Pipe bending machine for 10″ pipes!

Unison of Scarborough in the UK has installed and commissioned the world’s largest and most powerful all-electric pipe bending machine, at the Norwegian offshore and maritime services company, Westcon Yard AS. Capable of generating a colossal 660,000 Nm of continuous, servo-controlled torque, the custom-designed machine will be used for precision bending of thick-walled carbon steel pipes up to 10 inches (273 mm) in diameter.

This is the second all-electric pipe bender that Unison has supplied to Westcon’s pipe production facilities in Ølensvåg, Norway. The first, a 90 mm single-stack model from Unison’s Breeze range, was installed at the beginning of 2015 and enabled the company to bring fabrication of all pipe sizes up to 60.3 mm in diameter in-house. It has also helped Westcon to simplify and accelerate its production process dramatically, by allowing parts to be fabricated from single-piece piping stock, instead of from multiple cut-to-length straight sections and pre-formed bend parts bought-in from external suppliers.

Westcon has similarly high expectations for its new 10-inch machine. The company now intends producing virtually all the pipe sizes that it needs for its outfitting, service and repair operations entirely in-house, without having to use pre-fabricated bend sections.

This application of all-electric bending technology to pipes up to 10 inches in diameter is without precedent. Although Unison’s bending machines are used by a number of the world’s leading ship and submarine builders to produce large pipe and tube assemblies, this is by far the most powerful that the company has ever designed and built. It highlights the inherent scalability of Unison’s machine architecture and underlying motion control technology – the company’s range of all-electric bending machines now extends all the way from 16 mm (5/8 inch) to 273 mm (10 inches).

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Honeywell To Acquire Elster

Honeywell announced in July 2015 that it has signed an agreement to acquire the Elster Division of Melrose Industries plc, a leading provider of thermal gas solutions for commercial, industrial, and residential heating systems and gas, water, and electricity meters, including smart meters and software and data analytics solutions, for approximately $5.1Bn.  The Honeywell corporate release continued as follows:

Elster also manufactures flow computers and regulators for the gas industry.  Elster consensus sales for 2015 are estimated to be $1.8Bn.  The price translates to approximately 12.6 times Elster’s estimated 2015 consensus earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) – [so this is around $400m – Ed] – and the acquisition is anticipated to occur in the first quarter of 2016. The agreement is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory review and Melrose shareowner vote.

“The acquisition of Elster will generate strong future returns for Honeywell’s shareowners because it increases our growth profile globally – creating both organic and inorganic growth opportunities – and because Honeywell can run this company effectively and accelerate its growth through our complementary technologies, software knowledge, and presence in High Growth Regions,” said Honeywell Chairman and CEO Dave Cote.  “Elster has outstanding technologies, brands, energy efficiency know-how, and global presence, all of which we are very well-positioned to build on.  Elster also creates a new platform for acquisition targets for Honeywell that will be additive to the business’ growth and global presence.  We will see immediate benefits to Honeywell’s portfolio, accelerating into 2016 and 2017. This is a great acquisition for Honeywell and our shareowners.”

“The Elster acquisition proves that we are staying true to our disciplined M&A approach and integration processes because it’s a model that has worked very well for us,” said Cote.  “During the past decade, we have completed more than 80 acquisitions adding approximately $12Bn in revenues.  We will continue to look for good acquisitions to enhance our growth profile.  We see Elster as a great opportunity to deploy our operating model and key process initiatives to grow the business, enhance our position globally, and drive significant returns to shareowners over the long-term. The Honeywell Operating System (HOS) will be a major factor in creating new synergies that will increase the growth and profitability of each of Elster’s businesses.”

Elster employs approximately 6,800 people with major locations in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Slovakia.  The company maintains an impressive installed base with more than 200 million metering modules deployed over the course of the last 10 years alone.

