Showing posts with label industrial process control. Show all posts
Showing posts with label industrial process control. Show all posts

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Compressed Air as a Motive Force

coalescing filters for compressed air
Coalescing filters are common components of a compressed
air system.
Image courtesy SPX Pneumatic Products
Compressed air is utilized throughout every industry and many commercial settings. While primarily used as a motive force, compressed air serves as a utility in many applications in the oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical, nuclear power, food, pharmaceutical, and automotive industries. The presence and use of compressed air across multiple industries is so essential, its importance is comparable to utilities like electricity, gas, and water.

In the control of fluid processes, compresses air facilitates operation and control of valves and other instruments. Dry air, with a sufficiently depressed dew point, can ensure process materials and equipment stay free of moisture and its associated impediments to smooth operation. The use of compressed air as either a motive force or a utility imparts minimum requirements on its quality or constituents. Confounding substances, such as particulates, water, and oil, may be entrained or contained in a compressed air stream. Various methods of filtration and moisture removal may be necessary to condition or process the compressed air in order to deliver consistent quality.

The advantages of using compressed air as a motive force in industrial settings are more numerous than appropriate for listing here, but consider that tools driven by compressed air can be more compact, lower weight and less prone to overheating than electrically driven tools. Air driven devices tend to have reduced parts count and require little maintenance, whether tools, valve actuators, pistons, or other machines. Compressed air driven devices can be fashioned to amplify the power of an electrical signal, enabling a simpler means of powering some types of loads. Compressed air, by its nature, presents no electrical hazards to the workplace.

Whenever air driven devices are utilized, attention must be given to compressed air production. The pressure, maximum flow rate demand, and compressed air quality must meet the process or operation requirements. Share your compressed air system challenges with specialists, leveraging your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Self Contained Temperature Regulators

pilot operated temperature regulator valve
Pilot operated temperature regulator
Courtesy Spirax Sarco
Not everything in process control is complicated. Some requirements can be fulfilled by proper application of the right product.

Temperature control, the regulation of heat content, transfer of heat, or whatever else it may be called, is an ubiquitous operation in industrial, commercial, and institutional settings. The range of complexity or challenge in temperature control applications extends from very simple to almost blindingly complex. The key to finding the right solution for any of these applications lies in understanding how the process works, setting an appropriate measurement method for the process condition, establishing a control method or algorithm that adequately responds to the process, and integrating an output device capable of delivering heat or cooling in accordance with the controller commands.

Somewhere along the continuum of project complexity is a zone that is well served by simple and rugged devices that incorporate temperature measurement and control into a single device. Self contained temperature regulators are pilot or direct operated units comprised of a filled bulb temperature sensor that operates a modulating valve that controls the flow of liquid or steam used to regulate the process temperature. The regulators offer a host of advantages.

  • No external power source required for operation
  • One device to specify, purchase, and install
  • Installed by a single trade
  • Low, almost no, maintenance
  • Intrinsically safe operation
The document provided below illustrates several variants, along with application examples and principal of operation. Not every application needs a microprocessor controller. Share your temperature control applications and challenges with process control specialists, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.



Monday, May 15, 2017

Wireless Communications in Industrial Process Control

symbolic wireless communications or transmission tower antenna
Industrial wireless communications for process control
Electrical cables, for many years, were the only option for connecting measurement devices with their companion control and monitoring gear. While wired connections are still in widespread use, probably still the predominant connection method, wireless communication technology offers a range of advantages in connecting process measurement instruments and their controls.

Bandwidth, in wireless communication and modem data transmission terminology, is the analog range of the radio spectrum’s frequencies, or wavelengths, used to transmit a signal between transmitter and receiver. Jurisdictional agencies throughout the world regulate the use of bandwidth and assign ranges for use by public and private organizations.

Before there can be an appreciation of radio transmissions, there first must be an understanding on the transmission medium. Radio transmissions run on the UHF radio spectrum, or the Ultra high frequency spectrum, named by the International Telecommunication Union; the spectrum runs from 300 megahertz (MHz) to 3 gigahertz (GHz).

