After a combined 80 years working with sampling systems, industry experts Tony Waters and Phil Harris reflect on the problems they've seen most
In this video Tony Waters and Phil Harris discuss recurring maintenance problems, fundamental design issues, and hidden issues that hamstring customer operations. Get in touch for a collaborative, expert evaluation of your system by our team.
Fluid system operators use grab sampling—aka spot sampling or lab sampling—to validate process conditions, check whether end products meet quality specifications, see if online analyzers are fit for use, and ensure product quality during custody transfers. It can also provide verification of environmental emissions.
In all of these uses, capturing a representative sample is essential. But at some plants, recurring maintenance issues hamstring operations.
“Some of the installations, the customer’s been experiencing problems that require maintenance technicians to go and work on the device frequently, over and over, perhaps called out in the middle of the night or later on a weekend, because there’s been an issue with the analyzer,” says Phil Harris, an ISA Analysis Division Fellow and industry veteran who's authored numerous papers on analyzer systems, routinely presents at industry conferences and technical seminars, and brings extensive experience in nuclear energy, oil refining and alternative fuels applications.
Fundamental design issues are remarkably common, too. Those can lead to fluids being where they shouldn't be, or vice versa.
“[A design flaw] that comes to mind that we see all the time is that a line is supposed to be heated... but we find that it’s only half heated or not heated at all or the heating’s turned off," says Tony Waters, "or sometimes just the opposite: the thing is so hot that it’s causing the samples to polymerize or decompose in some way.”
Waters, who like Harris is an ISA Analysis Division Fellow, brings over 50 years of experience with process analyzers and sampling systems to his numerous training programs, which have been presented in many countries. He has also founded three companies and has worked in engineering and marketing roles for an analyzer manufacturer, end-user and a systems integrator. He periodically leads the Process Analyzer Sampling System (PASS) Course here in Edmonton.
Then there are cases of onsite pros not knowing that a process analyzer isn't doing its job—which might be the riskiest scenario.
“A process analyzer can actually look like it’s working but actually be doing nothing that’s valuable to anybody," Waters adds. "For instance, the time delay that we see on systems is quite enormous sometimes. Sometimes we’re talking about hours or even days of delay before they actually get the measurement.”
Three ways we can help you with sampling systems today
- Schedule an assessment. Improve your sampling systems reliability with expert, in-depth evaluation of your sampling systems, from tap to grab sample station
- Use our Grab Sample Product Selection Matrix. See a summary of common system criteria and the grab sample system recommended for each combination
- View our Grab Sampling Systems Application Guide. Browse the Swagelok grab sample system configurations available