“This acquisition will allow us to improve customer value with technologies and lifecycle management solutions for industrial end users served by Honeywell’s Environmental Combustion and Controls and Process Solutions businesses,” continued Cote. “Elster’s gas business offers products in high demand among natural gas customers and brings a strong, global distribution network and numerous cross-selling opportunities for existing Honeywell technologies to new customers in both developed and High Growth Regions.”

“Elster’s gas, electric, and water meters are highly valued for their reliability, safety, and accuracy.  Elster has a world-class reputation for delivering on the operational efficiency and regulatory certification requirements of utility customers globally.  We expect that energy efficiency initiatives and mandates and the increased need for natural resource management will drive meaningful and sustained growth for Honeywell in the metering segment.  Utility metering in particular is rapidly evolving as new ‘smart’ technologies and software and data analytics capabilities are becoming adopted around the world and we expect strong growth from this segment globally.  Elster’s differentiated technologies, extensive industry expertise, and relationship with utility customers globally – combined with their strong positions in the highly regulated heating, controls, and metering segments – are a great fit for Honeywell’s portfolio,” concluded Cote.

There is no change to the 2015 full year guidance Honeywell provided in its second quarter earnings release.  Honeywell expects that the dilutive impact of the transaction on its 2016 Earnings Per Share to be minor.

Added on December 30, 2015:

Honeywell completed this acquisition on 29 December 2015, and advised how the businesses will be moulded into the Honeywell corporate structure……

Elster’s water and electricity metering business, along with part of its gas business, will become part of Honeywell’s Environmental & Energy Solutions (E&ES), a global business that produces residential and commercial building controls that help keep millions of homes, commercial buildings and industrial facilities comfortable and energy efficient. E&ES is a business unit of the Honeywell Automation and Control Systems division.

Elster’s upstream and midstream gas applications businesses will be integrated with Honeywell Process Solutions, within Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies. Elster’s products and technologies complement the strong HPS position in the natural gas sector. The new expanded line of HPS products will include ultrasonic and turbine meters, electronic volume correctors,  gas chromatographs, flow computers, regulators and pressure reducing stations for the gas transmission and distribution industry.

Optical TDLAS process analysers

A new PR from UK instrumentation distributor Quantitech provides a wake-up call, on many levels. Hopefully readers of the INSIDER will already have been woken up to the technology awarement level.

Quantitech has been appointed the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor for Focused Photonics Inc, a supplier of process gas analysers based on tuneable diode laser absorption spectroscopy. TDLAS is one my favourite technology adaptations that has made significant recent progress in process industry instrumentation: maybe on fairly specific difficult applications it’s true. Yokogawa were out there in front, buying the technology developed by Dow Chemicals in 2007, or maybe earlier (believe me I had to look this up on this blog); Endress +Hauser has invested in it for years, big time, and then bought SpectraSensors too, in 2012; predictably, Emerson bought someone in 2014 (Cascade Technologies, a UK technology start-up. And again I had to find the name from an earlier article on this blog). Quantitech MD Keith Golding sees much wider application for these products, on the basis that Focused Photonics already have a world-wide installed population of over 8000 instruments.

The only other report that has quoted decent numbers was one earlier this year, and someone quoted hundreds of TDLAS units offshore measuring the moisture content in North Sea gas, – but the blog has failed to tell me who it was, on that one.

Golding also adds: “Developed out of Stanford University California, the cradle of TDLAS commercialisation, FPi was established in China in 2002 and now employs over 3,000 staff. We have visited a number of LGA installations and were very impressed by the standards of quality and reliability being delivered by these instruments.”

TXT 3 FPi factory

The FPi factory

Indeed the FPi website confirms the above comments: they have a factory in Hangzhou, China, and claim “FPi is the world leading integrated solutions provider of process control and environmental monitoring. Since being established in 2002 by two elite graduates of Stanford and UC Berkeley, FPi has specialized in analytical instruments innovation and manufacturing.” The two key personnel appear to be Dr Jian Wang, the Chairman, General Manager and Chief Engineer, plus Naxin Yao, another General Manager and Director.

