Time for a Tech Revolution in Valve Maintenance?
Valves are vital to the efficiency and operation of most industrial processes and are prominent in the oil and gas industry. These flow and pressure control devices have evolved over time and the modern valves being installed today look much different from their earlier mechanical forefathers. Many valves now have electronic monitoring and control capabilities that offer the opportunity to better and more cheaply maintain this critical device.
Maintenance has always been an issue with valves as poor maintenance can lead to early and catastrophic failures. The reactive, “fix when broken” approach is extremely expensive operationally. Sending crews into the field on an emergency basis at the time of failure is very inefficient. The chart below outlines past and present maintenance approaches as well as some of the issues with each.
While product and operation histories provide some guidance to timing and frequency of maintenance there is still a high cost to relying on history alone. Following time based information can lead to servicing valves that do not need it and in some cases can see unpredictable failures. The past and present use of predictive and prescriptive analytics has been a big step forward in valve maintenance but is less than ideal.
At AS-Schneider, we continue to work with our customers to optimize the maintenance process. The emergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) offers a host of new possibilities and we are now working on solutions that will leverage this emerging technology. We are thinking that by collecting real time data and processing that data effectively, maintenance programs can be tailored to the equipment needs. This is a major step forward from the time or condition based approach or even the predictive and prescriptive approach. As I have noted to many of AS-Schneider customers:
“We plan to attach sensors to some of our larger Double Block & Bleed Valves so that we can get real time data back from the field. We could analyse the data and potentially predict failure and inform the end-user way ahead. In that way maintenance can be scheduled and preventively conducted.”
Continued development of the IIoT and data analytics could be the next “disruptive service model” as it promises to get maintenance to where they need to be only when they need to be there. This will lower operating costs and ensure that technical time is best utilized.
As the IIoT is still emerging, concerns over security and reliability persist. Greater development of the internet of things (IoT) on non-mission critical systems should go a long way to correcting or dispelling some of these concerns. These developments will certainly help in the acceptance of the IIoT and it should not be long before these monitoring and control systems are commonplace. Valve monitoring will become just another piece in the industrial smart system where business processes are integrated with lifecycle management and operations and are continuously monitored.
AS-Schneider is committed to being at the forefront of these developments as we see great value for our customers in these systems.
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