There are two prominent frequencies utilized for industrial wireless communications in the US: 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz. Within the allocated bandwidth, there are numerous individual channels that can be used for applications.

Each of the available bandwidths has its own transmission characteristics which may make it advantageous for a particular application. Amateur radio stations operate in the 900 MHz range because attenuation of the transmission signal is less than at higher frequencies. Higher frequencies have greater theoretical transmission range, but can be impaired by smaller sized objects in the transmission path because of their shorter wavelength.

Due to a number of practical application factors, 2.4 GHz technology is predominate in consumer and many industrial applications; one of the main reasons is the sheer amount of concurrent signals in the designated bandwidth. The 2.4 GHz band can accommodate more concurrent users or devices. Both frequency ranges have useful application in automation and process control, enabling effective connections between devices over distances from several feet to thousands of miles.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

High Visibility Process Gauges Deliver Improved Readability in Low Light Conditions



Process gauges can sometimes, by necessity, be located in areas with low lighting or other conditions that do not promote easy viewing and reading of their dial face. Winters Instruments, manufacturer of a range of industrial instrumentation including dial face gauges, has released their WinBRIGHT high visibility pressure gauge dials. The new gauge dials provide either a highly reflective background color or glow in the dark option for the company's offering of pressure gauges in the 4" through 6" diameter range.

The video provides a quick overview of the new offering. Considering these gauges for installation in existing or new processes can bring better visibility to operators and technicians reading process gauges. More information is available from instrumentation specialists, with whom you should share your process measurement challenges and requirements. Combining your own experience and process knowledge with their product application expertise will yield a positive solution.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Check Valve Incorporates Useful Features For Industrial Process Fluid Systems

Large industrial check valve
Check valve with integral straightening vanes
Courtesy Titan Flow Control
A check valve allows fluid flow in one direction (forward) and prevents it in another. They are employed extensively in industrial and commercial piping systems to prevent the reverse flow of a fluid that would produce an undesirable effect. Numerous sizes and types are available to meet specific application challenges. Each check valve must be properly selected to accommodate the pressure, temperature, and flow characteristics of each system. Proper materials of construction must be selected to provide suitable service with the process media.

Check valves are commonly applied to protect pumps from any induced reverse flow in a system. They can also be found in combination with other valves, providing assurance that the process fluid flows only in one direction.

One manufacturer, Titan Flow Control, incorporates a number of features into a single unit to provide wide ranging application. Features of the check valve are detailed below, along with a data sheet with more technical information. You can always get the latest available product data and solid application assistance from the process control specialists at Mountain States Engineering. Combining your process knowledge with their product application expertise will yield a positive outcome.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Learn From History: Analysis of West, Texas Fertilizer Explosion

Industrial accidents range in severity and impact from minuscule to catastrophic. As operators, owners, or technicians involved with industrial operations, we all have a degree of moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to conduct our work in a manner that does not unduly endanger personnel, property, or the environment. Maintaining a diligent safety stance can be helped by reviewing industrial accidents at other facilities. There is much to learn from these unfortunate events, even when they happen in an industry that may seem somewhat removed from your own.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, or CSB, is an independent federal agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents. Below, find one of their video reenactments of an explosion that occurred in Texas in 2013, along with their findings regarding the cause of the incident. Check out the video and sharpen your senses to evaluate potential trouble spots in your own operation.

Contact Mountain States Engineering & Controls for any safety related information you may need concerning their products.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Industrial Control Systems Have Unique Cybersecurity Challenges

industrial control system cybersecurity
Industrial control systems have special
cybersecurity aspects.
The International Society of Automation is offering a free white paper entitled “What Executives Need to Know About Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity”. The article provides useful commentary and information that establishes the scope of cybersecurity in the industrial process control space and provides a basic framework for understanding how every process may be impacted by lax cybersecurity efforts. The author, Joseph Weiss, differentiates Industrial Control System (ICS) cybersecurity from that of organizational IT through a review of various attributes common to both types, including message confidentiality, integrity, time criticality, and more. Any reader’s awareness and understanding of the cybersecurity risks to their operation will be enhanced through this article. I finished reading the article wanting more on the subject, and ISA is certainly a resource for additional content.

