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Radar level technology improves petrochemical manufacturer processes

The Micropilot FMR51 radar prevents false alarms and overfills

Radar measurement
Micropilot FMR51

Control system engineers and SIS team leads carry the responsibility of ensuring efficiency, safety and accuracy in their processes. Although they have different roles, both groups are affected when a challenge or issue emerges. One large petrochemical manufacturer faced this challenge when their radar level instruments quit communicating with the control system.

This was a concern for both the control system perspective and the safety and field maintenance perspective – communication issues could result in tank overfills and increased labor expenses.

Old radar level technology failed to communicate to control system

The petrochemical manufacturer uses radar level instruments on many of their tanks to monitor fluid levels. However, the instruments on their water-cooling tank and sump tank had stopped communicating to the control system properly. This resulted in 1,000+ false alarms and firmware update alerts per day.

These excessive alarms were overwhelming the control system and hindering operators’ efforts to view and act on real alarms in a timely manner. Operators decided to turn the alarms off and to take measurements manually.

However, this required operators to take daily measurements from each tank. Depending on the measurement readings, the team lead would also have to drain the tanks before running the radar to see if any obstructions were detected. This was time consuming, and a handheld communicator did not work well for tank mapping. They needed an easier and more efficient way to manage tank levels.

Simple configuration for seamless communication

The petrochemical company contacted Endress+Hauser’s sales and service partner, Vector Controls and Automation Group, to explain their challenges. Andy Nall from the Vector team recommended the Time-of-Flight Micropilot FMR51 for the application. He explained how Endress+Hauser puts all instruments through live tests to ensure compatibility with DCS/PLC platforms and showed how important this is for seamless communications.

field xpert tablet paired to radar level technology
Field Xpert SMT70 tablet

Nall demonstrated how easy mapping, configuration and set-up could be accomplished when using the Field Xpert SMT70, a tablet PC platform with a full screen display. Nall also walked plant personnel through a step-by-step setup wizard to commission and configure the radar.

Remote tank monitoring reduces overfills and improves safety

Since utilizing the FMR51 and SMT70 smart tablet, the communication challenges have been resolved. The new radar level technology eliminated the time-consuming manual measurement and tank mapping, which in turn reduced the risk of overfills and ensured plant safety.


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