PLA set up a basic high-speed Ethernet radio link at an Indian alumina refinery running a bank of PLA SmartDivers on their settlers and washers. For the first time, the process engineers and CCR operators were able to view the tank profile (suspended solids vs depth) in addition to the level measurement information on two of their primary clarifiers. Armed with this information, the operators were immediately able to diagnose a settling issue with their tank not available when using simple 4-20mA “clarity / interface / mud” discrete measurements for which they have been accustomed.
The settlers had been operated with a minimum of interface to reduce overflow clarity issues. On this day, we got the SmartDivers diving far deeper into the tank and into the rake interference zone. This allowed the operators to set a fixed value of interface level lower than they had previously been able to control. Simply, it stopped the situation where every time interface came up, they would hit the tank with more flocculent to get the interface down… but how far down? Too far down and they would crash the filter building with excess floc. Not enough floc and they would suffer overflow clarity issues, again negatively affecting filtration.
The combination of the lower dives and the ability to monitor the tank profiles in the control room on a dedicated PC over a very basic high-speed ethernet radio had the tanks immediately in far better shape.
This was all possible with the existing SmartDiver architecture plus the addition of some essentially domestic ethernet radios (cost total $100) literally stuck to the PC and cable tied to the diver and a CAT-5 cable to second diver allowing both tanks to be monitored.
PLA will clearly ruggedise this installation for the client but even this very simple almost zero cost solution provided an insight into the process never before available to this rising star alumina facility.
It also shows the can-do philosophy of PLA and it is well in line with the new PLA “we’re ready” campaign. PLA pre-empted the fact that more information was required by this site and had spare ethernet radios on hand for this exact reason… just in case. The customer did not know that this facility existed. They did not request it but during commissioning of a couple of new SmartDivers on the washer train, the empowered PLA technician, backed by the team at the factory ready and waiting to assist, said “why not” and set the little network up and the rest is history.
Follow more “we’re ready” stories on the PLA website over the coming months.