A quote from article...
“Cyber incidents have been defined by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as occurrences that jeopardize the confidentiality, integrity, or availability (CIA) of an information system.”
ICS cybersecurity extends beyond preventing malicious outside intruders from gaining access. It is an important part of maintaining the overall operating integrity of industrial processes. A holistic approach is advocated to identify physical risk factors to the process and its componentry (more on that in this blog post), as well as vulnerabilities that may prevent exploitation by unauthorized parties. Weiss goes on to describe the role and qualifications of the ICS Cybersecurity Expert, essentially an individual that can function effectively as an IT cybersecurity tech with the added skills of an industrial control systems expert.

A synopsis of attack events is provided in the article, with the author’s conclusion that not enough is being done to secure industrial control systems and the risk exposure is substantial in terms of potential threats to personnel, environment, and economy. By providing your name and email address, you can obtain the white paper from the ISA website. Your time spent obtaining and reading the article will be well spent.


For any specific information or recommendations regarding our products and cybersecurity, do not hesitate to contact us directly. We welcome any opportunity to help our customers meet their process control challenges.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Limit Switches On Valve Actuators Are A Valuable Option

industrial valve electric actuator with limit switches
Electric valve actuator with optional
limit switches
Courtesy Crane
Limit switches are devices which respond to the occurrence of a process condition by changing their contact state. In the industrial control field, their applications and product variations are almost countless. Essentially, the purpose of a limit switch is to serve as a trigger, indicating that some design condition has been achieved. The device provides only an indication of the transition from one condition to another, with no additional information. For example, a limit switch triggered by the opening of a window can only deliver an indication that the window is open, not the degree to which it is open. Most often, the device will have an actuator that is positively activated only by the design condition and mechanically linked to a set of electrical contacts. It is uncommon, but not unknown, for limit switches to be electronic. Some are magnetically actuated, though most are electromechanical. This article will focus on limit switch designs and variants used in the control and actuation of industrial process valves.
Employed in a wide range of industrial applications and operating conditions, limit switches are known for their ease of installation, simple design, ruggedness, and reliability.
Valves, devices used for controlling flow, are motion based. The movable portions of valve trim create some degree of obstruction to media flow, providing regulation of the passage of the media through the valve. It is the movement of critical valve trim elements that limit switches are used to indicate or control. The movable valve trim elements commonly connect to a shaft or other linkage extending to the exterior of the valve body. Mounting electric, hydraulic, or pneumatic actuators to the shaft or linkage provides the operator a means to drive the mechanical connection, changing the orientation or position of the valve trim and regulating the media flow. Because of its positive connection to the valve trim, the position of the shaft or linkage is analogous to the trim position and can be used to indicate what is commonly referred to as “valve position”. Limit switches are easily applied to the valve shaft or linkage in a manner that can provide information or direct functional response to certain changes in valve position.
In industrial valve terms, a limit switch is a device containing one or more magnetic or electrical switches, operated by the rotational or linear movement of the valve.
What are basic informational elements that can be relayed to the control system by limit switches? Operators of an industrial process, for reasons of efficiency, safety, or coordination with other process steps, may need answers to the following basic questions about a process control valve:
  • Is the valve open? 
  • Is the valve closed? 
  • Is the valve opening position greater than “X”? 
  • Has the valve actuator properly positioned the valve at or beyond a certain position? 
  • Has the valve actuator driven the valve mechanism beyond its normal travel limits? 
  • Is the actuator functioning or failing? 
Partial or complete answers to these and other questions, in the form of electrical signals relayed by the limit switch, can serve as confirmation that a control system command has been executed. Such a confirmation signal can be used to trigger the start of the next action in a sequence of process steps or any of countless other useful monitoring and control operations.

