Electrical, instrumentation and control engineering and installation project management provider Proconics is involved in thermoprocessing equipment projects that will result in safer, more efficient burner management for the local combustion energy industry.
“In our experience locally, the first step driver is to conduct a compliance investigation or measure emissions concentrations and establish a current status,” Proconics principal engineer Elizma van der Walt tells Engineering News. She adds that the combustion energy industry can then formulate a roadmap towards regulatory compliance, reduced emissions and a cleaner industry.
Van der Walt says the large quantity of ageing equipment in the majority of local industries has increased demand for refurbishment services. Combustion equipment renewal projects address reliability, personnel safety and environmental compliance issues that are common among antiquated combustion systems.
She adds that, in the current economic climate, efficient thermoprocessing equipment is beneficial not only in terms of environmental compliance but its use reduces downtime and creates potential for improved energy efficiency, as well as reduced operational, feedstock and energy supply costs.
She states that: “In our involvement with clients, an important focus for us is to marry the optimisation and compliance requirements with the minimisation of impact on existing operations.”
Often, she explains, the existing supporting control and safety systems have also reached their end of life, resulting in an increased need for project integration of legacy system replacements, compliance, efficiency and optimised retrofits.
Van der Walt states that Proconics has noticed an international trend of increased focus on the categorisation of burner management systems (BMS) as safety instrumented systems,and the consequent application of IEC 61511 and IEC 61508 specifications on functional safety.
The trend is also noticeable locally, with South African legislation already referring to IEC61508-3 as the required standard for programmable logic controllers (PLC) design for thermoprocessing equipment, she adds.
The South African National Standards (SANS) have mirrored the IEC 61508 standard, with SANS 61508 now available locally, Van der Walt points out.
Moreover, owing to international legislative pressure, control system manufacturers have moved to include standard functionality that makes it easier for operators to adopt world best practice.
Proconics has seen substantial changes in this landscape over the last few years – ranging from new international entrants into the South African market to improvements technology providers have made in their own products to make implementing world-class solutions easier.
Van der Walt explains that this expansion of options has complicated its clients’ decision- making, and many simply lack the internal resources to successfully navigate themselves to a desirable end-state. We are increasingly experiencing clients approaching Proconics to assist in developing coherent response strate- gies. She adds that the company is able to use its subject matter expertise and technology independence to develop landscapes and roadmaps that best serve the complexities inherent in hazardous area operations.
Meanwhile, Van der Walt states that Proconics has been involved in projects spanning the complete spectrum of combustion equipment – from large control and electrical system upgrades and integration on multiple boiler trains to complete gas reticulation systems and burner retrofits on process heaters. It can also offer complete solutions – from feasibility, auditing and landscaping to fabrication, construction and commissioning, she adds.
“Our experienced project teams have a proven record in BMS upgrades, refurbishment, design and construction.”
Proconics’ service offerings include full engineering, procurement and construction execution; engineering and design; and project management. The company also offers procurement, construction and commissioning support services, which can range from relay replacements, ignition equipment and field instrumentation upgrades to gas reticulation piping systems and complete solution.
The company’s front-end and detail engineering capabilities comprise SANS 329 audits by certified gas practitioners and analyser design experts, safety integrity level studies by certified functional safety professionals, as-building, interpreting existing relay and PLC designs, software and systems specification and integration, instrumentation control as well as electrical design, she elaborates.
“Our engineers facilitate technology selection and registration of replacement equipment in compliance with the safe gas equipment scheme,” says Van der Walt. She explains that the company has partnered with reputable burner manufacturers and combustion experts on burner design to provide a streamlined single point of interface for the client.
“We pride ourselves on our specific expertise in dealing with legacy systems and complex brownfield integrations, often with limited changeover windows.”
Van der Walt emphasises that Proconics “ensures a well-engineered safety solution” through the emphasis it places on personnel safety, which is illustrated by the staff’s proposing and integrating all projects’ functional safety studies, in addition to the SANS 329 type audits carried out by the company.
In describing the company’s approach to auditing tasks, she concludes that Proconics tries to work with its clients to develop specific personalised solutions that are compatible with existing systems, maintenance strategies and availability of local support.