Archive for category Troubleshooting
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.
A customer who had had lots of experience with Milltronics and Siemens ultrasonics was installing his first SITRANS LR560 radar level transmitter. They had worked with it in the shop beforehand, going through most of the settings. They even tested it by setting it up to shoot against a file cabinet and used a tape measure the check the indicated distance value.
Everything checked out OK in the shop.
When they installed the transmitter on the top of the bin, they changed the transmitter’s sensor mode parameter from the distance mode they used in the shop for testing to level mode. After aiming, the level value shown in the local display was dead nuts on, but the 4-20mA signal going back to the control room was way off.
The bin was a third full. The 4-20mA showed it about double that. Not only that, the 4-20 was going in the wrong direction. The bin was emptying and the HMI reported an increasing level value. Someone realized that an inverse-acting output was typical of a distance value, so they reconfigured the sensor mode to distance. That got the 4-20mA much closer to a distance value, but it was still not exactly what it should be, and besides, the goal was to read level, not distance, in the control room. What was going on?