“As a world class innovator in gas, water and particulate analysis technologies, FPI has been acknowledged for its expertise in DLAS (diode laser absorption spectroscopy), DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy), UltraViolet, Near-Infrared, Atomic spectroscopy, Molecular spectroscopy, Chromatography, spectrophotometric colorimetry and electrochemistry.” The applications quoted include flue gas monitoring and CEMS systems, air and water quality monitoring, lab analysis and metal analysis systems, as well as process analytical instruments.

TXT 3 FPi product

The FPi sensor for duct monitoring

So here we have technology expertise developed by Western (US in this case) universities, then taken up by foreign research students, who, all credit to them, establish a business based on this in China, backed by Chinese investors, and the resulting products, and jobs, arise from this Chinese investment in start-up technology. Not quite what UK PM Cameron sees as the end result of UK University technology expertise leading to high-tech UK jobs. But just what China wants to invest in, to enhance their industry.

Typical FPi applications include ammonia slip control, HCl measurement for sorbent injection optimisation, furnace oxygen, flue gas monitoring in FCC catalyst regeneration, trace H2S and H2O in natural gas, H2S measurements in sulphur recovery, and cross-duct CO monitoring for electrostatic precipitator safety.

Update May 2016

Quantitech have announced that their company has been acquired by Helsinki-based Gasmet Technologies (www.gasmet.com). Quantitech has acted as the Gasmet sales and service partner in the UK and Ireland since 1995: the Gasmet products are used in regulatory monitoring, process control and environment/safety applications. Quantitech will continue to operate from Milton Keynes, retaining the name and their current product range.

Why my eye needs a safety relief valve

I have no history of glaucoma, none in the family, and was initially, maybe 10 years ago, treated with drops to reduce my eye pressure, picked up in eye tests as being too high. [OK, it is worth adding the comment here that I had also been taking prescribed Statins for some time before this, as there is now the suggestion that glaucoma could be a side effect produced by Statins] This treatment continued for many years, with more drops, stronger drops, but eventually the field tests showed that I was losing vision in the lower two quadrants of both eyes, initially the left lower quadrant in one, and the right in the other, so I did not lose any overall vision when using both eyes.

I eventually changed hospitals as the specialists in the first were just rubbing their heads, giving more eye drops, and sending me away for another 12 months – they never mentioned Glaucoma: but they lost my notes continually, so started again twice and did not treat the condition seriously. In the second Hospital I was told I had severe open angle Glaucoma, told to advise the DVLA, and take a driving fields test at an opticians – that led to my car driving licence being withdrawn.

The driving field test does not really demonstrate to you how badly your vision is affected. When I can see the effect of the combined blind spots, just under my eye line, it is when talking to someone at normal face to face distance, maybe 2 feet, when if I look into their eyes I can’t see their lips moving: in fact I can’t see their mouth at all. It’s also surprising how a significant part of effective hearing relies on also observing the lip movement.

After 3-4 years at the next Hospital I had moved up the priority list, having been using two different drops to try to reduce the eye pressure – ineffectively. So I reached the end of a waiting list for an operation called a Trabulectomy.

A Trabulectomy

It’s a frightening operation, more from the point of view of your own worries and not for any pain. The eye is immobilised, and anaesthetised, and my surgeon was very skilled. Nevertheless I would have liked some form of tranquiliser into the line they put into a vein in the back of my hand. Maybe I was so paralysed by fear, they thought I was calm. The objective is to put a slit into the eyeball, to allow the internal fluid to drain out through this slit, rather than through the normal route, which has probably furred up. (Maybe we should have bought a better water softener?) From the instrument engineer’s point of view, it’s a drain hole like a safety valve, an over-pressure valve, to let fluid out when the pressure gets too high. Say at over 20mm Mercury, to reduce the normal eye pressure – to the desirable level of 12-15mm Mercury.