Applying limit switches to industrial valve applications should include consideration of:
  • Information Points – Determine what indications are necessary or useful for the effective control and monitoring of valve operation. What, as an actual or virtual operator, do you want to know about the real time operational status of a valve that is remotely located. Schedule the information points in operational terms, not electrical switch terms. 
  • Contacts – Plan and layout a schedule of logical switches that will provide the information the operator needs. You may not need a separate switch for each information point. In some cases, it may be possible to derive needed information by using logical combinations of switches utilized for other discrete functions. 
  • Environment – Accommodate the local conditions and hazards where the switch is installed with a properly rated enclosure. 
  • Signal – The switch rating for current and voltage must meet or exceed those of the signal being transmitted. 
  • Duty Cycle – The cycling frequency must be considered when specifying the type of switch employed. Every switch design has a limited cycle life. Make sure your selection matches the intended operating frequency for the process. 
  • Auxiliary Outputs – These are additional contact sets that share the actuation of the primary switch. They are used to transmit additional signals with specifications differing from the primary signal. 
  • Other Actuator Accessories – Limit switches are often integrated into an accessory unit with other actuator accessories, most of which are related to valve position. A visual local indication of valve position is a common example. 
Switches and indicators of valve position can usually be provided as part of a complete valve actuation package, provided by the valve manufacturer or a third party. It is recommended that spare contacts be put in place for future use, as incorporating additional contacts as part of the original actuation package incurs comparatively little additional cost.

Employing a properly configured valve automation package, with limit switches delivering valve status or position information to your control system, can yield operational and safety benefits for the life of the unit. Good advice is to consult with a valve automation specialist for effective recommendations on configuring your valve automation accessories to maximize the level of information and control.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Close Look at Butterfly Valve Seat

Butterfly valve soft seat cutaway view
Cutaway View of Butterfly Valve With Soft Seat
Courtesy Flowseal - Crane CPE
Butterfly valves are found throughout the fluid based applications in the process control field. They are one of many common and special types of industrial valves used to regulate fluid flow in ways that are compatible with the media being controlled and the degree of precision needed to produce the desired process outcome.

The industrial process control field benefits from a large array of valve manufacturers in pursuit of the favor and business of process operators. Operators continually seek better performance and lower life cycle costs. Manufacturers respond with increasingly improved designs.

A butterfly valve has a disc that is positioned in the fluid flow path. It rotates around a central axis, the stem, through a 90 degree arc from a position parallel to the flow direction (open) to perpendicular (closed). A critical element of a butterfly valve is the seat, where the disc seals to the body in the closed position. Seat design should provide these positive operating attributes:
  • Low friction to reduce valve operating torque
  • Resistance to wear
  • Arrangement that provides for easy replacement
  • Seal or shutoff tightness appropriate for the application
Flowseal, part of the Crane, CPE group of brands, utilizes their specially designed Soft Seat valve sealing arrangement on their resilient sealed butterfly valves. The Soft Seat feature provides beneficial fulfillment of process requirements for the attributes listed above. The valve is available in a range of sizes, with options and variants to meet a wide array of industrial process requirements.

Learn more about the Flowseal Soft Seat butterfly valves by watching the short video below. You can delve deeper with a browsing of the illustrative brochure that is also included below. It provides some detailed illustrations of how the seat functions under differing operating conditions. Contact a product specialist and share your process challenges. Your process knowledge and their product application expertise, when combined, will produce a useful solution.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Capable Single Tank Level Display Solution

Oil Refinery Storage Tanks
Oil Refinery Storage Tanks
Earlier this year, King Gage released their LP1 Tank Level Indicator. The unit provides a number of integrated features that give the user accurate indication of tank liquid level. Mate the LP1 with any level sensing instrument that produces a 4-20 ma output signal and it can calculate tank inventory based upon hydrostatic pressure or direct level measurement. Tank level is displayed directly in engineering units, referencing a capacity profile that correlates the transmitter output to actual tank geometry. All application parameters are preprogrammed at the factory, based upon supplied application data, and stored in nonvolatile memory. Options include an isolated 24 Vdc transmitter power supply, Modbus communications, and more.

