Effective calibration ensures top quality instrumentation
18 Dec 2019
The long-standing relationship between materials expert Solvay and process automation leader Endress+Hauser proved crucial to a business where calibration matters.
Advanced materials and specialty chemicals company Solvay acquired Cytec to form a global business unit to provide solutions for the manufacture of high-quality, high-performance complex composite structures used in sectors including oil & gas.
In 2018, Solvay which already operated Solvay Composite Materials site in Wrexham opened a second site in the town, transferring adhesive production from one of their sites in the US, which led to an increase in process instrumentation and calibration demand.
As well as the company having to comply with regulations governing the chemicals industry, its customers regularly carry out their own audits to ensure everything is up to scratch.
Being able to rely on the accuracy and repeatability of process instrumentation is vital. Reliable calibration is essential
“They expect you to have full control of your processes,” explains site engineering and capital manager Ben Pine. “We’ve got to be able to demonstrate time after time that the calibration is correct, that we’re making products exactly the same.”
Being able to rely on the accuracy and repeatability of their process instrumentation is vital for the engineers at Wrexham. Reliable calibration of the instrumentation used on site is essential.
Endress+Hauser has had a relationship with Solvay for 25 years to provide and maintain much of the instrumentation used on site. The service contract was extended in 2019 to incorporate the new adhesive facility, and an Endress+Hauser calibration engineer now spends two weeks every month at Solvay.
Solvay does not schedule routine shutdowns for maintenance, so being able to rely on a mobile calibration service is a big advantage.
Explains Pine: “We’d never consider sending flowmeters off for calibration in a lab because we’d have to have a spare here to keep the line running. Our inventory costs would go through the roof.”
The on-site support is complemented by the calibration management software CompuCal and the W@M Portal, Endress+Hauser’s asset management tool.
“It’s easy to use, and we’ve got all of our instruments and our certificates in there. It links through to the W@M Portal which tells us which products are now obsolete, so from a maintenance perspective we know which need replacing and what to replace them with.”
Outsourcing calibration to Endress+Hauser frees up the on-site engineers to deal with breakdowns and planned maintenance reckons Pine.
“Having the same person who comes to site every month is a real benefit because he knows the site, he knows our people, he follows our processes and he doesn’t need his hand held. I know that everything will be calibrated on time and there’ll be no obstacles or issues.”
The software helps to ensure that all standard operating procedures (SOPs) are followed and calibration records are easy to access.
“When we have an audit, I can feel con dent that we will be compliant. The calibration engineer does what he says he’s going to do, and our contracts manager has regular touch points and makes sure we’re happy.”