Tips for Upgrading to Digital Valve Positioners

Are you ready to take your plant productivity to the next level by upgrading to digital positioners for your control valves? Your plant managers, your maintenance staff, and your bottom line will thank you.

If you’re just starting out, the digital transformation process can be daunting. But moving from analog to digital positioners doesn’t have to be difficult. These tips will help you ease the transition.

Partner with a trusted supplier

The first step in upgrading to digital positioners is to make sure you have a trusted supplier — someone who can advise you on the proper positioners for your applications, as well as provide the installation and service required to get the most out of your positioners and the valves they control.

Consider your plant infrastructure

Going digital requires more than just purchasing and installing the positioner. In this article for Flow Control, Sandro Esposito identifies some plant infrastructure factors to keep in mind, including the following:

  • Power: Digital positioners may have different power requirements than older legacy analog ones.
  • Wiring: Proper wiring is required for fast communication.
  • Loop tuning: You’ll likely need to adjust the tuning of your control loop to account for the digital positioner’s increased speed and accuracy.

Your supplier can help you assess these factors and make appropriate recommendations.

Make sure your employees get the training they need

Fear is one of the biggest obstacles to technology adoption. Fortunately, fear has an easy antidote: knowledge.

Before installing new positioners, make sure everyone who will need to interact with the devices gets proper training so they can do their work with confidence. When you purchase a Masoneilan SVI II AP from us, we can host a training session, such as a lunch and learn, to go over the options, diagnostics, and setup requirements for the device.

Don’t try to do it all at once

In an article for CEP Magazine, Janine McCormick and Steve Hagen recommend establishing a valve monitoring program as a way to get more out of your smart positioners. But, they also warn against doing it all at once:

“Do not try to start the program with every control valve in your facility. Turning on all the alerts in all your smart positioners at once is a good way to overwhelm your operations and program teams. Instead, make a list of a handful of critical valves to be monitored. It is easier to work out the process on a few valves and then expand the program slowly.”

This is sound advice for introducing any new technology into your plant. Start small, work out the process and make sure people are comfortable with it, and then ramp up once you’ve worked out all of the kinks.

Identify the data that’s most valuable to you

Just like it’s not a good idea to replace every positioner in your facility all at once, you probably don’t want to turn on all of the diagnostics at once either.

Remember that data on its own doesn’t mean anything — it only becomes valuable when you turn it into meaningful, actionable information. For each valve with a digital positioner, determine what information you need to make better decisions and take appropriate actions. Start by collecting and analyzing just that data. You can always expand the system later.

Do you have questions about upgrading to digital positioners or anything else related to your control valves? Give us a call or send us an email. We’re here to help!

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