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New wireless air cooled heat exchanger monitoring solution from Emerson

Emerson Process Management has unveiled a new wireless Air Cooled Heat Exchanger Monitoring Solution that expands its already robust Essential Asset Monitoring Suite.

Air cooled heat exchanger failures can limit cooling and reduce plant production by as much as 0.2% of capacity. The losses can accrue from “surprise” failures across a broad range of applications such as condensing distillate overhead product, cooling product before transfer to tank storage, and effluent cooling. On hot days where production is already limited by cooling capacity, an unscheduled shutdown on an air cooled heat exchanger could result in sudden overpressure of a distillation column overhead resulting in relief valve lifting and release to flare (a recordable incident).

Emerson’s new Air Cooled Heat Exchanger Monitoring Solution uses a pre-engineered application and networks of wireless or wired instruments. The wireless plug-and-play technology lowers costs so that automated continuous online monitoring can be more easily justified.  Traditionally, most plants perform manual periodic monitoring of these assets. But since these manual measurements are infrequent, rapidly developing issues or process conditions that are causing asset failures are often missed.

The monitoring solution oversees and diagnoses the full range of failure modes to alert personnel of deteriorating health so operators can adjust operation in a controlled manner to match available (reduced) cooling, and corrective maintenance action can be taken. Failures can result from fan vibration, bearing wear, dust, oil and corrosion on tube fins, louver issues, or freezing ambient temperatures. This type of predictive maintenance methodology has been proven to save up to 30% of maintenance expenditures as contrasted with run-to-failure practices.

Automated monitoring also helps operators avoid safety concerns with manual monitoring that result from sending personnel on field rounds, as well as costly environmental incidents when manual monitoring slows operator response causing a relief valve to lift and flaring to occur.

“Air cooled heat exchangers have seldom had their performance automatically monitored,” says Pete Sharpe, director of industry solutions development, Emerson. “Part of the problem is that when plants are built, the EPC installs only those instruments required to operate the plant safely and consistently. Monitoring the air cooled heat exchanger assets was not considered critical, so the measurements are just not there. But Emerson’s easily deployed wireless monitoring technology makes it cost-effective to monitor these exchangers on-line, which is especially useful for cooling-limited processes.”

“And,” continued Sharpe, “for those sites with the possibility of freezing in the tube bundle, your operator can be warned when the fan should be stopped or operated in reverse, preventing tube ruptures, and eliminating the need to replace the bundle, potentially saving up to $1 million per incident.”

The new Air Cooled Heat Exchanger Monitoring release adds to the growing family of Essential Asset Monitoring solutions which include monitoring solutions for pumps, blowers, and heat exchangers, with other asset types under development. Each monitoring solution provides the user with a selectable set of faults that determine which instruments are needed for the monitoring application. The full Essential Asset Monitoring solution from Emerson includes the software and any new devices and services required to implement and set it up. 

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