Why is it important for iron developers to perform high-quality cusdev

    When it comes to automating processes in the petrochemical industry, the stereotype often works that production is complex, which means that everything that can be reached is automated through process control systems. Actually not quite like that.

    The petrochemical industry is indeed fairly well automated, but this concerns the main technological process, where automation and minimization of the human factor are of critical importance. All related processes are not automated due to the high cost of automation solutions and are carried out manually. Therefore, a situation where once in a couple of hours an employee manually checks whether a particular pipe is properly heated, if the required switch is turned on and whether the valve is pushed in, whether the bearing vibration level is normal, this is normal.

    Most non-critical processes are not automated, but this can be done using the Internet of Things technology, and not an automated process control system.

    Unfortunately, there is a problem here - the gap in communications between customers from the petrochemical industry and the iron developers themselves, who do not have customers among the oil and gas industry and, accordingly, do not receive information about equipment requirements in terms of application in aggressive, hazardous areas, in harsh climate conditions, etc.

    In this post we will talk about this problem and how to solve it.

    IoT in petrochemistry

    To check some parameters, we use detours for the purpose of visual and tactile inspection of non-critical installation nodes. One of the common problems associated with the supply of steam. Steam is a coolant for a variety of petrochemical processes, and it is supplied from the heating plant to the end node through long pipes. It should be borne in mind that our plants and installations are located in rather difficult climatic conditions, the winters in Russia are severe, and sometimes some pipes begin to freeze.

    Therefore, according to the regulations, certain personnel must make rounds once per hour and measure the temperature of the pipes. On the scale of the whole plant, this is a large number of people who are almost exclusively involved in this - walking and touching pipes.

    First, it is inconvenient: the temperatures are low, and you need to go far. Secondly, it is thus impossible to collect and, moreover, use the data on the process. Thirdly, it is expensive: all these people should do more useful work. Finally, the human factor: how accurately is temperature measured, how regularly does it occur?

    And this is just one of the reasons why the leaders of factories and installations are rather seriously concerned with the issue of minimizing the impact of the human factor on technical processes.

    This is the first useful case for the possible use of IoT in production.

    The second is vibrocontrol. There are electric motors on the equipment, and it is necessary to perform vibration control. It is being done in the same way, manually - once a day, people walk and measure the level of vibration with special devices to make sure that everything is in order. Again, this is a waste of time and human resources, again the influence of the human factor on the accuracy and frequency of such detours, but the main disadvantage is that you cannot work with such data, because there is virtually no data to process and it is impossible to proceed with the maintenance of dynamic equipment as it is.

    And now it is one of the main trends of the industry - the transition from routine maintenance to maintenance as it is, with proper organization of which active and detailed accounting of equipment operating time and complete control of its current state is conducted. For example, when it comes time to check the pumps, you check their parameters and see that the pump A has managed to build up the number of operating hours needed for maintenance during this time, and pump B is not yet, which means that it is not possible to maintain it yet.

    In general, as an oil change in the car every 15,000 kilometers. Someone can roll it for six months, someone will need a year, and someone will take even more time, depending on how actively a particular car is used.

    Same with pumps. Plus, there is a second variable that affects the need for maintenance - the history of vibration indicators. Suppose the vibration history was in order, the pump also did not work out on the clock, which means we are not servicing yet. And if the history of vibrations is not normal, then such a pump should be serviced, even if the clock is not operated. And vice versa - if we have an excellent vibration history, we serve if a clock has been accumulated.

    If you take all this into account and carry out maintenance in this way, you can reduce the cost of maintaining dynamic equipment by 20 or even 30 percent. Given the scale of production - these are very significant numbers, without loss of quality and without compromising the level of safety. And this is a ready case for the use of IIoT in the enterprise.

    And there are many counters from which information is now removed manually (“I went, I looked, I wrote down”). This is also more efficient to serve online, to watch in real time, what and how is used. Such an approach will greatly help in solving the issue of using energy resources: knowing the exact consumption figures, you can feed more pipe A in the morning and more pipe B in the evening, for example. After all, now the heat stations are being built with a large margin in order to precisely provide all the nodes with heat. And you can build not with a margin, but rationally, optimally distributing resources.

    This is a fashionable data driven decision, when decisions are made on the basis of full-fledged work with the data that was collected. Clouds and analytics today are particularly popular, at Open Innovations this year they talked a lot about Big Data and clouds. All are ready to work with bigdata, process, store, but first you need to collect data. This is said less. Now there are very few hardware startups.

    The third IoT case is personnel tracking, providing perimeter navigation, and more. We use this to monitor employee movements and monitor closed areas. For example, some work is being done in the zone, during which there should be no outsiders in it - and there is an opportunity to control this in real time. Or the crawler went to check the pump, and has been with him for a long time and is not moving - maybe the person became ill, needs help.

    About standards

    Another problem is that there are no integrators who are ready to make solutions for industrial IoT. Because in this area there are still no well-established standards.

    For example, how things are in our home: there is a wifi router, you can buy something else for a smart home - a kettle, a power outlet, an IP camera or a light bulb - connect it all to an existing wifi, and it will work. It will definitely work, because wifi is a standard, under which everything is sharpened.

    But in the sphere of solutions for enterprises there are no standards of such a prevalence level. The fact is that the component base itself became affordable at a relatively recent time, which allowed the glands to compete with such a human resource on such a base.

