Posts Tagged thermocouple failure
If you use thermocouples in high-temperature applications, you’re aware of the issues thermocouple drift can cause. Thermocouples drift. It’s not a question of IF, it’s a question of WHEN. And thermocouple drift costs processors time and money in processing errors, waste, downtime, and lost production.
Thermocouple drift occurs due to metallurgical changes of the metal alloy elements over the extended use of the sensor. Thermocouples can drift by as much as several degrees per year.
There’s no such thing as a fail-proof thermocouple. Over time, thermocouples fail. To compensate for that, a temperature controller will normally go into upscale burnout mode, and drive the furnace burner to low fire or turn down the SCRs. But then, you have to deal with the downtime, rework, or even the potential of losing product.
Not long ago, a plant operator called to see if there we had a way to work around this burnout mode, so he wasn’t wasting time and materials.
His heat treat load had almost finished its final soak when the control thermocouple broke open. The controller, as expected, drove the furnace burner to low fire. The operator then popped the controller into manual mode, so he could nurse the load through the remainder of its soak cycle. He used the temperature reading on a recorder, fed from a second, unbroken thermocouple in the protection tube as temperature indication for the load.
If the situation had happened in the middle of the night, it may not have been handled with the same attention the day-shift operator had provided.
So, he asked if there was any way to have the controller automatically “fail over” to a second thermocouple.