INEOS Köln prevents unscheduled downtime

Emerson Automation Solutions
Wednesday, 10 December, 2008

Emerson Smart Wireless technology is enabling polyethylene maker INEOS to detect blocked filters within polyethylene pellet transportation tubes that can lead to production downtime at its plant in Cologne, Germany.

INEOS produces polyethylene, which is used for a very broad range of products including pipes, packages, films and coating. Polyethylene pellets ready for customer use are transferred to the plants’ silo store through pneumatic conveying systems. Pellets are entrained in streams of air and effectively 'blown' from one location to another. The incoming air is filtered to prevent any pollution of final product.

The filters become blocked over time and lose their efficiency, which in turn affects the quality of the end product. INEOS could have established a preventive maintenance routine and cleaned the filters on a time-based schedule. However, this could mean that filters are cleaned when they don’t need it, or that filters could block between cleanings. Cleaning and unblocking the filters requires INEOS to stop the blowing and that is not good for the process. Should a blockage take place on a weekend, the maintenance costs are higher.

INEOS chose to clean the filters on a predictive basis, before they become blocked and lose too much efficiency. By closely monitoring the filter condition the maintenance team can schedule the cleaning work at a time that will minimise the cost and disruption caused.

INEOS explored the possibility of installing an online system that would closely monitor the condition of the filter and ensure availability. Using differential pressure meters, it is possible to monitor the condition of the filters online. However, because of the location of these filters, connecting the required measurement points back to the control system using a wired solution was not feasible.

“The filters are very hard to reach and the high cost of installing cabling to connect the devices prevented us from installing the online condition monitoring points we wanted,” explained Frank Mehlkopf, maintenance engineer, INEOS Köln GmbH.

Instead, they turned to wireless. “We found Smart Wireless so easy to use and we are currently testing it at eight filters in our logistic area,” said Mehlkopf. “These transmitters don’t even need to have line of sight to the gateway. We fully intend to take advantage of this.”

Emerson Process Management

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