Tom O'Banion Headshot

Tom O'Banion
Director of Industry Differentiation, Micro Motion

It is my pleasure to welcome Tom O’Banion as a member of the Flow Control Editorial Advisory Board. I encourage you to read the following short Q&A for some insights from Mr. O’Banion to gain perspective on the wealth of knowledge he will bring to Flow Control magazine and FlowControlNetwork.com. But first, allow me to tell you a bit about our newest EAB member.

Mr. O’Banion is the Director of Industry Differentiation for the Micro Motion Division of Emerson Process Management, and he brings with him 30 years of professional experience, 26 of which have been spent at Micro Motion, a leading supplier of Coriolis flow and density measurement solutions.

Mr. O’Banion previously worked for Conoco Oil Company and Kellogg, Brown & Root. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado and an MBA from the University of Denver. Mr. O’Banion has expertise in process engineering, safety instrumented systems (SIS), density/concentration, greenhouse gas compliance, and smart meter verification. He holds two U.S. patents for Coriolis and Sizing/Selection tools.

Mr. O’Banion is also a retired triathlete and competitive Masters runner.

As a member of the Flow Control editorial advisory board, Mr. O’Banion will be a regular contributor of technical feature articles, blog posts, and pier review in the area of flow and density measurement.

The following short Q&A provides a little more insight on Mr. O’Banion’s background and his thoughts on applications and technology.

Q: What are the top 3 applications you are involved with in your current role? What are some interesting aspects of these applications and the role technology plays within them?

A: My most recent focus has been on working to have our Smart Flow Meter Verification accepted/recognized/approved by third-party agencies. Recent examples include AGA-11, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Greenhouse Gas, and exida, et al., for Safety Instrumented Systems.
 

Micro Motion Smart Meter Verification
Mr. O'Banion has been heavily involved in the development of Micro Motion's Smart Meter Verification system, which is designed to provide the user confidence in measurement integrity and performance—from the sensor through electronics—in less than two minutes.

In all these cases, what is most interesting is that despite the long-term stability of the Coriolis flowmeter’s accuracy, work-practices, habit, or contract terms have continued to require calibration or proving that is more frequent than is really of value. For many companies to consider work-practice changes, recognition by an independent “third-party” is required in order to facilitate the change. Customers around the globe have clamored for help in driving these changes in their standard operating procedures.

With smart technology, calibration frequency can be extended—saving money and also boosting plant personnel safety.  The flowmeter stays in the line and operating while being verified.  We see this as a trend across flow technologies—ultrasonic has speed-of-sound checks, and magmeter, vortex and thermal flowmeters also have their versions of meter verification, along with Coriolis. Users can now safely get more data on meter health and accuracy than before, at a fraction of the cost and limiting operator/tech exposure.

READ ALSO: Coriolis Flowmeters for Gas Measurement

Q: What do you see as the leading technology trends in industrial engineering over the past 5-10 years? How have these trends changed the landscape of how systems are designed, operated and maintained?

A: The main trend I’ve seen is for field devices to be equipped with increasingly useful diagnostics. These diagnostics can not only remotely check the health and accuracy of the device, but also reveal useful insights about the process. A good example would be the desire to detect two-phase flow in a line or system.

Another major trend is for greatly extended operating hours between scheduled shutdowns or turnarounds. At Emerson, we regularly hear of 8,000-plus operating hours between major scheduled maintenance, which drives the need for heightened device reliability and the need for better “forensics” while the device is in-line operating.

Q: Looking ahead, how do you see the industrial engineering technology and/or application landscape changing over the next 5-10 years? How will the industrial systems of tomorrow be different than those of today?

A:Increasingly, vendors will strive to provide more useful, real-time actionable information. Historically, there has been a tendency to err on the side of a large volume of information versus the “most important few” diagnostics. As sensors become less expensive and more reliable, more real-time information can be generated, allowing real-time mass balances, accounting for fluid movement and quality.  With so many chemical complexes having multiple owners operating within the battery limits, there is more measurement and accounting than ever before. Likewise, many companies now have contracted out their tank farms and terminals to others. This drives the need for more and better measurement. We also see an increasing adoption and comfort with wireless technology to extract information from more remote parts of a process plant or mill.

Matt Migliore is the director of content for Flow Control magazine and FlowControlNetwork.com. He can be reached at Matt@GrandViewMedia.com.

Follow Matt on Google+. Connect with Matt on LinkedIn.