Friday, April 28, 2017

Trace Moisture Analyzer

Trace moisture analyzer instruments
Portable and fixed installation trace moisture analyzers
Courtesy Teledyne Analytical Instruments
Moisture, the presence of water molecules, can impact certain products and processes in undesirable ways. Trace moisture analysis of clean gases can be accomplished using aluminum oxide sensors, one of several technologies available.

Instruments are available for continuous monitoring of moisture levels, or spot checking. Aluminum oxide moisture sensors rely on the change in capacitance within the sensor, which varies with the moisture content.

A concern with aluminum oxide sensor technology is drift associated with temperature and aging. A great degree of this has been alleviated through changes in sensor structure. The technology and instrumentation is easily applied and requires little in the way of maintenance other then periodic calibration.

More detail and explanation of the technology and instruments can be found in the brochure included below. Share your process analytical measurement challenges with experienced product specialists, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their up to date product expertise to develop effective solutions.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Myths About Process Switches

general purpose switch for temperature pressure differential pressure
Example of a general purpose switch for industrial use
Courtesy United Electric Controls
We may have developed an obsession with data and information. Understatement, right? Whether a process variable is high or low no longer is satisfactory. We want to know how high, how low, how long, how fast is it changing, and more. In many cases, this is useful information that can be applied toward goals of safety and efficiency. Let us not, however, overlook the possibility that some facets of an operation are best served by that old soldier, the process switch.

Process switches are readily available for temperature, pressure, and differential pressure in ranges to suit almost any application. They are rugged time and field proven devices designed to do one thing extremely well. Process switches will reliably and instantly change the state of their mechanical switch when the process value reaches their setpoint. Once properly installed and set, process switches require little, if any, maintenance and can provide extended periods of reliable service.

United Electric Controls, globally recognized leader in the manufacture of process switches for temperature, pressure, and differential pressure, authored an informative piece that debunks some myths about process switches. The piece is included below and makes interesting reading.

Establishing the best instrumentation and control layout for a process benefits from careful consideration of many factors. Share your requirements and challenges with process measurement and control specialists, combining you own process knowledge and experience with their current product application expertise to develop effective solutions.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Standalone Industrial Process Controllers

process controller digital PID with outputs
Standalone process controller with
integrated input processing, display,
and outputs.
Courtesy Yokogawa
The regulation of temperature is a common operation throughout many facets of modern life. Environmental control in commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings, even residential spaces, uses the regulation of temperature as the primary measure of successful operation. There are also countless applications for the control of temperature found throughout manufacturing, processing, and research. Everywhere that temperature needs to be regulated, a device or method is needed that will control the delivery of a heating or cooling means.

For industrial process applications, the temperature control function is found in two basic forms. It can reside as an operational feature within a programmable logic controller or other centralized process control device or system. Another form is a standalone process temperature controller, with self-contained input, output, processing, and user interface. A temperature switch could be considered as a rudimentary, yet very effective standalone temperature controller. Depending upon the needs of the application, one may have an advantage over the other. The evolution of both forms, integrated and standalone, has resulted in each offering consistently greater levels of functionality.

There are two basic means of temperature control, regardless of the actual device used. Open loop control delivers a predetermined amount of output action without regard to the process condition. Its simplicity makes open loop control economical. Best applications for this type of control action are processes that are well understood and that can tolerate a potentially wide variation in temperature. A change in the process condition will not be detected, or responded to, by open loop control. The second temperature control method, and the one most employed for industrial process control, is closed loop.

Closed loop control relies on an input that represents the process condition, an algorithm or internal mechanical means to produce an output action related to the process condition, and some type of output device that delivers the output action. Closed loop controllers require less process knowledge on the part of the operator than open loop to regulate temperature. The controllers rely on the internal processing and comparison of input (process temperature) to a setpoint value. The difference between the two is the deviation or error. Generally, a greater error will produce a greater change in the output of the controller, delivering more heating or cooling to the process and driving the process temperature toward the setpoint.

The current product offering for standalone closed loop temperature controllers ranges from very simple on/off regulators to highly developed products with multiple inputs and outputs, as well as many auxiliary functions and communications. The range of product features almost assures a unit is available for every application. Evaluating the staggering range of products available and producing a good match between process requirements and product capabilities can be facilitated by reaching out to a process control products specialist. Combine your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solution options.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Diaphragm Seals For Protection of Process and Pressure Instruments

diaphragm seal for industrial process pressure sensor or gauge
One of many diaphragm seal variants
Courtesy Wika
Pressure measurement is a common element industrial operations or control systems. Fluid processing can often involve media that is potentially harmful to pressure sensing devices. The media may be corrosive to the sensor material, or other media properties may impact the performance or usable life of the instrument. In process control environments, diaphragm seals play a role in protecting items like pressure sensors from damage by process fluids. The diaphragm seal is a flexible membrane that seals across the connecting path to a sensor and isolates the sensor from the process media. System pressure crosses the barrier without inhibition, enabling accurate measurement, but the process fluid does not. Typical materials composing diaphragm seals are elastomers, with a wide variety of specific materials available to accommodate almost every application.

In the operating principle of the diaphragm seal, the sealed chamber created between the diaphragm and the instrument is filled with an appropriate fluid, allowing for the transfer of pressure from the process media to the protected sensor. The seals are attached to the process by threaded, open flange, sanitary, or other connections.  Diaphragm seals are sometimes referred to as chemical seals or gauge guards. Stainless steel, Hastelloy, Monel, Inconel, and titanium are used in high pressure environments, and some materials are known to work better when paired with certain chemicals.

Sanitary processes, such as food, beverage, and pharmaceuticals, use diaphragm seals to prevent the accumulation of process fluid in pressure ports, a possible source of contamination. If such a buildup were to occur, such as milk invading and lodging in a port on a pressure gauge, the resulting contamination compromises the quality and purity of successive batches. Extremely pure process fluids, like ultra-pure water, could be contaminated by the metal surface of a process sensor. Some pneumatic systems rely on the elimination of even the smallest pressure fluctuations, and diaphragm seals prevent those by ensuring the separation of the process materials from the sensors.

Diaphragm seals are not without some application concerns, and devices are now built to address and counter many potential issues related to the use of diaphragm seals with process monitoring instruments and equipment. Products seek to eliminate any and all dead space, allow for continuous process flow, and are self-cleaning thanks to continuous flow design. Some high pressure seals come equipped with anti-clogging features, accomplished by the elimination of internal cavities while protecting gauges. Multi-purpose seals reduce temperature influence and improve instrument performance while pinpointing and diffusing areas of high stress. These pre-emptive measures result in longer instrument life-cycles and improved performance while ensuring protection from corrosion.

There are numerous options and available diaphragm seal variants. Share your application specifics with a product specialist, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.