An end-to-end IoT solution produces scalable results for industrial plants.
Since the beginning of time, ravens have guided sailors and explorers—gracefully representing prophecy and insight.
Before GPS technology was invented, sailors would travel with a cage of ravens. When they felt like they were close to land, the captain would release one of these intuitive birds. If it circled above the ship, they knew that they were still many miles offshore. But if the raven took flight in a certain direction, the captain would follow it directly to land.
Even in Biblical times, the raven was a messenger that collected wisdom, knowledge, and clarity. After 40 days and nights, Noah released a raven from the Ark window. It flew back and forth until the waters dried from the earth.
In mythology, the raven is equipped with the knowledge to guard and protect—and with the power to see into the future.
It’s for these symbolic reasons, combined with its familiar red branding, that Flowserve chose RedRaven as the symbol for its suite of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) products, software, and services—designed to improve plant efficiency, productivity, and reliability with smart technology.
The Development of RedRaven Technology
Francesco Gasparri began his career in Italy 16 years ago as an aerospace engineer, but soon switched to process engineering as a Flowserve project manager in Milan for oil and gas industry projects (including refineries and petrochemical). After six years, he began working in the aftermarket business helping end-users upgrade existing pumps. He is now the Global IoT Commercial Manager, Marketing & Technology for Flowserve Corporation and has been working for a decade on IoT concepts and development. “Ten years ago, the acronym IoT didn’t even exist,” Gasparri remembers. “Flowserve had acquired a business unit in Houston that made wireless sensors that would collect data from the field and transfer the data to a very basic online portal. This is how I started my experience in IoT. I found it very interesting, which is why I’m still involved in it.”
Two years ago, Gasparri became the Global Product Manager for Flowserve’s IoT business and has been working on RedRaven ever since. The RedRaven IoT platform launched in early 2021.
Deriving its power from Flowserve’s engineering expertise in fluid motion and control, its advances in analytics, diagnostic and predictive capabilities, and the limitless connections and speed of the IoT, RedRaven is a transformative technology that represents a new generation of IoT services.
“I looked at all the commercial strategies on how to approach customers with our IoT solutions,” Gasparri explains. “And then at the end of January, we finally launched the full IoT concept.”
Gasparri describes the inspiration for the RedRaven name.
“We wanted our IoT solution to have a name that was unique and one that also gave customers the feeling about what it is. In mythology, the raven was a messenger. It is a bird that could bring either good or bad news. But, of course, even bad news can help you when it comes to predictive analysis. If you know it upfront, bad news can be transformed into positive information.”
The first concept of RedRaven is to get information from the equipment installed in the field and be alerted if there is any problem. This allows Flowserve customers to take action.
“For example, you can avoid a major failure on a pump or avoid production loss for the chemical plant or the water pipeline or the refinery,” Gasparri explains. “So, the first aspect of the raven is the fact that it is a messenger. The second aspect is that it is considered a very clever bird.”
RedRaven Services include predictive analytics technologies that have been developed from Flowserve’s more than 200 years of experience with pumps and seals.
Ravens are also considered guardians. “The raven protects his home,” Gasparri says. “This IoT solution protects the equipment and helps to avoid failures. In the Tower of London, there are ravens in the garden .” The raven is traditionally believed to protect the Crown and the Tower. A superstition is that if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall, and Britain with it.
Unique Features of RedRaven
RedRaven is a complete end-to-end solution. “We are no longer talking only about sensors, or only about predictive analytics, or only about remote monitoring. Many companies can do this, but they are focused only on one aspect,” Gasparri explains. “Flowserve supports our customers, and we can define for them the best technology to get data from the field. Then we build a secure network to transfer the data to the Flowserve cloud-based platform. Then we add our expertise of 200 years of experience.”
Flowserve has created a monitoring center which includes a team of specialists to support customers in understanding the information they collect so they can take valuable and informed actions. Before its official launch, RedRaven was tested in the field for the past two years and has many examples of its success.
