- Analytics & Modeling - Process Analytics
- Functional Applications - Remote Monitoring & Control Systems
- Asset Health Management (AHM)
- Root Cause Analysis & Diagnosis
Reducing production losses
In 2013, the company identified a need in the maintenance and operation of its acid nitric plant to reduce production losses and improve annual production. Vale noticed there was a gap in nitric acid production from 2011 to 2012 and discovered that three pieces of equipment were responsible for the main losses, including two weak acid condensers and a compressor discharge air cooler. The condenser’s losses were due to thickness loss, lack of availability of the spare condenser, and shell cracking.
With a production loss above 14,000 tons in 15 months, Vale aimed to reduce annual loss by 10,000 tons by August 2015.
The need to improve maintenance strategies and reliability
In an effort to improve its maintenance strategies and improve reliability, Vale implemented Predix Asset Performance Management (Predix APM) (formerly Meridium Enterprise APM), specifically including the APM Reliability and APM Integrity solutions. These solutions included production analysis, thickness monitoring, and root cause analyses (RCA) capabilities.
Vale partnered with the Predix APM team to perform an RCA audit to analyze the condenser system and document failures, as well as develop strategies to prevent reoccurrence. Before the analysis of the condenser system was performed, its function was unknown and the weak acid flow was under the defined limit. The problem signified a larger challenge that the company needed more than a maintenance fix and required a cultural change to fully embrace and practice ongoing reliability efforts.
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