FLOWING TO THE CHALLENGE: Process media’s top obstacles

Turning process goals into efficient systems is the art of being intentional

As aspirational and leading edge as process engineers may want to be, the physical reality – and economic constraints – of handling materials is unavoidable. To anticipate the challenges ahead, Kinetics’ globally deployed teams’ start at the beginning with system design.

These systems comprise chemical and blend delivery, slurry delivery, gas and UPW and water purification systems as well as valve manifold boxes.  Across varied-but-connected design requirements are five guiding principles that put a sense of focus and intention at the center.

Principle #1: Safety, safety, and more safety.

The environmental integrity of media distribution systems – including operator and facility staff protection – are always a concern. Sometimes, intervention is needed to correct a problem. Here, ongoing situational awareness training for all staff is critical, as are buddy-system contingencies.

Principle #2: Performance metrics are the start, middle, and end.

Often, the impossible trinity of “faster-better-cheaper” is embedded in the expectations surrounding a step, stage, line or entire plant. Experience dictates that pinnacle metrics of any of these need to be dialed back by 2-7% to account for variances in materials, operating conditions, and control.

Principle #3: Avoid the assumption of too much system stability.

This has nothing to do with the efficacy of the design, quality of components, or competence of installation. Even with recently- or regularly-qualified materials, a combination of minor variances can affect output levels and quality. This requires system thinking, SWOT or GAP analysis, as well as contingencies attached to the team’s findings.

Principle #4: Triple-check the thinking around process control.

Even as artificial intelligence looms on the horizon, the ability of more sophisticated sensors, valves, temperature management, pressure level, and other controls to meet process goals has its limits. Determining the right balance between process and monitoring automation in harmony with operator intervention must be documented and defensible.

Principle #5: Assess the line’s agility and adaptability.

Dedicated systems must, intrinsically, carry some elasticity to adapt to even the slightest variances in the operating environment. Materials technology advances test the ability of any process to adapt and flow with changes. This capability must be designed into the initial system and calls for the extended team’s expertise to be evaluated on the basis of ability to anticipate and respond. This applies to both internal staff and outside contractors.

Email sales@kinetics.net to learn more about Kinetics’ ability to supply Process Media Distribution Systems.