    If you visually compare, the numbers will be about such a scale.

    One sensor for an industrial process control system costs about $ 2,000.
    One LoRaWAN-sensor - 3-4 thousand rubles.

    10 years ago there were generally only an automated process control system, without alternatives, LoRaWAN appeared about 5 years ago.

    But we cannot simply take and use LoRaWAN sensors throughout our enterprises.

    Technology selection

    With home wifi everything is clear, with the equipment of offices everything is about the same.

    There are no popular and commonly used standards in terms of IoT in the industry. There are, of course, a bunch of different industrial standards that firms develop for themselves.

    Take, for example, wireless HART, which was made by the guys from Emerson - also 2.4 GHz, almost the same wifi. The area of ​​such coverage from point to point is 50-70 meters. If we consider that the areas of our installations exceed the size of several football fields, it becomes sad. Yes, and one base station in this case can confidently serve up to 100 devices. And now we are developing a new installation, there already in the initial stages more than 400 sensors.

    And there is NB-IoT (NarrowBand Internet of Things), provided by mobile operators. And again, not for use in production - firstly, it’s trivially expensive (the operator charges for traffic), secondly, it forms too much dependence on telecom operators. If you need to put such sensors in a bunker-type room, where you don’t catch the connection, and you need to install additional equipment there, you will have to contact the operator for a fee and with unpredictable deadlines for ordering the network to cover the object.

    It is impossible to use pure wifi on the sites. Even home channels are clogged up with 2.4 GHz, or 5 GHz, and we have a production site with a huge number of sensors and equipment, and not just a couple of computers and mobiles for an apartment.

    Of course, there are proprietary standards of imputed quality. But this does not work when we build a network with a lot of disparate devices, we need a single standard, and not something closed, which will again make us dependent on one or another supplier.

    Therefore, the LoRaWAN alliance seems to be a very good way out, the technology is actively developing and, in my opinion, it has every chance to grow to a full-fledged standard. After expanding the frequency range of RU868, we have more channels than in Europe, which means that we can not be shy about network capacity, which makes LoRaWAN an excellent protocol for periodically collecting parameters, say, once every 10 minutes or once an hour.

    Ideally, we need to receive data every 10 minutes from a number of sensors in order to maintain a normal picture of observation, collect data and generally monitor the condition of the equipment. And in the case of walkers, this frequency is equal to an hour at best.

    What else is missing?

    Lack of dialogue

    There is not enough dialogue between hardware developers and customers from petrochemistry or oil and gas. And it turns out that IT specialists make excellent iron from the point of view of IT, which cannot be massively used in the petrochemical industry.

    For example, a piece of iron on LoRaWAN to measure the temperature of pipes: hung on a pipe, attached with a buckle, hung up a radio module, closed the control point - and that was all.

    The equipment in the IT part fits perfectly, but the problems for the industry.

    3400 mAh battery Of course, not the simplest, here thionyl chloride, which gives her the opportunity to work in -50 and not lose capacity. If we send information from such a sensor once every 10 minutes, it will put the battery in six months. In a piece decision, nothing terrible — he unscrewed the sensor, inserted a new battery for 300 rubles every six months.

    And if it is tens of thousands of sensors on a huge site? It will take a huge amount of time. Removing the man-hours spent on detours, we get the same time to maintain the system.

    A rather obvious solution to the problem is to install the battery not for 300 rubles, but for 1000, but on the other hand, at 19,000 mAh, it will have to be changed once every 5 years. This is normal. Yes, it will slightly increase the cost of the sensor itself. But the industry can afford it and the industry really needs it.

    No one is casdevit, so no one knows about the needs of the industry.

    And about the main thing

    And most importantly, on what they stumble precisely because of the banal lack of dialogue. Petrochemistry is production, and production is quite dangerous, where a scenario of local gas leakage and the formation of an explosive cloud is possible. Therefore, all equipment without exception should have explosion protection. And have the appropriate certificates of explosion protection in accordance with the Russian standard TR TS 012/2011.

    Developers simply do not know about it. And explosion protection is not a parameter that can be simply added to an almost ready device, as a couple of additional LEDs. It is necessary to redo everything from the board itself and the circuit to the insulation of the wires.

    What to do

    Everything is simple - to communicate. We are ready for a direct dialogue, my name is Vasily Yezhov, the owner of the IoT product in SIBUR, you can write to me here in a personal or email - ezhovvs@sibur.ru. We have ready TZ, we will tell and show everything, what and why we need equipment and what needs to be considered.

    Right now we are already building a number of projects on LoRaWAN in the green zone (where our explosion protection is not an obligatory parameter), we look at how it is in general and whether LoRaWAN is suitable for solving problems on such a scale. We really liked the small test networks, now we are building a network with a high density of sensors, where about 400 sensors are planned on a single installation. By quantity, this is not much for LoRaWAN, but for network density it is already a bit too much. So check it out.

    At a number of high-tech exhibitions from me, iron producers for the first time ever heard about explosion protection and its necessity.

    So this is, first of all, the problem of communication, which we want to solve. We are very much for cusdev, this is useful and beneficial to all parties, the customer gets the right piece of hardware for their needs, and the developer does not waste time creating something unnecessary or completely reworking existing pieces of hardware from scratch.

    If you are already doing something similar and are ready to expand into the oil and gas and petrochemical sector - just write to us.

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