As I write this, the new Apple 7 iPhone is enjoying its first flush days on the market. The phone, and its larger mate, 7 Plus, have sold out globally, and I, like many others, wait impatiently for my desired model (7 Plus) to return to the stores. Fortunately, while I wait, I have the new Apple OS for my aged 5S. The massive software update added many features that promise to breathe new life even into older devices. I’ll admit — with a little shame — that the feature I’ve used most often is the gifs, faces and apps in iMessage. When you just can’t find the words, why not let Kermit the Frog biting Vincent Price on the neck say it for you?

More seriously, playing with my new-old phone got me thinking about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the data-driven technologies shaping our plants these days. Adding smart process controls and automation allows us to see and use our existing equipment in new and different ways. By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), we can better evaluate our current processes and implement changes strategically to achieve our goals.

“Chemical Processor Saves Energy and Solves Problems with Wireless,” a case history by Joerg Hamacher of Levaco Chemicals, explains how the chemical processor upgraded its plant with a network of wireless sensors to monitor steam trap performance. The facility had 250 steam traps throughout its plant, so manual rounds and hands-on preventive maintenance were not enough. Using wireless acoustic monitors, Levaco was able to monitor the traps, including 98 mission-critical devices, and proactively manage repairs and replacements. Though Levaco has not yet integrated the WirelessHART-connected devices into a plant-wide control system, it plans to do so that the company can better manage all of its resources.

Elsewhere in this issue, Dhaval Patel of Epcon Industrial Systems explores how a combination approach to process heating and air pollution control equipment can help facilities maximize their investment in every BTU produced. Thermal processing is an energy-intensive process, and fluctuating fuel costs can make or break profits on products with tight margins. At the same time, air pollution regulations require that the hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) created and emitted by heat processing equipment be controlled. Patel explains how combination systems, which approach the design of the ovens and pollution control equipment at the same time, allow plants to reuse and repurpose as much heat as possible to minimize fuel usage and keep emissions below compliance levels.

Also, Wesley Young and Steven Panz of Inproheat Industries explain submerged combustion and how to use it at your plant. If your process involves difficult-to-heat slurries or wastewater streams that require evaporation, submerged combustion provides high thermal efficiency compared to conventional indirect heating and can result in lower energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Thermal fluid heating also involves indirect heating, and Heather Bateman of Radco Industries Inc. explains how to extend the life of your thermal fluids in her article. Partial fluid changeouts, filtration and reprocessing can extend the fluid’s working life. It is important to remember, however, that all effective heat transfer fluid maintenance begins by ensuring that the system was properly designed and the fluid was selected appropriately.

P.S. If you’re upgrading your phone — or even if you’re not — don’t forget to download Process Heating’s mobile app. Find links to the Apple Store and Google Play versions on our website at