industrial worker at chemical plant

A leading manufacturer of consumer and industrial chemicals experienced difficulties during regular turnarounds of their tubesheet reactors: The multipoint thermocouples used to measure reaction temperatures were found to be damaged after every operation. With the help of a WIKA USA field service specialist, who offered customized solutions after onsite observations, the customer saw a vast improvement in the efficiency of their turnarounds.

A thermocouple is a robust, accurate, and cost-effective sensor used for electrical temperature measurement. It works by delivering a voltage that is used to determine temperature profiles. Multipoint thermocouples detect localized heat concentrations and record complex temperature profiles in reactors.

Challenge: Thermocouple Unable to Withstand Routine TA Operations

A prominent U.S. manufacturer of chemical products discovered a recurring issue during regular turnaround (TA) operations of their reactors, which take place every six weeks to six months. The tubesheet reactors, which contain 1- to 2-inch tubes filled with catalyst, are used to produce amines, surfactants, maleic anhydride, and other specialty chemicals. To ensure even catalyst distribution and process flow, the tubes are first individually checked to determine pressure drop. Then, at the start of each TA, a technician inserts a multipoint thermocouple (TC) into each tube to measure reaction temperatures during the operation.

TCs are normally very robust, but these particular multipoints were unable to survive the rigors of a TA, placing an unnecessary financial and downtime burden on the company. After a series of TC failures and replacements, the customer reached out to WIKA USA for advice and assistance.

Solution: Improvements Based on Field Service Specialist’s Onsite Observations

To find out more about the problem, WIKA dispatched a field service specialist – one with experience in tubesheet reactors – to observe the next TA. He quickly identified issues with the installation and routing of TCs, and made several suggestions to better protect the sensors. These WIKA best practices included changing the inlet routing and the inlet routing protection tubes, as well as revising the installation sequencing to better protect the TCs.

Results: Increased TC Lifespan, Efficiency, and Cost-Effectiveness

After implementing the field service specialist’s suggestions, the company was able to greatly extend the multipoints’ lifespan. Now these temperature sensors last several turnarounds and are replaced only as needed, rather than after each use. The company estimated that WIKA helped them save more than 50% in their expenditure for TCs.

The customer saw firsthand the difference between generic instrumentation fixes and the expertise of trained specialists with real-world experience. By targeting the root cause, the WIKA field service specialist saved the chemical company significant time and money. Consequently, the customer has committed to replacing all TC bundles in their tubesheet reactors with WIKA multipoint thermocouplesand using WIKA field services.

The Benefits of WIKA USA Field Services

The goal of field services is to provide specialized instrumentation solutions to unique problems under the guidance of top experts in the field. In line with WIKA’s reputation for quality assurance and reliability, our field services offer the following:

  • Pre-shutdown instrumentation audits to identity failed products and recommend suitable replacements
  • Onsite calibration and repair of pressure and temperature instrumentation
  • Supervision and installation services for tubeskin, multipoint, and downhole temperature measurement sensors
  • Commissioning services for all WIKA manufactured products and represented brands

For more information about temperature measurement solutions and expert field services, contact WIKA today.

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