Optimizing flow control in the digital age

18 May, 2017

By Chris Covey and Alun James, Sagentia.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) has been heralded as a great enabler that will revolutionize manufacturing and processing. Asset-heavy industries were slow on the initial uptake. However, as the cost of the sensor and network development declines, it is becoming more feasible to outfit industrial equipment with devices to capture and communicate data. An emerging era of smart industrial equipment will unlock new opportunities to enhance process efficiency, sustainability, and safety in flow control applications.

View of flow control pipes


Bringing legacy assets online

Developing a robust strategy to meet the increasing demand for smart equipment can be complex. Careful consideration and planning are required to ensure the upgrade or replacement of existing assets is effective and has longevity. 

Much of the time, legacy assets associated with flow control and fluidics – such as valves, pumps and metering devices - are performing their original intended function perfectly well. Nevertheless, they are increasingly disadvantaged through a lack of integration with other equipment. They need to be brought online to unlock remote monitoring and management capabilities and to achieve integration with wider business process management systems. 

Legacy equipment can be upgraded with the addition of sensors that monitor key performance parameters and convey this data to a central network. However, the design and integration of such sensors bring many technical challenges. Overcoming these requires a greater depth and breadth of skills and knowledge than is typically associated with the design, manufacture, installation and maintenance of the underlying equipment.

Design considerations

The design of smart fluid control systems requires a broad spectrum of skills. Manufacturers that acknowledge and harness this are best placed to improve new and legacy equipment, prolonging lifespan and relevance in the rapidly evolving digital age.

Defining which parameters to monitor is the first step. It’s not desirable for equipment to be covered in a forest of sensors, so understanding what information will be most useful in managing a specific application is essential.


Read the full article here, first published in Fluid Handling International

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