This simple, accurate, flexible unit can be easily applied in many industrial process measurement and control settings. Discuss your application possibilities with a product specialist to save time and take advantage of their wide range of application experience.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mountain States Engineering Reference Library


Mountain States Engineering Reference Library
Industrial Process Control Product Reference Library
Mountain States Engineering 
Business is about getting things done.
In today's pressured environment, it's also about getting things done expeditiously. At Mountain States Engineering, we want our existing and prospective customers to know that we are here to help you get those things done....expeditiously. Our updated website includes a library of links and literature downloads for everything we sell. The goal is to help our fellow engineers in the industrial process measurement and control industry find answers and information quickly, anytime.

No registration, password, or revealing of personal information is required to access the information. Go to our website, select the menu bar item "Library" and you are in.

Mountain States Engineering is dedicated to support of industrial process engineers, technicians, and stakeholders of all types. With top flight products, problem solving, and support, Mountain States Engineering will be the group you turn to for industrial process control solutions. If you need anything not provided in the library, never hesitate to contact one of our engineering sales professionals.

Screen shot of Mountain States Engineering Library Page
Screen Shot for Mountain States Engineering Reference Library
No registration required

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Modern Refrigeration Technology Delivers Energy Saving Air Drying for Industrial Compressed Air Systems

Industrial Refrigerated Air Dryer
Modular Refrigerated Air Dryer
Courtesy SPX Pneumatic Products
Compressed air is a common utility and source of power in many industrial plants and operations. It is well known that limiting the amount of moisture in compressed air is advantageous. Modern operations increasingly demand drier compressed air supply containing fewer contaminants. Some of the potentially damaging effects of moisture in compressed air systems include:

  • In air operated instruments, corrosion, leading to incorrect readings and false responses by plant operators.
  • In industrial processes utilizing pneumatic controls, clogging of orifices and malfunction of controls due to rust and scale can result in additional maintenance and repair, even process malfunction or shutdown.
  • In industrial spray-on coatings, moisture can affect their color, finish, and adherence.
  • In industrial production equipment, moving parts can experience rust and premature wear due to the washing away of lubrication by excessive moisture in compressed air.
For many industrial applications, removing moisture from compressed air can be accomplished on a continuous basis utilizing a properly configured mechanically refrigerated air dryer. SPX Flow Techonology's Pneumatic Products brand of refrigerated air dryers applies best in class refrigeration technology to deliver substantial energy savings to the process. The ESM product line features:
  • Measurable energy savings.
  • Rapid return on investment
  • Load matching performance
  • Modular construction for multi-station design with isolation for service and maintenance
  • Fault tolerant operation
  • Integral filtration
Review the product data sheet below for more detail on the versatility, energy savings, and all around performance of the ESM Series Refrigerated Air Dryers. Product specialists can provide answers to your application questions, along with assistance with product selection and incorporation into your plant or process.




Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Economical Suction Diffuser Provides Industrial Pump Protection

Suction Diffuser for Industrial Pump
Courtesy Titan Flow Control, Inc.
Liquid handling in industrial processes commonly involves the provision of a pump to move the fluid in the desired manner. Industrial pumps operate best and longest when they are provided with inlet conditions within a range for which the pump is designed. Two conditions prevalent among many pumps are low levels of particulate matter greater than a tolerable size and minimized turbulence at the pump inlet. Piping and specialties approaching the pump inlet should be arranged to provide these conditions to promote low vibration, energy savings, and a long service life.

