Ready to improve plant uptime

Sitech’s aim is to maximize the performance and profitability of our customers’ plants. We have everything in-house to enable us to do that: knowledge of state-of-the-art technology, the right expertise, and extensive digitalization. Which of our customers are ready to tackle this challenge with us?

Predictable performance to prevent downtime
“At Sitech, we are able to offer our customers even more added value”, says Sylvia Vanhommerig (Business Unit Manager Engineering Solutions). “Especially when it comes to determining how they can make the most efficient use of their plants over the next few years. That means reducing the asset downtime needed for cleaning, maintenance or inspections as much as possible. Our expertise and technologies enable us to reduce that plant downtime by making plant performance predictable.”

Turnarounds no longer depend on inspection intervals
Turnarounds are generally scheduled periodically, often around the time of the inspections that are required by law. “We use the visual inspections to check or predict the condition of plant components, but that only provides a snapshot,” explains Sylvia. “Anything can happen during the period between inspections, as a result of conditions in the plant and how it is operated, for example. It is far safer and more reliable to monitor the condition of critical plant components in a smart, systematic way. If we are able to demonstrate that to the competent authorities, we can reduce the number of periodic inspections or even potentially render them redundant in the long term.”

The right knowledge and technologies in-house
The plant data for monitoring critical installations are already available. What is important now is to use them effectively in order to generate predictive models. “We do this by pooling this plant data and using algorithms where necessary,” continues Sylvia. “Our experts are able to do this and they know exactly how to spot failure mechanisms. What’s more, we have systems and models available to help us identify trends. Performing work for plants run by a variety of companies makes these models all the more powerful. The more plant data we have, the more reliable the results, and the more it allows us to make predictions. This is where Sitech’s added value lies.” She adds, “Of course, it's also important to search for new developments and opportunities to make installations more robust, such as by using alternative gaskets.”

Creating scope for preventive monitoring
“Our engineers are often deployed to analyze crashes,” continues Sylvia. “That is one of our strengths, but it is a task that is performed after the event. I would prefer to monitor preventively and use that to provide customers with ideas for improvement. Fortunately, we have a number of projects ongoing that also give us the opportunity to demonstrate the added value we can offer in this regard. For example, we were given permission by OCI Nitrogen and AnQore to fit a special type of lining to monitor corrosion underneath insulation. And in the ammonia plants, we are currently investigating in depth what process parameters can affect corrosion on vessels and pipes.”

Safety benefits
Increasing uptime is not the only benefit offered by making plant performance predictable. “It also generates cost savings and can extend the service life of older assets. What’s more, monitoring prevents surprises when installations are dismantled during turnarounds. We also should not forget that the reduction in the number of visual inspections and the use of innovative technologies, such as drones and robots, have reduced the need for people to enter plants as often as they used to. That has improved safety considerably,” concludes Sylvia.

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