Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Foxboro Vortex Flow Meters

Foxboro vortex flow meterThe patented family of Foxboro vortex flowmeters has the high accuracy and rangeability of positive displacement and turbine flowmeters without the mechanical complexity and high cost. Maximum rangeability up to 100:1 is possible as compared to 3:1 for a nonlinear differential pressure producer (orifice plate).

Because these Flowmeters have no moving parts, they are very durable and reliable. This simplicity of design ensures low initial cost, low operating and maintenance costs, and therefore contributing to an overall low cost of ownership.



For more information, contact:

Mead O'Brien
(800) 892-2769

Friday, July 22, 2016

Traps for Sour Gas Service

Armstrong Series 300
Armstrong Series 300
What is “sour gas”? 

In the oil and gas industry, “sour gas” refers to natural gas that is contaminated with hydrogen sulfide (H2S or “sulfide”). “Sour crude,” similarly, is crude oil that contains hydrogen sulfide. These are naturally occurring conditions, but definitely not desirable. Aside from the environmental pollution problems with “high-sulfur” fuels, there are some serious corrosion problems that can affect many materials. Liquid drainers (drain traps) and strainers are the most common Armstrong products ordered for sour gas service. A few other products are sometimes specified, notably inverted bucket air traps. An inquiry may be accompanied by an extensive specification of H2S concentrations; there may be a line indicating “Sour Gas Service;” or may only be the note “NACE.” This is a reference to Standard MR0175-93 published by the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE).

What is the problem? 

H2S under pressure permeates into the crystalline structure of the metal and strains the structure of the crystal. This reduces its ability to deform in a ductile manner. The net effect is to make the material brittle. In the presence of external stresses due to applied pressure or loads, or internal stresses due to cold working or welding, parts may fail by cracking without any warning. This process is called Sulfide Stress Cracking (SSC). SSC is affected by many parameters, including: · Composition, strength, heat treatment, and microstructure of the material; · Hydrogen ion concentration (pH) of the environment; · Hydrogen sulfide concentration and total pressure; · Total tensile stress; · Time and temperature. Choice of products and their limitations. Inverted bucket traps (primarily for air trap service) should be selected from the Series 300 traps. The bucket and mechanism (except valve and seat) will be annealed to eliminate the locked-in stresses from the stamping operations. The valve and seat will be made from Type 316 stainless, without additional heat treatment. Cast iron bucket weights are permitted, since they are not stressed in tension. Special bolting is required only if the sour environment is also outside the trap.

Download the Sour Gas Trap Selection Guide Here

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mead O'Brien VP Elevated to ISA Fellow

ISA Fellows 2016
ISA Fellows 2016
The International Society of Automation (www.isa.org) is a nonprofit professional association that sets the standard for those who apply engineering and technology to improve the management, safety, and cybersecurity of modern automation and control systems used across industry and critical infrastructure. It currently boasts 40,000 members worldwide.

Steve Huffman
Steve Huffman
Elevation to the distinguished grade of ISA Fellow is granted to Senior Members in recognition of their exceptional engineering scientific contributions to the field of automation.

Steve Huffman, VP of Sales and Marketing at Mead O'Brien will be one of the honorees at the 54th Annual ISA Honors & Awards Gala to be held on 24 September 2016 in Newport Beach, California.

Steve is being recognized for leading the effort to create the US Department of Labor’s Automation Competency Model for automation professionals.

Congratulations to Steve for this achievement and for his many years of service to the instrumentation and automation community.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Your Career in Process Automation May Just Save The World

process automation careers

Did the title get your attention?

Here's a thesis for you to consider: People entering the workforce who are interested in meaningful careers should strongly consider industrial control and automation.




Wouldn't you like a career where you could:
  • Help solve world energy
  • Help provide clean water
  • Help solve world hunger
  • Help clean and sustain the environment
  • Help meet chemical & mineral needs
  • Help provide material goods
It's a bold statement, but there's truth that engineering careers in manufacturing automation will contribute to the solutions of some of the world's most significant challenges.

The following presentation by Steve Huffman, Vice President of Mead O'Brien and Chairman of Government Relations for the Automation Federation, provides an interesting argument about the importance of people in the changing world of process automation. Enjoy.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Guide to Instrumentation for Ethanol Fuel Production

ethanol plant
Ethanol plant
Ethanol, the common name for ethyl alcohol, is fuel grade alcohol that is produced through the fermentation of simple carbohydrates by yeasts. Fueled by growing environmental, economic, and national security concerns, U.S. ethanol production capacity has nearly doubled in the past six years, and the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) projects another doubling of the industry by 2012. Ethanol can be made from renewable feedstock’s such as grain sorghum, wheat, barley, potatoes, and sugar cane. In the United States, the majority of the ethanol is produced from corn.

