The Hart Communication Foundation has selected the Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (Japan’s largest chemical manufacturer) ethylene plant located in Kashima, Japan, as recipient of the 2009 Hart Plant of the Year Award. The award is given annually to recognize the people, companies and plant sites around the globe that are using the advanced capabilities of Hart Communication in real-time applications to improve operations, lower costs and increase availability.

Mitsubishi Chemical is using the Hart Communication capability of over 800 interoperable field devices integrated with their DCS and asset management systems through multiplexers and Hart-enabled I/Os to access real-time continuous process variables and diagnostics. By accessing this real-time intelligent data they are able to diagnose abnormal process conditions and track equipment health 24 hours a day. As a result, peak production performance has improved with an estimated operational savings for the plant of $20,000-$30,000 USD per day.

Diagnostics also are used to uncover device failures before they affect the process. It is estimated that two or three device failures have been detected that would have caused unplanned shutdowns. An unscheduled plant shutdown costs an estimated $600,000 USD in lost production per day with a minimum production restart time of 5 days ($3 million USD total savings).

“Diagnostic parameters that help detect signs of an abnormal situation or degrading performance are difficult to obtain with simple handheld devices because they require a time-consuming, manual, step-by-step approach,” says Takayuki Aoyama, team leader, instrumentation group, Mitsubishi Chemical. “Hart technology made it possible to access this data without manual operation. This made it much easier for us to gather data and detect abnormal situations from field devices and has reduced maintenance costs by 10 percent.”

In addition, trending and analysis of secondary process variables throughout the plant provide process insight that has allowed plant engineers to analyze, troubleshoot and resolve a number of operational problems including plugged impulse lines, an unstable flow profile, and an inefficient compressor pump.

“We have designated Hart as our standard communication protocol and will replace (older) devices with Hart-type whenever we get a chance,” says Takayuki. “We use Hart communication to collect online data from our field devices without disturbing the 4-20mA analog signal to the control system. Our goal is to detect abnormal situations in the process and protect field devices from malfunctions.”

“Mitsubishi Chemical is a perfect example of how the power of Hart can be used to lower costs, improve plant availability and help keep a plant competitive,” says Ron Helson, Hart Communication Foundation executive director. “We congratulate Mitsubishi Chemical on their innovative use of Hart Communication in applications that not only benefit their company, but also serve as a powerful model for industry users worldwide–a working illustration of how to realize far greater benefits from Hart Communication than ever before.”

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