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Coker Valve Monitoring in a Refinery

Delphin TopMessage Modular Data Acquisition System

CAS DataLoggers recently provided the data acquisition and control solution for a large manufacturer of valve systems for use in many different industries. The company produced ball, needle, choke, control, gate, and other types of valve systems of many different diameters. One of its customers was a refinery using a special 3-way switching valve in order to direct oil flow into different coking towers. However, the operation of the valve was periodically unreliable and caused costly shutdowns in the refining process. Therefore a reliable monitoring solution capable of connecting to many different kinds of sensors was needed to monitor the correct operation of the valve at high accuracy and analyse the data for a remedy. This device would also need to be simple to configure and operate as well as include powerful data analysis software and a modular design to accommodate possible expansion to add more input and output channels in future.

The manufacturer installed a Delphin TopMessage Data Acquisition and Control System close to the valve control unit in order to record all data following the valve’s movement. From the many available configurations, management selected a TopMessage data logger with an 8- channel ADFT module featuring synchronously fast sampling analog inputs. The TopMessage data logger was placed into an explosion-proof enclosure in a nearby EX zone, and its compact design fit neatly into the small compartment.




The TopMessage system measured the 3-phase engine current consumption and voltage. The installed sensors included a strain gauge for torque measurement, a motor voltage transducer, 2 control circuit voltage transducers, and 3 motor current probes. The strain sensor measured force and torque during the movement of the refinery valve. The analog inputs were configured for 1 kHz sample rate each, and the TopMessage datalogger recorded on all 8 channels synchronously into its spacious 1GB internal memory. Data transfer was accomplished through a wireless Ethernet radio. The internal logic channels of the TopMessage were configured in such a way so that the data storage was activated on certain threshold levels of engine current consumption, ensuring that only relevant data during the valve movement was logged. These in-build logic functions also allowed the user to configure the TopMessage device with event-based logging functions.

The Delphin TopMessage functioned as a modular and scalable system capable of highly accurate measurements with up to 24-bit resolution, with true differential inputs along with 2 slots for analog or digital input or output cards and a CANbus for expansion modules. Contained in an industrial-grade enclosure, the stand-alone data logger had screw terminals for secure connections, performed signal conditioning, and included an Ethernet interface to connect to a PC for data analysis. The TopMessage datalogger recorded all the data from each valve movement, when an event trigger automatically downloaded the data from the system via wireless Ethernet network to a PC in the central control room.

The data analysis and post-treatment was enabled using Delphin’s powerful ProfiSignal Basic software. Post-processing of data files to calculate RMS values over current were performed, and the scheduler function of the Datservice Configurator software automatically downloaded the data to PC over the WALN Network for analysis. Refinery management were specifically interested in the engine current consumption and the strain/torque profile during the valve movement, which gave a clear indication when the value was working incorrectly and helped them to schedule maintenance action.

coker-valve-graphThe manufacturer benefited in several key ways after installing the Delphin TopMessage system in its customer’s refinery. The TopMessage’s modular design offered the customer a wide range of I/O modules to select the best ones for this application, with different modules available for any number of channels and sensor types. Likewise, the system’s number of outputs could be easily expanded whenever needed. The TopMessage data acquisition system was highly accurate and reliable, and the customer was easily able to continually monitor the valve to check its status and schedule maintenance before its operation could fail again, preventing further halts in processing. Automatic downloads from the Datservice Configurator software were uncomplicated to set up and streamlined the data acquisition process, leading to efficient data analysis and problem resolution.