Archive for category Troubleshooting
Everyone agrees that it’s good practice to keep a record of configurations and setups for any field instrument. I’m constantly recommending it to our customers for their transmitters, controllers, recorders, and other complex configurable devices.
Siemens clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters even have a system in place to make this process easy. By connecting the meter to a PC through the RS-232 serial port, you can use a terminal program and the SITE command to fetch a data file that holds all the instrument’s configuration data.
The terminal program can also be used — with a set of instructions specific to the flowmeter — for viewing real-time operational data, performing device setup, uploading logger data, or uploading configurations known as SITE setups.
Recently, I was called to visit a plant and look at a misbehaving flowmeter. From previous discussions with the operator, I knew he’d saved SITE setup files for every flowmeter installed in the plant.
I asked if the customer would e-mail me the setup file before my visit, so I could check out how the flowmeter was set up. My request was met with a chuckle and “Well, if you really think it’s worth it…”
Recently, we’ve run into a few radar level applications that had some startup challenges, mostly because the person installing the transmitter didn’t consider how radar wave transmission would affect the level transmitter’s performance.
One trick to any installation is to reduce the number of obstructions encountered by the transmitter. But you have to take into consideration that radar waves don’t transmit in a concentric circle around the transmitter. And this can create a problem of its own.
A while ago, I got a call from a customer who was having trouble with a differential pressure transmitter. He was using a draft range DP transmitter to measure the pressure in a combustion chamber, so it could be controlled with a damper. He had one port connected to the combustion chamber with impulse tubing, and the other (low side) was left open to the atmosphere.
He’d noticed that when a fork truck or other vehicle sped past the furnace – the transmitter was mounted next to a traffic lane — it cause the furnace pressure to momentarily dip downward, and cause the damper to oscillate.
He figured out that the air movement provided by the passing vehicle was creating a momentary pressure pulse on the low side port. These air movements were creating difficulty in maintaining furnace pressure.
So, he asked me, “How can we dampen the effect of the momentary pressure pulse?”
Recently, a refinery customer came to use with a level application. Our team determined that it would be a perfect fit for radar level gauges, IF they turned on a Siemens radar algorithm called CLEF, that would let the radar measure accurately all the way to the bottom of the tank.
What is CLEF? How does it work? And why does it matter?
Recently, a customer noticed that the Siemens ultrasonic level measurement system he had installed in a storage bin showed a signficant amount of moisture buildup. At extreme temperature changes (like we’ve seen a lot latele here in the Midwest), there’d be moisture buildup on the Echomax ultrasonic transducer, sometimes so severely, they’d have problems from signal loss.
How could they fix it? One quick trip to the local big-box or auto supply store provided a Siemens-supported solution.
It was bound to happen sooner or later.
I took a call from a customer who needed to replace a garden variety differential pressure transmitter… with one exception: He needed Honeywell’s DE digital protocol for communicating to his DCS. The DE protocol is still great, but since so many installations today use HART or Foundation Fieldbus, all of our in-stock pressure transmitters had a HART communication card – a critical mismatch to what the customer needed.
A year ago, we would have been stuck rush-ordering a unit from the factory, with all the attendant delays and expediting charges, because you couldn’t swap out a comms card without making the transmitter’s hazardous approval invalid.
What could we do?
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When you’re making programming changes to a field device, you don’t always have time to wait. Here’s a hidden feature that helps you speed up the process between Siemens SIMATIC PDM and HART field instruments.
Normally, when you’re using PDM software, it takes a minute or so to upload or download changes to and from your HART devices. Seems like an eternity when all you need to do is change a range.
So, I’m going to let you in on a feature you might not have seen before.