Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration

Best practices in measurement

September 2020 Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration

What cannot be or is not measured, cannot be improved. Any data-driven approach for continuous improvement in manufacturing requires definition and ongoing tracking and reporting of key performance indicators (KPIs) against targets. This is as relevant in the boardroom as it is on the shop floor. What is the point in providing the tools and applications to steward manufacturing operations conformance against targets and constraints if the basic means aren’t in place to measure the operation in the first place?

Changing times: what was fit-for-purpose then may no longer be now

Many facilities were built at a point in time – some as far back as the 70s and 80s – for a particular process, a certain level of control and a certain suite of optimisation applications. Roll on to today where the world is grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities are now being operated and maintained at skeleton staffing levels and are being retooled for different services than were originally intended.

Operating envelopes are changing and the impact of these changes on instrumentation must not be underestimated. Instrumentation with a design rating of a particular flow rate or capacity is heavily stressed when the service or load is increased. In some cases, the instrumentation for the original service is unsuitable for the new service and needs to be swapped.

Some fine and specialty chemicals manufacturers may be dosing new chemicals into flowlines for enhanced process efficiency. For legacy instrumentation this can be a real issue as it affects the instrumentation resulting in periods of time when the plant is subject to sub-par control. This can impact plant safety and reliability, as well as profitability.

Key plant measurement considerations

Situational awareness forms the basis of effective decision-making in process facilities. The foundation for situational awareness is the plant data itself, gathered from the various devices on the front line. With context and relationship, plant process data measurements constitute information. Increasing context, connectedness, patterns/relationships and the understanding thereof, can then lead to knowledge and insight. This is fundamental to effective decision-making in plant operations, which is made easier through data analytics, which itself is under-pinned by the quality of the fundamental plant data. Only with robust plant data can the true potential of analytics be realised.

Three decisions to take today

1. Undertake a Value Of Information (VOA) audit

Knowledge and information are useless unless you are going to do something with it. While an excess of process data presents many opportunities, it can also paralyse an organisation and hinder speed of decision-making. Evaluate the key value drivers of the plant, assess which plant data and information is required to create value and then inventory the key instrumentation needed to ensure value creation can be sustained.

2. Instrumentation-related Management of Change (MoC) processes and procedures

Quality measurements must be maintained when switching between plant production levels or product line batches, as these stress instrumentation devices in different ways. Assign responsibility to an individual within the instrumentation discipline to work with operations for creating or updating formal Management of Change processes for key plant measurement/data considerations. Based on this, establish a fleet-wide measurement device monitoring and assurance program. A fleet-wide system for tracking and reporting performance, as well as assuring compliance, is a necessary first step to operational improvement.

3. Operations staff re-deployment

Where unit operations have been turned down, or temporarily shut, can those operators be re-deployed to support elsewhere in the plant? For example, regular and accurate pressure measurements and flowrates at either end of impulse lines on distillation columns are vital for a reasonably accurate mass balance to be achieved in order to match models to plant data. After all, many analytics and rigorous dynamic models use online measurements from the plant to provide information about the status of the plant that cannot be directly measured, can predict the future trajectory of the plant and advise the operators on action required to keep the plant within its operating window and at its optimum operating point. However, accessing these measurement locations isn’t always straightforward. Downtime of operations staff could be utilised to find sustainable solutions for these challenges for when operations ramp up again i.e. finding new ways to retrofit, upgrade or maintain measurements across the plant.

For more information contact Yokogawa South Africa, +27 11 831 6300,,


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

The Fluke T6 with FieldSense technology
October 2020, Comtest , Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
FieldSense technology works by providing a capacitive path from a contact point on the back of the tester and the operator’s hand to earth ground.

Preventive maintenance in pulp and paper mills
October 2020, R&C Instrumentation , Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
The thinking around machine condition monitoring has changed over the years and it is now stated that vibration is the better measurement over temperature, since it gives earlier warning.

Leak detection has never been quicker and easier
September 2020, SKF South Africa , Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
SKF’s TKSU 10 ultrasonic leak detector is able to identify leakages in compressed air and vacuum systems, delivering substantial savings for end-users by reducing inspection time and minimising energy costs.

Internal inspection of machinery
September 2020, SKF South Africa , Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
The TKES 10 Endoscope Series from SKF is designed for fast, easy internal inspection of machinery, delivering significant savings in terms of both time and money to customers and end-users.

Parker releases new software tool
September 2020, Parker Hannifin - Sales Company South Africa , Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
IQANgo enables service technicians or machine owners to connect wirelessly to modules in their machines, allowing them to perform a broad range of actions such as system status checks and troubleshooting errors or alarms.

Condition monitoring solutions from Turck Banner
September 2020, Turck Banner , Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
Turck Banner’s retrofit solution can be used in industrial plants that do not yet fully support Industry 4.0 sensor-based condition monitoring. Machines can easily be monitored by customised systems, with data transmitted via wireless networks if required.

Detect compressed air, steam, gas and vacuum leaks
September 2020, Comtest , Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
Comtest has introduced the Fluke ii900, a handheld sonic industrial imager that enables maintenance to quickly locate air, steam, gas and vacuum leaks in compressed air systems. The straightforward, intuitive ...

The digital twin explained
August 2020, Yokogawa South Africa , IT in Manufacturing
The digital twin defined A digital twin is a virtual, digital copy of a device, system, or process that accurately mimics actual performance in real time, is executable, can be manipulated, and allows ...

Condition monitoring in the cloud
August 2020, Festo South Africa , Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
Detecting irregularities at an early stage and initiating the necessary measures before a system failure are now made possible by the dashboards and IoT gateway CPX-IOT from Festo. The turnkey, preconfigured ...

The Ratchet P-Clamp reloaded
August 2020 , Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
When a heavy-duty equipment manufacturer asked HellermannTyton to devise the most effective way to attach and remove cables for additional equipment, nobody imagined that a well-trodden path would lead ...