Process availability can pay big dividends

Does a making an investment in process improvement to increase system integrity during an era of reduced operating and capital budgets make sense?


Does a making an investment in process improvement to increase system integrity during an era of reduced operating and capital budgets make sense? Yes, economic downturns are an ideal time to reduce expenses, including capital and operating expenses.

Courtesy: Pepperl+FuchsInvestments in process availability are an asset that will continue to provide savings to your facility over the lifecycle of the plant. In process plants all over the world are striving now more than ever to reduce operational expenditures while increasing productivity and efficiency. Process engineers place a tremendous amount of emphasis on system integrity requirements. Why? Because it’s a variable that can be controlled when the right equipment is in place.

The time value of money is also being affected by the recession. Most investment institutions are paying half of 1% for savings accounts, and maybe 3% for the long term of a certificate of deposit.

Consider the cost associated with an unplanned shutdown: The oil and gas and petrochemical industry estimates an unplanned process shutdown runs on average of more than $100,000 per day. What is the return on investments to avoid an unplanned shutdown?

The decision to invest in process integrity typically follows a few logical steps:

  • Pricing comparison of components available
  • Weighing the price difference against benefits
  • Past performance
  • Estimated return on additional investment.

Today modern industrial process facilities rely tremendously on the bulk power supplies that provide power not only the control system architecture but also to bus powered control and measurement instruments. These continuous production process applications require more than off-the-shelf industrial grade power supplies. A single power supply failure could have a catastrophic effect that equates to a tremendous amount of lost revenue.

This need for system integrity and guaranteed performance in these demanding conditions necessitates power redundancy. In the simplest terms, N+1 is a robust and affordable power supply redundancy method that guarantees continuous system functionality in the event of a single power supply failure. With redundancy‚ a supply failure will not initiate an emergency repair situation and can be replaced without shutting down the power system or the process.

The balanced load sharing of an N+1 power supply enables all of the modules to share the load evenly. This load sharing functionality is built-in to each power supply, without the need for an external diode module. Balanced load share ensures that one power module is not working harder than another, adding to the longevity of the power supply modules. N+1 power supplies are easily expandable in 15 A increments just by adding another module when the load requirement increases. The end result is a highly available and affordable redundant power solution.

A minimal investment spent for key components designed for system integrity results in an exponential ROI. This investment results in net present value increase that blows away any alternative uses of the funds.

If the local bank was offering a 28% interest rate on a CD, we would all be getting speeding tickets on the way to the bank to take advantage of this great ROI.

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