Extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing a layer of impermeable shale is called Fracking. Fracking has significantly advanced the amount of natural gas produced in North America. Frac sand is a key component of the fracking process. Frac sand handling systems and automation controls are necessary to ensure efficient delivery of sand to the well pads. The below video explains the fracking process.
A main ingredient in the fracking fluid is sand. Frac sand is a special type of sand. This is because the sand grains left behind during the fracking process hold the fractures open. This enables the extraction of the natural gas. The building of frac sand facilities provides for the distribution of the sand by truck to the fracking well pads. Bringing the frac sand to the facility is by railcar and is then transferred from railcars to silos for distribution. Unloading frac sand from the silos into individual trucks for delivery to the well pads. Sterling Systems is a leading supplier of frac sand handling systems, process controls and plant automation for frac sand facilities. Railcar unloading, truck filling, and alarm handling are key components of frac sand handling systems.
Railcar Unloading – Frac Sand Handling Systems
The frac sand facility receives frac sand by railcar. Sterling Systems & Controls automates the unloading of railcars and storage of frac sand into silos. Graphical screens show the automated process whether the technology used is a PC or an HMI. Sterling Systems describes the operation, including step-by-step instructions, by providing documentation of the frac sand handling systems.
Truck Filling – Frac Sand Handling Systems
A truck Loading system is a component of frac sand handling systems. The frac sand truck loading screen graphically displays the equipment used in the truck loading process. The system screen uses color to indicate equipment status on the truck filling screen. If the equipment is running in the automatic mode, it will be light green. If the equipment is off it will be dark grey. When it is running in manual mode the equipment will be light blue. If the equipment is in the automatic mode, but idle, it will be seafoam in color. The automated truck loading process and its controls are also shown. Sterling provides a comprehensive step-by-step instruction manual.
Equipment Status and Alarms
Frac sand handling systems need to monitor equipment status and conditions as well as system alarms. When the system detects an abnormal condition that requires the operator’s attention, it will raise an alarm. An Alarm Banner will appear on the screen indicating what the problem is and when it occurred. Press the Acknowledge button to remove an individual or all alarms. Press the Silence button to silence the PC and alarm horns. Also included are Alarm history and equipment status screens.
Sterling Systems provides electrical and control panels with HMI, PLC, etc. to perform frac sand handling systems functions. In addition, Sterling is a UL listed control panel builder for the USA and Canada.
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