“At a small power plant in the United Kingdom, we deployed our newest wireless system to collect data,” Gasparri explains. “My colleague went on-site and in 20 minutes, the wireless sensors transferred data on our Cloud platform. We started monitoring the pumps and on December 23rd, just before Christmas, we saw a sudden increase in the vibrations on the pump. We immediately informed the customer, and they realized that they were operating the boiler at an increased temperature to normal operating conditions, and this caused the higher-than-expected temperatures in the pump. The system was able to collect these changes in the behavior of the pump. We recommended that the customer switch off this pump and utilize the standby pump. This allowed the customer to operate the power plant without any trouble during the Christmas break. No permanent damage has occurred in this episode. Without our demonstration kit with RedRaven technology, they wouldn’t have been able to detect the problem and they would have continued to operate the same pump until a major failure occurred.”
Flowserve’s RedRaven technology includes these features:
- Predict equipment behavior. Respond to problems quickly and minimize disruptions and downtime. Use trend analysis data to make informed decisions about plant-wide reliability improvements.
- Refocus maintenance efforts. Focus on those assets that require attention, therefore avoiding unplanned downtime and optimizing maintenance efforts so you spend less time evaluating healthy equipment.
- Enhance equipment efficiency. By knowing where all your assets are on their respective pump operating curve, you can optimize for maximum efficiency.
- Reduce costs. Reduce total cost of ownership by easily recognizing when to schedule equipment maintenance and reducing spare part inventories.
- Improve safety. By alerting technicians to a problem and what the failure mode might be, the RedRaven platform helps them respond to performance issues quickly, limiting the time they spend in hazardous environments.
RedRaven sensors are certified to be installed in any area of a refinery or chemical plant—even in areas that are classified as potentially highly explosive. A signal can be sent with a wireless, fully encrypted transmission at more than a one-mile distance in a plant. With exceptional cybersecurity protocols, data can be communicated to a user’s home with trends and alerts built-in.
With 30-minute data intervals, batteries of the remote devices can last for four years. However, if a problem exists, data can be transmitted every five minutes, depending on the severity of the issue.
The predictive analytics are based on engineered algorithms to model the behavior of the pump. As soon as the system is installed, it will start to analyze the predictive data.
The Future of Smart Technology
With most people carrying smart technology in their pockets every day, humans are more connected than ever. Smart technology used in industrial facilities is growing, but at a slower pace.
“Industrial users are still quite concerned about the concept of transferring data from their local network to the Internet to the Cloud and sharing data with others,” Gasparri explains. “This is something that will certainly slow down the acquisition process of IoT technologies. However, I see the trend changing. Two years ago, it was totally impossible to have a conversation with a big refinery, for example, about incorporating a solution like RedRaven. Today, they want to discuss it with us. They want to understand how it works. They still need to get a lot of approvals from their IT departments about data sharing, but it is changing. Another aspect of why we decided to provide a full end-to-end solution is because we are responsible for the entire data flow, and we can apply all the best technologies to guarantee the cybersecurity of the data.
The sensor without the data transfer and secure storage is not a full solution, Gasparri says. “Some companies are still afraid of smart technology. In most cases, we need to collect vibration data from the rotating equipment and this is not really critical information from an intellectual property point of view, but still there are concerns about doing that. And big corporations have very strict policies in terms of data security and IT. There is some concern about starting an internal process to get the approval to change these internal rules and these internal policies. That’s why it will take time. But the benefits will certainly overcome the risk.”
End-to-end IoT solutions like RedRaven allow users to see the data from their equipment in the field without physically being in the plant. It is not restricted to only Flowserve equipment and can be retrofitted. In the near future, RedRaven solutions will also be used for valves and seals.
Since Gasparri could not have imagined this kind of smart technology 10 years ago, what does the future of smart technology look like?
“I really think that a lot more equipment will be connected to these end-to-end IoT solutions,” he says. “It will be very easy to get a lot of data. The problem today is that you still don’t have enough data from right equipment in the field. Four years from now, it will be very easy to get data. The problem will be what to do with all this data. That’s where all the predictive analytics algorithms will become more and more important because the amount of data will be so high that you need to have some artificial intelligence technology to make a first screen on the data. And then you must involve specialists and technicians to analyze a smaller set of data. This will certainly be the next step in the future.” Everything about RedRaven is also available on the website: www.flowserve. com/iot
About the Author:
Michelle Segrest is President of Navigate Content, Inc., a full-service content creation firm. She has been a journalist for more than three decades and specializes in covering the people and processes that make a difference in the industrial processing industries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to her podcast about the Factory of the Future.