Intelligent solenoid valves: slash time and costs with knowledge

When a refinery in South America was approaching its scheduled three-year maintenance shutdown, it decided to take advantage of the information provided from its intelligent solenoid valves. Earlier, the refinery had decided to install these valves on every emergency shutdown (ESD) valve to identify degradation by using partial stroke testing (PST) for these critical valves.

Benefits from real-life example

After analyzing the performance information provided by these valves, they determined that only 40% of the valves at the refinery were developing a performance problem. The rest of the valves were simply double-checked to see that they were not developing any wear.

Based on this data, the refinery decided to carry out full maintenance only on those valves with lower performance to avoid the time-consuming and costly work of removing all the emergency valves as was done earlier. In this way, the plant could ensure reliability and safety, plus return to normal operation quicker. This proved to be a very good approach because the refinery reduced its maintenance costs by 58% over its past practice.

In addition, by using the information prior to shutdown, they could plan and carry out the entire process much more efficiently. It also gave their operators the capability to analyze the reason for the deteriorating performance. This enabled them to learn more about the specific application requirement and improve process performance in the future.

This real-life example clearly demonstrates the capabilities and benefits that an intelligent solenoid valve provides.

Intelligent solenoid valve adds to safety

An intelligent solenoid valve is a product specifically designed to close an ESD valve for safety reasons. It typically has reliability figures that comply with Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 3. Additionally, its electronics and microprocessors allows it to analyze an ESD valve’s performance by performing the PST to see if the valve’s performance has changed over its lifetime. Typical problems include valve sticking, valve or actuator corrosion, pneumatic leakages and more.

Higher reliability through simplicity

The main benefit of an intelligent solenoid valve for a user is its simplified installation, which leads to higher reliability and safety due by eliminating any additional components from the ESD valve.

The intelligent solenoid valve is a truly integrated solution that includes safety action, PST implementation, high pneumatic capacity as well as limit switches in the same package. Moreover, it offers diagnostic information for predictive maintenance activities.

Studies estimate that a properly functioning predictive maintenance program can offer up to 30% or 40% in savings. The experience of numerous plants supports this: running scheduled maintenance shutdowns with the help of predictive maintenance information can cut valve-related maintenance costs by even half in the best cases. More importantly, well-planned maintenance actions can help eliminate lost production time.

Lower capital investment for EPCs

From an EPC contractor’s point of view, the main benefits of intelligent solenoid valves come through the capital investment. Since there are fewer pneumatic components used, these valves provide a lower-cost solution. The space can be optimized with intelligent solenoid valves and the I/O card number is reduced to half. Furthermore for the EPC, diagnostics can help identify possible problems throughout the commissioning phase, ensuring fast process plant startup.

This blog post has been up-dated in July 2020, due to company name change to Neles.

You can read the whole article on this case, ’The performance from within’, published in Hydrocarbon Engineering, December 2015.