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Real-Time Monitoring of Circulating Water-Cooling Systems

09.08.2021

Project Introduction 

As an intrinsic part of the energy industry, petrochemical plants operate many pieces of equipment, often in environments with high ambient temperatures. Therefore, a highly efficient circulating water-cooling system for heat dissipation is needed to ensure stable operations. Also, it is crucial to have a smart solution that can improve the efficiency of the water-cooling system. The circulating water-cooling system in this case comprised heat exchangers, cooling units, water pumps, and other related equipment, and it adopted a water recirculating method to perform its task. During water recycling and reuse, if heat exchange parameters, such as water temperature, water pressure, and water level, are not well controlled, mineral deposits or limescale can occur, which reduce the efficiency of the heat exchanger. The impact is not only on operational efficiency, but also on unnecessary energy waste. Once the worst-case scenario of a cooling system crash occurs, this would lead to downtime for the entire plant. To monitor the various parameters of heat exchangers in real time and execute the best operational strategies while reducing the rate of scaling, a large petrochemical plant deployed Advantech’s edge intelligence solutions to build a smart real-time water monitoring system that not only improved overall equipment efficiency and life span but also greatly reduced labor requirements while advancing the plant toward full autonomous operation.

Project Requirements 

Before deployment of the smart real-time water monitoring system, the water temperature, water pressure, and water level of the equipment could not be monitored remotely in real time. Even though staff regularly inspected the status of the circulating water-cooling system at each site, it was still very difficult to ascertain the overall health of the equipment. In addition, when the parameters needed to be adjusted, staff had to go physically to the site and adjust them manually. Due to the plant area of being over 700 square meters, this process was very time-consuming and laborious. Hence, the company urgently needed a total solution to collect data from the heat exchangers in real time and visualize useful information through dashboards, which also gave them complete remote monitoring and automatic control functions.

Solution Offerings 

In response to the project requirements, Advantech integrated an EIS-A215 Edge Intelligence Server, an EIS-A230 Private Cloud Solution, and the DeviceOn/iEdge I.App to deliver edge-to-cloud IoT solutions for a smart real-time water monitoring system for the petrochemical plant.

Edge: The EIS-A215 is a high-specification and highly stable server that satisfies the environmental requirements of the site. The plant environment did not allow for the application of a wired network; instead, Wi-Fi was employed for data collection and transmission from sensors. Advantech’s solution provides a high-specification and powerful edge gateway that can work stably under conditions of high ambient temperatures, humidity, and dusty environments.   

Private Cloud: The EIS-A230 is a highly scalable and compatible cloud platform that enables the rapid deployment of smart applications. The EIS-A230 introduced in this project adopts open Kubernetes (K8s) and built-in MongoDB/PostgreSQL multi-database, supports a microservice architecture, and offers high scalability and compatibility. This allowed the plant to achieve its goal of remote equipment management and control in a highly secured operating environment. This modular platform will also enable the rapid deployment of additional smart features whenever needed in the future.    

Smart Application: The DeviceOn/iEdge I.App analyzes data and presents visualized charts and graphs in real time. With the goal of realizing management optimization, this project utilized the DeviceOn/iEdge I.App GUI management tool integrated in the EIS-A215 to develop various intelligent control and management functions. DeviceOn/iEdge gathers sensor data in the EIS-A215 and performs real-time calculation and analysis at the edge. The processed data at the edge is uploaded to the EIS-A230 and then converted into charts and graphs in real time by the EIS-A215, enabling the control center to instantly and clearly grasp the status of the heat exchangers. When the water level, water pressure, or the water temperature require adjustment, the system automatically opens or closes the water pump gates to release pressure or discharge water in the heat exchangers.

Solution Benefits 

  • Automated control reduces the need for manual operation. Continuous deployment of additional smart applications in the future will help achieve the goal of fully autonomous operation. 
  • The smart monitoring system achieved reasonable water consumption, which in turn reduced the rate of scaling, thereby slowing corrosion and improving the lifecycle of the circulating water-cooling system and related equipment. 
  • Automatic optimization of heat exchanger parameters in real time has improved the efficiency of the circulating water-cooling system.