We recently interviewed Dirk Horst, a professional in Instrumentation & Process Analyzers Systems who previously worked in Shell Global Solutions and has more than 35 years of experience.
Instrumentation & Process Analyzer Systems
Professional Trainer, Consultant, Workshop Facilitator
What was the most challenging project you worked on during your rich professional career?
The most challenging experience in my career as QMI Engineer was my involvement, as Shell Global Solution’s focal point, for a fully automatic in-line Gasoline Blending project at Harburg Refinery.
This implied a rather complex system that had to be designed and built from scratch, including a control room, implementation of the automatic pre-and post-validation logic, software as well as hardware, as required for the applied on- line Process Analyzer systems. An extra challenge in this supervising job was the indispensable cooperation between all disciplines involved from management, process control, operators, Laboratory and QMI group (PASS)! Tough challenges were faced especially obtaining reliable automatic validation of Analyzers like online FTNIR, Sulphur, Vapor Pressure, and other related equipment. The final result of this project appears to have been a big success since the Refinery made huge additional profits!
What are some of the common mistakes when trying to avoid imprecise measurements in PASS?
Although engineers sincerely try to avoid unreliable analysis results, common mistakes are, e.g., that not enough process data has been considered when designing a complete analysis system. Often, the focus is on just a part of the system. So there is a failure to look at the overall system – from inside the process up to the correctly applied analysis method and data handling – and there is a lack of tools for actual performance monitoring.
What are the biggest challenges for the process of analyzing and sampling systems?
In addition to the physical and chemical condition, properties like corrosiveness or toxicity of the process sample should also be considered. These may have a tremendous influence and even cause serious damage to the analysis system as a whole. This implies that all parts of the analysis system should be compatible, as the parts should not harm the analyzer or prevent the production of reliable results, which is the main aim of the application.
What are the biggest threats or the worst consequences if something goes wrong?
The majority of the currently applied types of on-line Process Analyzers are used to monitor the process.
However, the Analyzers that are applied to control the Process should provide a timely, representative and reliable analysis result when the plant is running – in a cost-effective way while producing all desired benefits,
Last but not least, they may also have the ultimate function of operating the Process Plant in the safest way. In case any of these required functions fail, the equipment and especially the environment and the safety of people may be threatened; in the worst cases, these failures can cause fatal accidents! But aside from the preceding, we should not underestimate the financial impact resulting from inefficient physical and/or chemical process operations. The process may run out of required specs.
So depending on the type of analyzer task, the impact may be huge, e.g., high accuracy as required for online Custody Transfer analysis. The task and application may also be based on legal obligations. Unfortunately, many errors may simply go unnoticed because of poor engineering, lack of training, experience, etc.!
What are some of the latest trends that will be discussed in the upcoming training?
During this PASS training, for each applied type of analysis, we will certainly discuss the latest developments, but here I would like to mention especially the growing application of the Spectroscopic type of online Process Analyzers.
Many of the CEMS (Emission Monitoring) systems are making use of the latest spectroscopic techniques and so a full presentation on this subject is available.