Business Cases: How To Make The Case for Improved Reliability of Control Valves

2 min. read

Find out why monitoring control valves is important for improved reliability and safety. Control Valve App helps you estimate their remaining useful lifetime and plan maintenance. Explore how UReason can improve your control loop and lower costs.


It is a fact that it is difficult to prove a negative. It is easy to show how this or that action contributes to the profit line, but it is very hard to show how doing something does not take away from the profit line.

Let’s look at control valve reliability and unexpected plant shutdowns. There are hard costs associated with an unplanned shutdown. There are also follow-on consequences.

Let’s look at the hard costs. Several sources put the cost of downtime of a conventional 80,000 BPD refinery at between $350K and $1.2M, depending on the price of a barrel of oil. We also know that, for example, in 2019, according to Reuters, over 2000 unplanned outages occurred, caused by failures of mechanical equipment that weren’t on the maintenance schedule.

There are lots of reasons why those pieces of equipment weren’t on the maintenance schedule. Consider control valves. A refinery or chemical plant has literally hundreds of control valves and control loops with multiple kinds of actuators, positioners, and multiple kinds of trim and body designs. Companies make the decision to forego doing predictive maintenance on their control valves for a number of reasons. There are too many of them. There is not enough staff on the plant site. It is too costly. And based on the valve reliability history, we can afford to overhaul them at the next scheduled shutdown or turnaround. Even doing stroke testing is often overlooked because it is time-consuming, and valves may need to be removed from service—causing a short shutdown.

In essence, what the plant management and engineering and maintenance staff are doing is to wager that the plant will continue to operate without unplanned shutdowns until scheduled maintenance can be performed.  It is a wager on the control valve reliability.

As we can see, this is a really bad wager.

Here is where the potential costs tend upward. Not only does your plant lose production, but it also needs repair. An unplanned rapid shutdown, a “crash,” causes all sorts of additional breakdowns that may not be noticed or repaired. Many catastrophic accidents in oil refineries and chemical plants have occurred during startups. You simply do not have the time to check every component when you are starting up, and a crash causes a lot of mechanical stress on piping, valves, and pressure vessels. Cascading costs include accident cleanup, fines, payments to injured employees, and a host of others. It is like a classic need for an insurance policy.

UReason has an inexpensive insurance policy to apply to control valves and manage their reliability.

The key to this “insurance policy” is to know what the Remaining Useful Life of a component is. The remaining useful life of a control valve can be determined rather closely by the use of the UReason Control Valve App and the data available in the control loop. UReason has both extensive field experience and unparalleled expertise in expert systems and artificial intelligence.

UReason’s Control Valve App is a simple, stand-alone app that will take the data from the control loops you already have and use it in an AI-based analysis engine to give you insights into the valve reliability, which valves will fail soon, and when they fail. This allows you to provide inexpensive “valve life insurance” by making it possible to perform prescriptive maintenance on the control valves in your plant.

UReason has extensive expertise in valves, actuators, control loops, and the relevant processes. They’ve compiled a huge library of valves, compressors, motors, drives, fans, turbines, and other devices and their failure modes. Using the library’s data, and the data from the valves themselves, the Control Valve App uses intelligent models that combine domain knowledge and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide immediate detailed analysis of the process, the reliability, and recommendations for control valves.

In the basic app, a PDF report is the output, while the premium version can have an online dashboard and provide job orders in the maintenance management system of the plant. You can use UReason’s intelligence in a single application, like the Control Valve App, or in an enterprise version, UReason’s platform APM Studio can be used to manage all of your processes and all your varied types of assets.

The Control Valve App will allow you to switch from reactive maintenance to data-driven prescriptive maintenance using only data you already have in your control loops. Using the Valve App will reduce unplanned repairs by approximately 40%; reduce maintenance costs by 25%; and improve efficiency in maintenance by 35%. Even better, it will help you postpone significant replacements, based on the actual remaining useful lifetime of the valve or actuator.

And if the control valves in your plant do not fail catastrophically, you have saved the lives of many of the people who work at your plant.

Download Control Valve App brochure

If you want to see how the CVA works, and how you can best use it, you can download a brochure here.

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