Charmed by the snaggletooth grin of the beaming Girl Scout on Facebook, I ordered cookies again this year. There she was, in all of her prepubescent glory: my friend’s daughter, a proud Junior Girl Scout, hoping to sell hundreds of boxes in support of her troop. Heck, I had been that girl once! My fingers placed my Tagalong order before I had a chance to rethink it.

The regret came moments later when I remembered the difficulties each year: Finding a time and place to meet with the scout’s mom to make the payoff. All done so the poor parents’ wouldn’t get stuck paying for my cookie order along with cheap Uncle Bob’s and those neighbors who ordered 10 boxes but now won’t open the door. My Girl Scout lived a few hours away, further complicating matters.

Fortune intervened when I realized I’ve moved into a generation of Girl Scouts’ moms who are more comfortable with electronic payments that cash or check. A few clicks on Apple Pay and my cookies were paid for — and destined for a soldier overseas. I showed support for a budding entrepreneur, beloved family friends, our U.S. military (and economy), and an organization focused on building girls’ courage, confidence and character — without moving from my comfy chair.

What could all this have to do with process heating, you might wonder? The ease of the transaction, and the contactless way in which it was completed drove home again the transformative effects of the internet on our daily lives.

How the internet — and the Industrial Internet of Things — is transforming industrial processing facilities is at the forefront “Applying IIoT for Process Heating Applications” by Michael Risse of Seeq Corp. After describing the ways in which IIoT technologies are permeating process plants, Risse illustrates them with real-world example. A pharmaceutical manufacturer was experiencing scale-up issues with a new upstream bioreactor process. A process to analyze, visualize and report the current inputs online, and a means to combine that data with information gleaned via laboratory-scale and pilot-scale experimentation, allowed the pharmaceutical processor to quickly assess what was happening at the cell and processes levels for multiple scales and operating conditions. In particular, Risse descrives how IIoT and effective data management and analysis provided key benefits:

  • Uncovered issues related to bioreactor scale-up and provided the means to make quick comparisons of key process steps across multiple batches.
  • Performed calculations and comparisons of durations of sensitive growth periods during an intensive cell-growth phase.
  • Enabled analysis of related downstream process operations.

In effect, the pharmaceutical team was better positioned to measure, record, adjust and control key operating parameters throughout the thermal processing. What process could not benefit from that?

Elsewhere in this issue, Lonnie Coffey, Shawn Goedeke and Alex Turner of Corrosion Monitoring Services show how O2 concentration measurements in the air and gas flows of air preheaters offer insights into the process operation. The CMS team tapped process data from the process historian for time-based operational data to perform boiler and air preheater performance calculations.

Jim Griffin of Durr Systems Inc. tackles technologies for heat recovery from pollution-control equipment in “Optimizing Your Thermal Oxidizer.” Though various oxidizer designs exist to improve on energy efficiency of the equipment, thermal oxidizers remain a substantial user of natural gas and electricity. The technologies used and potential for payback depend on application-specific variables, including the operation modes of the installed thermal oxidizer. Use this article to explore whether heat recovery is an option for your system.

Finally, Neil Larson and Todd Olin of Emerson Automation Solutions compare two mature temperature-sensing technologies — the thermocouple and the RTD — and highlight the ways in which these workhorses help provide accurate temperature control in process applications. Sensors do the “hand-on” work of gathering in situ data for our data-analysis schemes. Understanding how to ensure the greatest accuracy within process applications will help ensure that the decisions based on the data gathered reflect actual process conditions.