virtual reality (VR) technology, can help overcome these challenges. VR allows site engineers tasked with the installation and commissioning to practice and familiarize themselves with the equipment and procedures, before venturing on to the site.

Suppliers would be best placed to provide equipment-specific elements of immersive VR training, drawing attention to critical safety checks and procedures. This means that the unproductive time and expense spent on travelling for training can be reduced.

When an engineer moves onto real field installation work, augmented reality (AR) headwear can enable continued support. The field-of-view for the site engineer is digitally enhanced, providing access to training, manuals, product bulletins, service records, or even showing digital overlays of live sensor data, health or hazards that may be pertinent to their local vicinity or job – all available at a glance and the point of need.

Using AR, guidance, from a remote supervisor within their organization or an external supplier, can be available throughout the job. The remote supervisor can see what the field engineer sees and offer additional information via digital overlays or annotations on the site engineers screen, supplementing an audio link. Guided installation and commissioning procedures with checklists can highlight or indeed require confirmation of safety issues and critical steps, before showing subsequent steps.

Suppliers would also be well-placed to provide AR support during installation and commissioning. Remotely witnessed installation and commissioning may provide increased confidence for installation safety, reliability, and expected quality of measurement. Remote installation and commissioning would also minimize cost, risks, and delays through reduced need for travel and reduced visits to your site by third parties.

Keeping gas analyzers online and effectively operating is essential to operational excellence, but they do require maintenance. However, carrying out maintenance work exposes site engineers to risk. Maintenance tasks themselves can sometimes negatively impact instrument reliability.

Also, maintenance activities may take longer than manufacturers’ assumptions, reducing the calculated safety margins. Poor awareness of maintenance activities can expose other workers to risk.

A balance is required, optimizing maintenance activities to be sufficient to avoid failure and unplanned offline time, yet as infrequent as possible to limit the other risks and costs.

Condition-based maintenance (CBM) can help in achieving this balance. CBM needs significantly more data from a gas analyzer than is necessary for process control.

Instead of using the NAMUR NE 107 type diagnostic health indicators (fault, maintenance required, out-of-specification, and service in progress) currently provided, the measurements, conditions or life-counters behind those indicators must be exposed.

Additionally, the range of measurements and conditions monitored must be more comprehensive, including sensor conditions, analyzer conditions, and sample systems and other environmental conditions.

Patterns, trends and correlation analysis can then provide greater insight into how things are changing over time and at what moment in the future those changes may impact performance.

This allows better scheduling of maintenance activities, reducing costs and downtime while improving analyzer performance.

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