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Valve Technology Learn about the Arrival of an Intelligent Valve System

| Author / Editor: Mareike Monninger / Dr. Jörg Kempf

New technical developments are thronging the market place during the course of Process Industry 4.0. In this context, a new system in the area of valve technology is catapulting itself to the top of the development pyramid. It can be used to simplify, to improve the structure of administrations and to optimise processes. All this can yield surplus value for plant manufacturers as well as plant operators.

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Process Industry 4.0 will be characterized by innovations in the area of control and cybernetics. An intelligent system sets new standards.
Process Industry 4.0 will be characterized by innovations in the area of control and cybernetics. An intelligent system sets new standards.
(Source: © James Thew/Fotolia.com, Gemü; [M]GötzelHorn)

Operating plants as economically as possible plays a role in industry, which is becoming more and more crucial. For this it is important that all components are coordinated with each other optimally, operating conditions and workflows in the plant are understood properly, and downtimes are kept as low as possible. Here, the last precondition, especially maintenance of plant components e.g., valves is an influential factor.

Each simplification in workflow, in documentation and management as well as possible support to error avoidance is decisive here and can contribute to reducing unplanned downtimes and thus increasing the availability and process safety of a plant. In this case, simplification means reducing documentation- and management expenses and therefore, saving time. Support for maintenance means delivering all information relevant to maintenance directly at the place of occurrence in digital form.

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Gemü has developed a system to achieve this: At Conexo the valve components — valve bodies, actuator and diaphragm — and also the valve as a total resource centre, is provided with an RFID chip, and thus, equipped with an undetachable electronic ID. This enables not only unique electronic traceability, but also better identification of the components and wear and tear parts in the field. All the information assigned to the valve or the components can be imported on-site with an RFID reader, the Conexo Pen, and viewed on a tablet via the Conexo App. Documentation and factory certificates of the plant components are therefore available digitally at all times. The plant operator can also call up information about the last maintenance on-site directly.

Digital Maintenance Support

Further, the app also offers the option of digital maintenance support. The technician receives the maintenance order electronically on his tablet, he can identify the valve to be serviced uniquely, and carry out the maintenance job. Who carried out the maintenance and on which date is also recorded automatically in digital format. During the maintenance, the technician is guided by the app through the maintenance process sequence. The old and the new diaphragms are scanned separately with the help of the integrated RFID chip.

Here too, the characterisation is unique, which ensures that the correct components are used. The diaphragm remains uniquely traceable — even after being dismantled. The condition of the diaphragm can be documented finally. The system requests the technician to evaluate the old diaphragm, and he can, if necessary, shoot an image of the diaphragm with the tablet, with the help of the “Photo Documentation” feature. Evaluation of the wear and tear parts also takes place electronically and can therefore be conducted systematically. Pen and app communicate via Bluetooth, all the information collected during the maintenance is stored off-line in the tablet.

This information is then transmitted via WLAN to the Conexo portal, a portable server application, and can be recorded and analysed here. This portal is the central management unit of the system and is ideally installed at the operator premises. All relevant information flows into this unit. All the maintenance logs can be compared to each other with the help of a “Histories” function. Locations, plant sections, components and maintenance orders can be managed, analysed across locations and data can be transmitted to maintenance softwares via interfaces. Even direct communication with the ERP system is possible.

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