An effective way to provide pump protection, save installation space, and reduce the probable demands for maintenance and service over the machine's expected operating life is to specify and install a suction diffuser at the pump inlet. There are numerous advantages to this approach.
  • The unit is mounted directly to the inlet side of the pump, saving space and additional connection points.
  • An integral strainer prevents unwanted materials from entering the pump inlet.
  • Straightening vanes on the outlet side of the suction diffuser reduce turbulence in the flow entering the pump.
  • Provision of a suction diffuser reduces the total parts count and connection points (joints) approaching the pump inlet. A single cast unit takes the place of a strainer, reducing elbow, and entrance pipe. Reduced installation time and cost are achieved using the integral design of the suction diffuser.
Titan suction diffuser installation
Suction Diffuser shown installed on pump inlet.
Courtesy Titan Flow Control, Inc.
A suction diffuser may not be the most exciting specialty you ever install, but the benefits of its use warrant your attention. It's one of those simple product ideas that contributes to a good pump installation you can confidently sign off on. You can find out more by reaching out to a product expert and discussing your potential application.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Chemical Flow Meters for Hazardous Environments


ISTEC Aquametro Chemical Flow Meter
Chemical Flow Meters for Industrial Process Measurement
Courtesy ISTEC
ISTEC Corporation’s Aquametro Domino line of Chemical Flow Meters provide accurate measurement of water and liquid chemical flows using rotary piston or vane wheel technology. Versions of the instruments are designed for use in safe and hazardous areas (ATEX). The Domino line has flexible mounting configurations to minimize installation space, and is suitable for conductive or non-conductive liquids. Proper operation and accuracy of the instrument is not diminished by flow disturbances. The rugged units are manufactured in a wide array of sizes and configurations to accommodate every application.

Review the product literature below, or contact a product specialist to discuss your water or liquid chemical flow measurement requirement.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Downpipe Liquid Level Sensor Purge Control

Downpipe bubbler type tank level indicator
Arrangement for bubbler type tank level indicator
with purge control
Courtesy King Gage
Industrial process control often requires the measurement of liquid inventory volume or mass. If the material is contained within a tank of known shape and dimensions, the volume can be determined accurately by measuring the level of the liquid. Various means are used to determine the liquid level. One of the simplest is the downpipe sensor, sometimes referred to as a "bubbler", where liquid level is inferentially derived using differential pressure. The downpipe is a length of pipe that is open at the end extending down into the liquid contained within the tank. The top end is connected to a purging device that provides a controlled flow of pressurized air or gas into the pipe. The pressure maintained within the downpipe will reach an equilibrium with the pressure produced by the hydrostatic force related to liquid level in the tank or vessel. Accurate measurement of this pressure, along with a thorough knowledge of the liquid's properties, can be used to determine the depth of the liquid within the tank and the corresponding volume.

King-Gage manufactures several industrial process level measurement devices incorporating downpipe purge technology and differential pressure measurement. They have applications in inventory monitoring, process control, hazardous and explosion zones, ballast monitoring, and other areas that benefit from their simple operation, low maintenance, and ruggedness. The company, in its own words describes the unit as an...
...extremely rugged unit designed specifically for hazardous areas requiring flameproof or ATEX (Ex d) rating. A proprietary wet check assembly ensures positive seal of fluids to ensure containment integrity. Loop powered transmitter provides 4-20mAdc output while components are isolated from the process media by a continuous air purge. Total consumption rate is less than 0.083 scfm for energy saving operation with external air/gas supply.The only internal element is a simple length of pipe extending into the tank.
Rugged design requires no setup or air flow adjustment due to its differential pressure regulation that avoids dynamic pressure drops common to other bubblers. This ensures highly accurate level measurement and repeatability within ± 0.2% while preventing turbulence or foaming of tank liquid. Applications include water/wastewater, sulfur pits, most free flowing liquids (including slurries) and temperatures in excess of 160 °C (320 °F) as the transmitter is effectively isolated from the process by the air purge.
The slides below illustrate various installation configurations, including one for explosion hazard areas. Contact an application engineer for more detailed information.