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Pressure Monitoring of Reactor Bundles in a Refinery

Intelligent Data Logging Systems from dataTaker

Lately, CAS DataLoggers provided the data logging equipment to an oil refinery conducting a demanding field logging test application. The refinery used large catalytic reaction tubes for processing: each tube, in turn, contained hundreds of smaller tubes. These reactor bundles flowed liquid through one end of the reaction tube and crude oil through the other end. The tubes had to be periodically inspected for leaks, so workers inserted fitted plugs equipped with pressure sensors, and the tubes were then air-pressurized. When the pressure in the tubes stabilized after a few minutes, technicians had to work quickly to identify any leaks in the roughly one thousand tubes inside each reactor bundle, and on average it might take personnel a minute or two to test each one. Meanwhile, the reactor had to go offline while workers fixed or replaced its bundles, so the refinery lost time and money for every minute of these maintenance sessions. Accordingly, supervisors began looking for an automated monitoring system which could allow users to quickly flag the tube identification numbers and view all the pressure data by just touching their corresponding numbers onscreen.

The refinery installed 2 dataTaker DT80 Intelligent Universal Data Loggers on their maintenance floor, which was then each equipped with 2 Maple remote displays featuring touchscreen buttons. The dataTakers were then connected to commercial pressure transducers which CAS DataLoggers also provided, while the Maple displays used Modbus to communicate with the dataTakers. Each DT80 formed a complete data logging system connected with a pair of displays and each display connected to the DT80 by cables so they could be physically separated and moved a bit closer to each end of the reactor bundle under test. Users programmed each dataTaker with 2 schedules, 1 for each operator of the Maples.

During the next maintenance session, when the reactor tubes were pressurized, the dataTakers gave technicians a readout of the process. After the tube’s pressure stabilized, users were immediately notified and then simply pressed ‘Start’ on the graphics interface to start the pressure data collection and a count-up timer. Users could then quickly identify all the leaks in the tubes simply by looking at each DT80’s connected displays: whenever a tube’s pressure read too low or too high, the dataTakers’ configured alarms triggered, indicating a leak. The displays’ soft buttons showed the operators exactly which tube it was, right down to the section and row. The displays also kept track of overall maintenance progress and labeled all the data for easy identification. Afterward, the operator just pushed the ‘Stop’ button to stop the timer and end the data capture. This time-saving interface provided the maintenance team with instant identification of exactly where the leaks were so they could finish maintenance as quickly as possible. At the end of the session, the system produced another report listing all the data.

The refinery benefited immensely following the implementation of the dataTaker DT80 data loggers, which cut in half the amount of time it took workers to maintain the reactor bundles, which in turn saved the refinery hundreds of thousands of dollars during each maintenance session. The key advantage was the dataTakers’ ability to flag the tube identification numbers and all the pressure data with just a touch of the corresponding number onscreen. At a glance, personnel saw the pass/fail status of all the tubes as they went, and also had a report summing up operations.