The Internet has brought a new character to many things that have been familiar to us for decades. These things seem to remain unchanged and yet change in many subtle ways to become smart cyber-physical systems. Cars still offer a great and memorable driving experience but electric mobility and internet connectivity ensure higher efficiency and more comfort. Lightbulbs still give us light, but Internet has changed the way we switch them on and off.
Valves are going through similar waves of change.
The working and design of valves have essentially remained the same since the 1960s. They provide precise control over the flow as they have done for ages. However, the degree of this precision and control has improved significantly due to some subtle changes that still continue to occur.
As in many other aspects of life, electronic cyber-physical systems are changing the way valves are controlled operated and maintained.
Have you noted these 4 emerging trends in control valves?
The rise of process simulation
The digital twinning technology enables valve users to create a virtual copy of the valve and simulate the process conditions under which it will operate. Now, the user has an idea of how the valve will respond to their application needs before the actual valve is manufactured. The valve design can then be adjusted accordingly.
Digital twins continue to work after the valves are manufactured and deployed, mimicking the operations of the real valve and generating data that could help with diagnostics and maintenance.
Explore digital twinning in detail
Smart valve positioners:
The valve positioner converts electrical or pneumatic signals into actions that control the valve actuator. As opposed to conventional positioners do not always need to come in contact with the valve stem for feedback on the action. The smart positioners are often enabled with low-power central processing units, giving them the capability to detect faults and communicate with other positioners or the central valve control systems using communication protocols.
Smart valve diagnostics:
Smart valve diagnostics is a trend facilitated by smart valve positioners along with valve monitoring software. A smart controller or positioner device is fitted to the valve to monitor its performance. The relevant operating and diagnostic parameters are displayed in real-time on your screen. A software program then analyzes the data to instantly detect faults and even recommends action with step-by-step instructions.
Know how smart diagnostics can help
With technologies such as digital twins, smart positioners, and cyber systems for control, today’s control networks generate a copious amount of data about the functioning as well as the health of valves. Wise scrutiny of this data alongside the valve inspection data could tell you what could go wrong with the valve in the near future. Once you have an estimate of how a valve could fail, you can contemplate the right course of action in advance.
While approaches such as RBI and FMEA do help, not everything can be predicted accurately and failures do happen. Such times call for focusing on causes, not symptoms of the fault in the valves. Root Cause Analysis (RCA) approach can help companies review and update the FMEA policy. RCA method is a good way to discover new possibilities as it drives one to ask focused questions.
Thus, data is a tool that you could use in both pro-active and reactive maintenance approaches.