Cisco Partnership Headlines Emerson Wireless News

For a largely invisible networking technology, industrial wireless sure is showing some serious punch lately.

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Emerson Process Management shared success stories and unveiled wireless initiatives on several new fronts at its Global Users Exchange 2007 conference and exhibition held this week at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, near Dallas.


“By delivering a combined wireless architecture from Emerson and Cisco, we are enabling our process manufacturing customers to deploy flexible, scalable and safe wireless solutions and mobility applications in rugged plant environments.” Maciej Kranz of Cisco on his company’s strategic alliance with Emerson Process Management.

Emerson not only extended its PlantWeb architecture with a variety of new Smart Wireless solutions, it also unveiled a partnership with Cisco to deliver open-standard solutions for plant network-level wireless applications. Perhaps most important, Emerson reported on seven end users who have implemented its wireless solutions and achieved significant efficiency gains, time and labor savings, and other benefits.

“A year ago, we launched In-Plant Smart Wireless Solutions and introduced our vision of the open, wireless, digital plant,” said John Berra, president of Emerson Process Management. “We’re now delivering on the wireless roadmap.”

Though users have been taking advantage of its wireless field products since the company started shipping them in December 2006, Emerson reports the market is now ready to deploy higher-performance wireless plant networks and the applications that run on them.

“Networks and mobility are dramatically transforming our customers’ businesses and in-plant processes,” said Maciej Kranz, vice president of marketing for Cisco’s wireless business unit. “By delivering a combined wireless architecture from Emerson and Cisco, we are enabling our process manufacturing customers to deploy flexible, scalable and safe wireless solutions and mobility applications in rugged plant environments.”

Emerson launched its Smart Wireless system at the field-network level last year. These self-organizing wireless field networks were designed to be easily installed and deliver value without investing in a plant-wide wireless infrastructure. Smart Wireless has demonstrated high reliability in the field by using IEEE 802.15.4 with added channel-hopping and the Time-Synchronized Mesh Protocol (TSMP).

Temperature, Level, Vibration Measuring

For example, PPG Lake Charles, Lake Charles, La., used Emerson’s wireless equipment to perform temperature profiling of plant steam headers, redundant level measurement on caustic tanks and vibration monitoring of brine centrifuges. A multi-discipline team guided adoption of wireless at the facility, and the resulting Smart Wireless network now coexists with some other wireless systems.

“When Emerson first approached me with their industrial wireless solution and told me it was plug-and-play, I have to admit I laughed,” said Tim Gerami, PPG’s senior design engineer. “Nothing I’d seen so far was that easy, but I’m a believer now. Five minutes after installing it, the wireless network came to life, and it’s been there ever since.”

Water Flow, Grease System Monitoring

Wheeling Pittsburg Steel in Wheeling, W.V., uses Emerson’s Smart Wireless to help monitor and manage coiling water flow and grease system health in its hot strip mill, and to handle cooling water flowing to work rolls in its roughing mill. Secondary systems had needed diagnostics to minimize unscheduled downtime and improve production and quality, but Wheeling found that wired devices were too difficult to install and maintain in this congested, hot environment. However, it was possible wireless components could do these jobs, and since they were installed, the steelmaker reports that downtime was nearly eliminated and productivity improved by as much as 10%.

“We’re building an infrastructure that opens up opportunities for more applications,” said Gary Borani, Wheeling’s operations manager. “The result is better information from difficult-to-reach areas of the mill, and this is helping our personnel prevent unscheduled downtime, meet customers’ quality requirements and optimize productivity.”

Checking Chemical Heat in Moving Rail Cars


Emerson’s approach to wireless includes self-organizing mesh networks at the sensor level, complemented by Cisco’s Unified Architecture (wireless as well as wired) at the plant-network level. Click here to view larger architecture diagram.

Specialty chemicals manufacturer Croda, headquartered in East Yorkshire, U.K., reports that it’s using Smart Wireless for chemical temperature monitoring in its railcars. Rate-of-rise temperature monitoring is critical for safety and plant performance, but the continuously moving cars made hardwired measurement impractical, and it was dangerous for employees to climb on top of the railcars to perform these measurements, especially in winter. Smart Wireless enables Croda to perform early detection of potentially hazardous temperature rises of chemicals and eliminates manual readings. Also, railcar positions had no effect on the wireless self-organizing network’s performance, and line-of-sight wasn’t required. Besides eliminating operator trips to the top of the cars, early temperature detection meant early neutralization procedures, which improved plant safety.

“We’ve achieved savings of $14,600 per year in reduced operations and maintenance costs,” said Denny Fetter, Croda’s I&E designer. “However, our incalculable savings were in increased safety.”

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