Friday, July 22, 2016

Some Examples of the Use of “Internet of Things” Technology in the Chemcial Enterprise

Very generally, “Internet of Things” (IoT) technology uses sensors to collect, send, and receive data to and from the Internet.  Once on the Internet, and with the aid of processing computers, the data can be useful in making decisions about what is being sensed and sending data back to the sensors for controlling equipment and processes.  Within the chemical enterprise (industry), sensors can be placed on process equipment, on transportation equipment, and in other areas where data collection and processing can be useful for decision-making and control.

I have done an extensive Internet search looking for examples of actual use of IoT technology in the chemical enterprise.  I found examples in what I have categorized as five broad areas: predictive maintenance; processing; energy consumption/management; safety; and transportation.  These examples are provided in the following paragraphs.

Predictive Maintenance.  A starch producer used IoT technology to decrease unplanned shutdowns; replacing them with planned maintenance.  BP is using IoT technology as part of a leak detection system at chemical production sites.  A SABIC olefins plant in the United Kingdom is using IoT technology to detect potential problems with pumps before they disrupt normal operations.  A PEMEX refinery is using IoT technology to detect problems with cooling towers.  Phillips 66 has used wireless temperature sensors to predict the health of exchanges by correlating the data from these sensors with production and environmental data.  Several companies use drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to monitor those plant sites, difficult for personnel to get to, for maintenance concerns.

Processing.   BASF has automated a soap production process with sensors, actuators, and digital communication via networking.  A pulp and paper industry company has raised production 5% by using embedded temperature sensors whose data is used to automatically adjust a kiln flame’s shape and intensity.  BASF is using IoT technology to identify a key step in a polyester production process that needed to be more efficient.  German companies are using low-cost sensors and the Internet to determine reasons why actual production does not match maximum capacity production.

Energy Consumption/Management.  Borealis uses data mining and modeling to develop target values for plant energy consumption.  Current plant conditions, outside temperature, system fouling, catalyst aging, and other data are used to determine target values.

Safety.  Drones used in predictive maintenance also provide safety advantages by relieving personnel of accessing dangerous plant locations.  Chemcial companies are using drones at their plant sites.

Transportation.   Dow monitors thousands of shipments at any one time using RFID, GPS, and the Internet.   Also sensors can track the conditions of products while being shipped.  INEOS uses senses, satellite technology, and the Internet to track containers and rail cars with ethylene oxide.  They also track the condition of the chemical.  Several midstream energy companies, such as TransCanada, that supply various products to downstream chemical producers, are using IoT technology to insure and enhance pipeline deliveries.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Chemical and Material Shortage Alert – June 2016

The purpose of this blog is to identify chemical and material shortages reported on the Internet.  The sources of the information reported here are primarily news releases issued on the Internet.  The issue period of the news releases is June 2016.

Section I below lists those chemicals and materials that were on the previous month’s Chemical and Material Shortage Alert list and continue to have news releases indicating they are in short supply. Click here to read the May 2016 Chemical and Material Shortage Alert list.

Section II lists the new chemicals and materials (not on the May alert).  Also provided is some explanation for the shortage and geographical information.  This blog attempts to list only actual shortage situations – those shortages that are being experienced during the period covered by the news releases.   Chemicals and materials identified in news releases as only being in danger of being in short supply status are not listed.

Section I.   Steel and other metal scrap:  global; supply not keeping up with demand

Section II.   Shortages Reported in June not found on the Previous Month’s List

Freon: United States; supply not keeping up with demand
Zinc:  global; mining not keeping up with demand

Reasons for Section II shortages can be broadly categorized as: 

1.  Mining not keeping up with demand: zinc
2.  Production not keeping up with demand:
3.  Government regulations: none
4.  Sources no longer available: none
5.  Insufficient imports:  none
6.  Supply not keeping up with demand:  freon