Flexible actuator functionality aids refinery automation

Paul Boughton

Wolfgang Ranft makes the case for adaptable automation in the refinery industry.

Flexible functionality is reported by AUMA as a key requirement of actuation specification by oil refineries. Two Indian installations at Mahul and Mangalore, featured in this report, illustrate how the industry’s need for adaptable automation is addressed.
A major expansion programme at the Mahul refinery near Mumbai utilised AUMA electric actuators in a range of valve automation applications. The refinery, which is the third largest of its kind in India, extended facilities to include a motor lubricant manufacturing plant and a tank farm for lube oil base stock products. Central to the brief for actuation technology was a requirement for a modular solution that could be commissioned, and reconfigured, on site without any break to service.
Reinforcing a widespread requirement for versatility in automation, flexibility is also at the heart of the design of AUMA’s actuation installation at Mangalore, which has increased capacity from 12 to 18.5 million metric tones per annum. The refinery, which lists a number of awards for excellence in export and conservation, is the country’s only facility with two Hydrocrackers producing Premium Diesel (High Cetane) and two CCRs producing High Octane Unleaded Petrol.
In common with AUMA’s support for oil refineries around the globe, the company’s role at Mangalore encompassed delivery, installation, commissioning and service support. 150 actuators were supplied to MRPL to control valve processes at a new tank farm at the site. Actuators adopted are AUMA’s SAExC multi-turn products for hazardous locations and ACExC actuator controls. The explosion proof SAExC meets a range of international standards including ATEX, CSA, FM and Indian: CCOE. 
AUMA’s modular actuation technology, with interlocking capability, provided a versatile solution which aided MRPL in supporting its highly automated procedures which process crudes of various API.
A non-intrusive version actuator was supplied to MRPL with Foundation Fieldbus functionality and parallel interface. A key reason for adoption of non intrusive actuation is the ability to set actuator parameters, such as position and torque limits, without accessing the internal workings of the device. Set-up is achieved with pushbuttons and plain-text displays at the actuator’s local controls and additional parameters - the actuators’ accessibility is enhanced by AUMA’s modular concept, which enables local push buttons to be mounted at 90 degree angles.
The adaptable advantages of interlocking were seen as highly beneficial at the MRPL scheme: as a result, the pump will only operate if the valve is open and the actuator works only if the pump is not running.
Plug and socket connector capability enhances the flexibility of AUMA’s actuation offer. As standard, AUMA actuators are equipped with a plug/socket connector for motor and control cables. The company reports that the significant advantage of this design is that, once connected, wiring remains undisturbed, even if the actuator has to be removed from the valve.
Additional flexibility afforded by AUMA actuators is the fact that batteries are not incorporated to observe actuator position in the event of power loss - as a result, staff are not required to monitor this aspect of the actuation system and, as there is no need to change batteries, the associated down-time for this procedure is avoided.

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Wolfgang Ranft is Area Sales Manager India, AUMA Riester GmbH & Co KG, Muellheim Germany. www.auma.com

Fig. 1. Modularity is key to the success of AUMA’s actuation solution at Mahul refinery.

Fig. 2. Actuator adaptability at MRPL is enhanced with a plug and socket design.

AUMA Riester GmbH & Co KG

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