Automating Daily Validations

You may be required to run daily validations like calibration drift or error checks on multiple analyzers. Automating these will speed up the process and make your job easier.

  • Streamline workload
  • Improve accuracy
  • Improve safety
  • Reduce downtime

Background

A full installation of the ESC DAS includes both software and hardware. The 8864 Data Controller hardware collects data from the monitored sources. It does the initial data validation, creates compliance averages, and stores the data locally. Then it passes the values on to the ESC|StackVision server software.

ESC DAS Diagram
 

The Process

Using the ESC DAS you can schedule automated validations and control all aspects of the daily calibration checks. The 8864 stores the exact instructions for running each sequence of phases. It marks the device as in maintenance mode and lets everyone know the test is running. It controls hardware needed, like opening and closing any solenoids for gas cylinders. Then it puts the device back in service when done. You can set alarms to notify the correct personnel if a test fails or is trending toward failure over time. You can view the test results on the data controller or in StackVision.

Passed and failed results from a heater unit daily check on zero and span.
daily-heater-cal-passed

daily-heater-cal-failed

This hands-free process is much simpler than running the tests and coding the data manually. It is also much safer when dangerous gases like the hydrocarbons, H2S and so-on must be used. It frees up time and ensures consistent scheduling and data handling processes. Monthly and less frequent tests can also run automatically. However, less frequent tests often aren’t scheduled to run without supervision. Instead, these can be pre-configured and you can initiate them from the data controller or through StackVision and watch as the data is acquired. If a scheduled test fails you can also initiate a re-test yourself. 

Automating doesn't mean giving up control. Validations/ calibration checks can be triggered to start based on external input, they can be initiated and controlled by the instrument itself and the 8864 can respond to inputs to synchronize with external control. See the resources section below for more on trigger types. 

Results

Many of our customers like to have test results available as reports in the morning or at the beginning of shifts. Reports or groups of reports can be scheduled to run automatically. They can arrive as hard copies on the printer, as emailed files, or in a network folder. Say, for example, that you have an analyzer technician just coming on shift. He or she can scan the reports for indications of problems and plan their day. If the tests passed and no devices are trending toward being out of control then they can go on to other work. This would be instead of running the validations manually before any other work can begin or possibly never getting to them that day because other urgent problems cropped up.

Portion of a report showing results of a PS-9 quarterly performance test.
Part of a PS-9 Quarterly Report

Reports are one convenient way to share monitoring and test results outside of the environmental group. You could also share info through StackVision dashboards in control rooms or directly to a plant historian or DCS.

Why it Matters

The daily calibration checks/validations are scheduled to run hands-off, are repeated the same way every time, the results are immediately and widely available and the affected data is marked. This means you should free up time, reduce the hazard, have better records and your monitor downtime should be consistently lower than when trying to manage with manual methods.  

Resources

Following are a few resources to learn more about running automated calibration checks/validations*. Contact us if you would like more information or just have some questions.

  • Using CalLab and CalGas Management (Video) - This is a quick introduction to using the CalLab feature area for calibration checks in StackVision (You can skip the Cal Gas Management section, it has recently been replaced by Cylinder Management, see the following video)
  • Cylinder Management (Video) - A recent training video showing how to manage gas cylinder inventory and associating cylinders (or expected values) with configured phases used in running the calibration checks
  • Daily and Weekly Data and System Review Check for CEMS (Article), Part of the Part 60 Lessons Learned series from Jon Konings - Power generation oriented, but useful as a frame of reference for other Part 60 facilities
  • Part 60 Calibrations - CALCHECK (Video), About the CALCHECK processing task that allows granular control over when data is marked as Out-of-Control
  • Calibration Trigger Types (Article) - What can trigger an automated calibration check/ validation to run?

*A word here on vocabulary for petrochemical folks. Many of our resources use "cal" or "calibration" and not "validation" when talking about calibration error and drift checks, and our feature area for managing these tests is called CalLab. This is just a heads-up to help reduce confusion.

Now why is this so? Petroleum industry convention is to refer to calibration error and drift checks as "validations" because a complete calibration is not being performed, just the comparison against a reference value for purposes of validating that the device is still calibrated correctly. No adjustment is being made, so it isn't a calibration.

Power Generation convention, however, tends toward calling these "calibration checks", often shortened to just "calibrations" or "cals" because, while the tests are performed "unadjusted" they are done against a reference standard exactly as in the first step in a complete calibration. For added confusion, the word validation is used heavily around data validity, a related, but separate concept. 



Current customers should contact the ESC Support Team for questions about automating validations/calibration checks.
 512-250-7901  •  support@envirosys.com

The ESC Sales Team will be happy to answer questions or provide more information about the ESC DAS if you are not yet a customer.
512-250-7902  •  sales@envirosys.com

ESC Staff    Published: 1/14/2019 7:25:10 AM

Questions about the ESC DAS?

We'd love to answer your questions.

Contact Us

New to Data Acquisition Systems?

Check out our helpful animation that teaches the basics of

What is a DAS?