Sep 17, 2014
Over the previous decade, new technologies, as well as an increasing demand for oil and gas, have spurred new investment in offshore drilling and production activities. With new regulations and a greater emphasis on safety, due to accidents such as Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, the need for marine support vessels is growing. They are being called on in greater numbers to supply platforms with necessary materials for drilling, production, and emergency support should a malfunction in operations occur.
With the increasing requirements and greater demands for supply vessels, networking technologies are being explored to increase productivity and improve shipboard capabilities. Valve communication networking is becoming the preferred method for installing automated valves in process industries, including petrochemical, pharmaceutical and biofuels. The same reasons that make it desirable in industrial plants also make networking preferable for marine applications, including:
A valve communication solution for marine applications includes a valve communication terminal (VCT), with solenoid valve and limit switches integrated into one package, and networking components linking the ship’s control system with the network communication protocol to the VCT. A great example of the VCT is the Axiom and an example of networking components is the FieldLink Bus Protection Module (BPM) and gateway— from the StoneL product center at Valmet Flow Control business line (former Neles). Shipbuilders worldwide have begun adopting valve communication networking and are realizing the benefits. Hundreds of vessels are now equipped with shipboard valve communication networks above and below deck in a wide range of ship types and applications.
A complete valve communication solution addresses many shipbuilders’ concerns and provides benefits including (See figure 2):
Figure 2: In a conventional installation, each process control device has to be individually wired with up to five or more connections. An installation of 300 automated on/off valves would typically require 1,500 wires, 1,200 I/O points, and considerable labor hours and staff. Installing networked process control valves would require only 20 (two-wire) cables and one person can be assigned to this task, dramatically reducing installation time and materials costs plus saving additional costs in other infrastructure.
To make the transition to valve communication networking, shipbuilders and ship owners have had to overcome real and perceived problems that exist on land but are magnified for seagoing installations. Valve communication and control devices may be used individually or in combination to address:
Figure 3: The Axiom AX’s rebreather is suitable for both spring return (shown) and double-acting actuators. The unique design of the pneumatic valve in the Axiom provides a rebreather functionality, for spring return actuators. By tubing the Axiom manifold mounting plate to both sides of the actuator, ingestion of salt water or other contaminants into the actuator is eliminated.
“Valve communication networks dramatically reduce wiring costs. In addition, smart instruments and valves are easier to install, leading to considerable reduction of time and manpower requirements for commissioning. Also, smart valves on a network can provide fast information about their condition, so that people don’t have to travel to difficult areas of the ship to detect problems or troubleshoot them.”
Most of the technology for device valve communication networking used in ships was transferred from land-based industrial applications where it has been used for over a decade. Once it was adapted to shipboard use, various enhancements were added to further improve redundancy, safety and installation productivity in very confined shipboard spaces. There are many maritime applications, including military, in which shipboard bussing of valves and other devices can yield substantial cost benefits along with improved operational efficiencies, maintenance cost reductions, and safety. Well stimulation vessels, as well as offshore service vessels, large offshore service vessels, and platform supply vessels are embracing shipboard valve communication solutions for its many benefits, including minimal space requirements, increased efficiency, and
Figure 4: FieldLink Bus Protection Module (BPM) works with AS-Interface to identify and isolate a short circuit in either the drop connection or on the main network “loop” allowing the rest of the devices to function normally. Used in conjunction with Neles’ Axiom valve communication and control monitor, BPMs improve safety by helping to prevent loss of process control. This reduces downtime and increases productivity.
Figure 5: The Axiom’s integral solenoid system operates on less than 0.6 watts of power, and the integral pneumatic valve system operates on standard plant air, with 0.7 or 1.2 Cv to operate valves rapidly.
One of the first manufacturers of VCTs to utilize valve communication networks in the marine industry, Neles’ StoneL product center has been an innovator in creating robust networking components suitable for numerous shipboard applications. They have supplied thousands of conventional and valve communication networks for marine vessels operating all over the world. Valmet's shipboard proven valve communication network solutions for the marine industry include:
Neles’ StoneL application support group is able to combine both valve communication and networking capabilities to provide a complete shipboard system. FieldLink solutions focus on economically and reliably connecting field devices with the computer control architecture regardless of the communication protocol employed. VCTs enable quarter-turn and linear discrete automated valves to think and communicate. Modular products and support services based on a broad range of experience allow Neles and StoneL supply channels and integrators to respond to each customer’s shipboard networking challenges.
By Dale Ruckman
Published in Valve World July-August 2014
Text originally published in 2014, and slightly updated in April 2022, due to the company name change to Valmet.
Jun 20, 2019
Integrating your automated valves utilizing Valmet limit switches will allow you to improve process performance and reduce life-cycle costs. Our limit switches offer a full range of monitoring, communication, and control platforms ideally suited for quarter-turn and linear discrete valve applications even in extreme process environments.