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The heartbeat of a plant

Foam detection and predictive maintenance with radar measurement
The heartbeat of a plant

Infrapark Baselland saves up to 80 % of the monthly costs for anti-foam agent simply by monitoring and dispensing in a targeted way. Similar to a heart rate monitor for human beings, Endress+Hauser’s Heartbeat Technology is used by the responsible persons at Infrapark to observe their processes and only intervene when actually necessary.

Chris Rea once sang, “I can hear your heartbeat”. What might sound like pathos and over-simplification in the world of pop music is evidently much more difficult when it comes to process automation. Nevertheless, it was exactly what Infrapark Baselland of Switzerland were looking for to monitor the heartbeat of their processes and check measures for optimised, cost-effective procedures.

Infrapark Baselland is a location for companies in the chemical and life sciences industries with a 32-hectare campus. The industrial wastewater which occurs during the manufacture of speciality or agrochemicals and dyes needs to be pre-treated separately before ending up in the Rhine region’s biological industrial sewage treatment plant. One of the oxidation reactors for pre-treating this wastewater is 16 m high. Thick foam is regularly produced in this reactor owing to the chemical processes. The problem with foaming is that it is no longer possible to utilise the whole of the tank volume because a safety buffer is necessary. The tank throughput is therefore reduced. In extreme cases, the foam even seals off the ventilation system and may result in overflowing.

In order to prevent the negative effects of foaming, Infrapark Baselland regularly dispensed anti-foam agent into the process as a prophylactic measure. Large quantities of expensive agent were required to do this. Stefan Graser, the man responsible for pre-treating the wastewater at Infrapark Baselland, thought there must be a simpler and cheaper way. After investigating various options, he discovered Endress+Hauser‘s measuring devices with Heartbeat Technology.

Heart rate monitor solves the problem

In the meantime, Graser uses a Micropilot with Heartbeat Technology to measure the levels in the tanks. In the past, he never knew whether the anti-foam agent was really working. Now, after several weeks of experience, he not only relies on Micropilot’s level measurement in the reactor but also on Heartbeat verification. The micropilot measures the level in the reactor and this value is now compared to the value of another – hydrostatic – measuring device Cerabar. The difference of the levels measured by the two devices equals the level of the foam on top of the fluid. Knowing the exact level of the foam now allows the exact dosing of the anti-foam agent. Thanks to this technology, Infrapark Baselland can now utilise the entire tank volume. The costs for anti-foam agent are 80 % lower because dosing takes place in a targeted way.

FHX50 is a remote display for easy reading and operation of Micropilot. Installation and commissioning were very straightforward for Graser using the free, wizard guided configuration software. The verification at the touch of a button and the documentation of device tests have further convinced Graser of the outstanding measuring reliability. The documentation also is valid for official purposes.

How Heartbeat Technology works

Heartbeat Technology continuously diagnoses and verifies the measuring devices in a plant. Without interrupting the process, Heartbeat Technology tests the instrumentation for measuring flow, level, temperature and analytics and documents the status in accordance with regulatory requirements. This information is collated on a dashboard and used to derive predictive maintenance and process optimisation measures.

Continuous diagnosis of measuring devices

To return to the medical analogy, Heartbeat Technology monitors measuring devices continuously in the same way as a digital heart rate monitor on your arm. It provides standardised information with clear guidelines, thus enabling cost-effective maintenance.
The system operator sees at a glance what needs to be done, and testing and inspection cycles are significantly extended as a result. The constant diagnosis of measuring devices also means that the system is operated to a high safety standard – while simultaneously reducing costs.

Verification during operation

In the same way that you can check your heart rate while running, Heartbeat Technology allows verification without interrupting the process. It simply performs checks during operation. Standards and regulations require that plant operators document the status of the process and instrumentation properly. Measuring devices featuring Heartbeat Technology automatically generate documentation in accordance with the relevant regulations and laws. A simple, pre-defined sequence guides maintenance staff through the test. Once complete, the results are clearly documented, thus reducing the cost of verifications for a SIL proof test or proof of functional reliability.

Monitoring helps maintenance staff

All processes are read out accurately, so that system operators can see instantly when the next maintenance is due and which processes need to be optimised. Instead of having to go to the measuring devices regularly to check whether anything is wrong, maintenance staff now only need to attend to them when actually necessary.

Endress+Hauser regularly upgrades its range of measuring devices for temperature, analytics, flow and level to include Heartbeat Technology. By keeping a finger on the pulse of the plant, this technology plays a key role in the company’s future strategy of ensuring safe and cost-effective plant operation for customers.


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