The two main processes to produce ethanol from corn are wet milling and dry milling.
Foxboro transmitter
Foxboro transmitter


Wet milling is more versatile as it produces a greater variety of products, including starch, corn syrup, and sucralose (such as Splenda®). However, with this versatility come higher costs in mill design, building, and operation. If ethanol is the primary product produced, dry mills offer the advantages of lower construction and operations costs, with improved production efficiency. Of the more than 70 U.S. ethanol plants currently being built, only a few are wet mills.

The efficiency of ethanol production has come a long way during the last 20 years. As more large-scale facilities come on line, ethanol producers are faced with the growing challenge of finding innovative ways to maintain profitability while this market matures. An increasingly accepted solution is process automation to assist ethanol producers in controlling product quality, output, and costs. Because sensing and analytical instrumentation represents what is essentially the eyes and ears of any automation system, careful evaluation of instrumentation, at the design phase can reduce both equipment and operating costs significantly, while improving overall manufacturing effectiveness.

The following document, courtesy of Foxboro, provides a good overview of instrumentation and the production of ethanol.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Limitorque Blue Ribbon Service by Mead O'Brien

Limitorque factory trained technicians, support and parts.  It's only factory authorized when the work is done by a Blue Ribbon Repair Center.

Your Limitorque actuators were a major investment. Don't take chances with an unknown. Choose only a Flowserve Limitorque Blue Ribbon Distributor to assure you're getting factory authorized service. It's just not worth the risk.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What is this “steam” thing?

Reprinted with permission from InTech Magazine March-April Issue
Author: Steve Huffman VP Marketing & Business Development, Mead O'Brien

This article began as a coy reply to Bill Lydon’s interesting “Talk to Me” column (www.isa.org/intech/201512talk) about Leonardo da Vinci’s accomplishments as an artist applying engineering principles to create engineered works of art. Lydon noted that da Vinci saw science and art as complementary rather than as distinct disciplines. I stated that the word “STEAM,” really STEM + art, was not a new concept. The most recent iteration started sometime within the first decade of the 21st century, gaining traction with the efforts of such influencers as the Rhode Island School of Design beginning in 2010. Lawmakers with whom the Automation Federation met while advocating for our profession on Capitol Hill saw the concept as a way to reach elementary school children who would not otherwise be interested in math, science, and engineering.

My point was why use the word “steam” and create confusion with the engine of the American industrial revolution—and still the most efficient turbine driver and heat transfer media in prominent use to this day? Ironically, I find a declining knowledge base regarding steam systems used in industry, especially in process control, as the baby boomers are now retiring at very high levels. New practitioners, automation or otherwise, who either work on or are charged with engineering or maintaining these utility systems for process are generally not well prepared from a knowledge or educational perspective. This issue really adds to the negative financial impact that poorly designed or poorly maintained steam systems contribute to product quality, throughput, and energy loss.

For the artistic, it seems someone should have realized that the word, with all its thermodynamic glory, was already taken. So is it right to add “art” to the critical-thinking process of STEM and to the engineering curriculum to add another dimension to the student’s education? A number of artists and engineers disagree, but mainly because they only view their “discipline” as a tool that makes the other “discipline” superior. In short, it does go both ways, and purists on both sides probably resent that art and engineering go together. Because we come from the engineering side of the fence, I feel that art probably does broaden the horizons of engineers, but bringing art into engineering certainly does nothing to diminish art in and of itself. As art teaches us, there are many ways to comprehend the same thing.

In my own experience with the brewing industry in St. Louis over the past 40 years, the process mix includes engineering, science, and the application of the art of brewing, which goes back to the ancient Greeks. Modern brewing evolved over the past 150 years with people from those disciplines working together, some even using the “glue” of automation to turn their processes into highly automated, high production, and sophisticated dynamos with dozens of new products released yearly, all of them starting with four basic ingredients.

I project that art in STEM (STEM+A if I were chief acronym maker) is absolutely necessary for automation professionals to better appreciate process and better visualize what the future holds. It is also essential for thinking more abstractly, and in homage to the next big thing, developing a critical eye to analyze, put to practical use, and translate from “production-speak” to meaningful “management-speak” the massive amount of data coming our way with the Industrial Internet of Things revolution of which we are on the cusp. Dealing with disruptive technologies in process and factory automation will require digital skills far in excess of what we can even see on the horizon today. It seems that steam may be creating some buzz, but in the future the real kinetic energy will be created by digital engineers.