The drops used after the operation are of two types: one seems to be an antibiotic, to stop germs getting inside; the other, a corticosteroid, is to ‘stop inflammation and swelling’. This also delays the healing process, so allowing the slit put in the eye to settle down without the edges healing together across the slit, keeping a drain slot open once the eye recovers. So the drop delivery immediately after the operation controls the slot width/gap, and the objective is to make this the right size to suit your condition – – and so it takes some tweaking. Hence the frequent return trips to the specialist to see what is happening.

What happens next?

Now I have one eye operated on, getting better after about three weeks, hopefully the pressure is going to be lower. I am now thinking about the next eye needing the same operation, but next time I’ll ask for something to tranquilise me. It’s a fairly long operation, about half an hour, with them working on the eye and you just lying there, so you can get a bit worried.

After effects are interesting. I’m an optical/telescope/photography guy, with a collection of over 200 telescopes, a few binoculars and other optical things: I’ve always worn glasses and could never bring myself to use contact lenses. I studied physics at University and specialised in wave theory, optics, refraction, etc. So I can see my own blind spots, know that the left eye (yet to be operated on) has a blind spot almost impinging on the centre line, to the right, such that I can check text reading backwards more easily than forwards, etc. Alternatively you can tip your head to the right so the line of text on the PC screen is angled above the line between the eyes.

Apparently the eye has a membrane over the outside surface: when the eye pressure is reduced, maybe this membrane does not shrink, like the outside of the eyeball does. So it is a little loose on the eye. The slot, that somehow in the operation they put in the actual eyeball, leaks fluid out as far as the inside this membrane (which somehow maybe they repair in the operation): it forms in a “bleb”, ie a bubble of fluid, like a lump, on the eye surface, and slowly disperses through the membrane. I think in the operation they inject something to form the basis of the ‘bleb’. Bleb is a real technical term.

After-effects

But when like me you work on a PC, at night, with light radiated directly into your eye mostly, it appears that the folds or ripples in the surface of this membrane can appear to move across the pupil, and at certain angles the light is refracted into the eye, so you see occasional hair like white lines of light running across the field of vision. This presumably will stabilise/disappear as the membrane does shrink, and the eye diameter stops going up and down with pressure variations. I asked the Consultant about this, and he just commented that I was too observant. Trouble is, understanding what I could see, is what made me interested in optics to start with.

Just a final comment: how do you still use a telescope, with almost total blind spots in the lower two quadrants? I use them on aeroplanes, to see the registrations. These you read by almost taking a snapshot of a good sighting into the brain and processing it. The answer I thought was to use binoculars, but it’s not the same. The answer is that you have to use the top half of the eye view, the top two quadrants, for the snapshot, ie aim the telescope below the target of the registration, or whatever. Thank goodness for autofocus on digital cameras!

The future

If the eye pressure is reduced by the dual Trabulectomy, the damage will be arrested, and I will not lose any further vision. But what has been lost, is lost, as it is caused by pressure damage cutting the optic nerve where it leaves the eye: so until they can get little biotic nerve bridging robots to repair that break (and spinal chord breaks in people who have neck injuries), that area of vision will remain cut off. The technique is being developed, with the research on stem cells etc, but not that fast.

Maybe there will be a follow up blog later. But I have to work out whether this is a post that should be used on the process control blog, where I always promote the use of optical techniques, or the Telescope Collector’s blog (for optical equipment enthusiasts, http://www.telescopecollector.co.uk)!

New methanol plant automation

Yokogawa has received an order from Orascom E&C USA to deliver control and safety systems for the Natgasoline LLC methanol plant, which will be one of the largest methanol plants in the World. Currently under construction in Beaumont, Texas, this facility will have a capacity of approximately 1.75 million metric tons per year when it starts production in 2017.

