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Process Safety

Newly Developed Solution Enables Advanced Diagnostics of Measuring Devices

| Author / Editor: Sabine Mühlenkamp / Dr. Jörg Kempf

Smart door opener: From now on it’s also possible to control and read out diagnostic data of flowmeters in the SIL loop.
Smart door opener: From now on it’s also possible to control and read out diagnostic data of flowmeters in the SIL loop. (Source: ©4Max - stock.adobe.com)

In many chemical industry plants, a safety controller ensures the required level of safety — in the event of danger, it switches off. In order to do justice to this task, it decides, like a watchman, which signals from the field level may be forwarded to higher-level systems and which not. Field device diagnostics for maintenance and optimization have so far been left out of the scope. For the first time, a solution jointly developed by Endress+Hauser and Hima also grants access to advanced diagnostics from instruments applied in safety loops.

Although process automation is heading towards digitization, a look at the field reveals the opposite: 4…20 mA is still the dominant technology for signal transmission, and although many field devices are now equipped with the Hart protocol, in most cases this is only used during commissioning.

This impression is confirmed by Dr.-Ing. Andreas Ziegler, Senior Automation Engineer at the Automation Technology Center at BASF in Ludwigshafen. Together with his colleagues in the Regulated Automation Solutions group, he virtually sets the standards for safety controls within BASF. This includes the creation of specification sheets, the use of proven function blocks or the development of complex, model-based PLT safety solutions. “We have to find a viable way of using automation technology, not just here in Ludwigshafen, but globally,” explains Ziegler. For him, therefore, the big difference between what is possible in theory and what happens in the field is not a surprise.

* The author is a freelancer at PROCESS.

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