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Energy Conservation Part 5 – Innovation

Posted on January 24th, 2017 by in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence


Instrumentation and control professionals are knowledgeable in various disciplines and are typically in a good (and sometimes unique) position to improve the utilization of energy in their plants.  This may seem like a bold statement but consider the breadth of knowledge required of an instrumentation and control professional — instrumentation, control, heat and material flows, heat transfer, piping, pumping, valves, mechanical, chemistry, combustion, electricity… to name but a few.  In addition, instrumentation and control professionals have varied backgrounds to include electrical, chemical, mechanical, physics and civil engineering which means that they can bring their individual perspective and background to bear on issues.

Think about what happens in the plant when there is an operational problem to be sorted out.  If something is obviously broken, the operators will call an electrician, mechanical or HVAC specialist to fix the problem.  However when this is not the case, the operators call instrumentation and control professionals to diagnose the problem.

This is not to suggest that instrumentation and control professionals should run energy conservation groups per se.  However instrumentation and control professionals are at the nexus of various technologies and should be an integral part of such groups.  Understanding that most energy-saving technologies are multi-disciplinary in nature, instrumentation and control professionals can utilize their diverse backgrounds to improve energy efficiency — if only to provide ideas for other disciplines to implement.

For example, a variable speed drive could be considered a piece of electrical equipment and/or a final control element that can affect the electrical, mechanical and chemical nature of a process.  As such, its application could easily be overlooked if a person knowledgeable in only one discipline considers its application.

Let’s discuss a more holistic approach in the next post.

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All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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