For the process control and safety of the Lurgi MegaMethanol process technology and auxiliary facilities throughout this plant, Yokogawa will supply their Centum VP integrated production control system, ProSafe-RS safety instrumented system, Exaquantum plant information management system, and Plant Resource Manager (PRM) software package. The Yokogawa Corporation of America will be responsible for the engineering and delivery of these systems, and will provide support with installation and commissioning.

Yokogawa entered the U.S. market in 1957 and has grown the business across diverse markets, but have had particular success in the oil and gas refining and offshore production, LNG liquefaction and chemical manufacturing areas. We are proud to win the first order for a new US-based grass roots methanol plant that exceeds a million metric tons per year. This project allows us to build on our already extensive track record in executing and maintaining methanol production in North America”, said Daniel Duncan, President and CEO of Yokogawa Corporation of America.

Though the chemical industry in the USA has long relied on imported methanol, the amount of methanol produced locally is steadily increasing, because of the ready availability of ethane produced from domestically sourced shale gas. Yokogawa won this order because of its excellent track record in completing projects, and its demonstrated ability to deliver comprehensive, integrated solutions that help optimize operations.

Finland LNG terminal automation

Honeywell Process Solutions will provide its Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) automation controls, with tank gauging systems, to Finland’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal. The imported LNG will be used to supply natural gas to marine vessels and industrial facilities in Finland, helping to replace other fuels that have higher emissions.

The cleaner-burning natural gas will help these vessels and facilities meet emissions regulations in the Baltic Sea and Nordic areas. Honeywell technology (including Enraf tank gauging) is currently being used in about 40 similar LNG import and export terminals around the world.

Additionally, Honeywell’s Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI) will connect and power comfort, safety and security systems within the terminal itself, creating a productive environment for workers. With tight integration between the Experion PKS and EBI, operators will have one interface to access and manage all process and facility technology, which improves site-wide visibility and efficiency.
“Honeywell’s technologies offer Skangas Oy an all-in-one solution that will help make their new facility be efficient and productive from day one,” said Pieter Krynauw, vp and gm of the Honeywell Process Solutions Projects and Automation Solutions business unit. “This fully integrated technology will help the terminal maximize its operations with accurate and on time information, precise measuring technologies, safety and security.”
This will be the third LNG terminal equipped for Skangas, one of the largest suppliers of small-scale LNG in the Nordic countries. The company operates similar facilities in Sweden and Norway to provide customers with natural gas for shipping, industrial and heavy-duty land transport needs. The Pori LNG terminal will have a capacity of 30,000 cubic meters and will be completed in the second half of 2016. Honeywell’s tank gauging systems will be used on tanks provided through the Spanish engineering company FCC Industrial e Infraestructuras Energeticas S.A.U.
“Demand for LNG in Finland continues to rise for industrial, shipping and heavy-duty land transport companies,” said Tommy Mattila, Sales and Marketing director, Skangas. “It is critical that this terminal operates at the highest level of efficiency.”
Honeywell technologies that will be used at the facility include:
  • Experion® Process Knowledge System (PKS), the heart of the Integrated Control and Safety Systems (ICSS), which offers more than traditional distributed control systems (DCS) by unifying people with process, business requirements and asset management by enabling integration of all process control, safety systems and automation software.
  • Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI) is a building management system that provides a single point of access to information and resources that help monitor, control and protect a facility. EBI will connect fire detection, intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance, and heating and cooling equipment at the new Skangas Oy terminal, and seamlessly share data with Experion PKS.
  • Terminal Manager automates all operations at a bulk liquid terminal, including key monitoring and controlling functions such as product receipt, gate access control and loading.
  • Safety Manager integrates process safety data, applications, system diagnostics and critical control strategies, and executes defined safety applications in a fully redundant architecture.
  • SmartRadar FlexLine is one of Honeywell’s portfolio of high-end radar tank gauges for the assessment of tank contents, tank inventory control and tank farm management.
  • Portable Enraf Terminal is a portable device that enables access and reading of Honeywell Enraf tank gauges regardless of weather or operating conditions.