In a press conference held today at 2008 Emerson Global Users Exchange, BP and six other end users of Emerson Process Management’s Smart Wireless technology described the real-world benefits already being achieved in many different industries around the globe.
Natalia Kroutikova, technology leader, BP Refining Technology, was first up. She described the first ever industrial mesh network installed at BP’s Cherry Point, Wash., refinery. In 2005 and 2006, BP collaborated with Emerson on installing 15 wireless temperature transmitters in the calciner unit. These transmitters monitor bearing temperature on ID and FD Fans, which cost up to $100,000 to repair and can be down for up to 10 days when they fail catastrophically. Other Smart Wireless temperature transmitters are monitoring calciner coke output—to avoid melting the rubber in the conveyor belts.
“This is wireless on a large scale and it works.” Natalia Kroutikova of BP Refining Technology described the company’s successful use of wireless in a growing number of applications.
“In 2007,” Kroutikova said, “we began a 45-transmitter tank farm management network in Naperville, Ill., near our Technical Center outside Chicago. We are monitoring suction, discharge, level temperature and flow for crude feedstock storage, crude mixing for pilot plant feed and residual crude management and storage. This is wireless on a large scale and it works.”
“We expect to upgrade all these installations to WirelessHART,” Kroutikova went on, “and we are planning other installations at refineries in North America, Europe and Australia. We will continue to collaborate with Emerson on expanding applications and further development to broaden wireless product range.”
A year ago, at the 2007 Exchange, Emerson announced a Smart Wireless Customer Innovators Award. A panel of five end users from a variety of market verticals was selected to judge the twenty submissions. There were two awards, one for “Most Innovative” and one for “Business Results.”
The “Most Innovative” award went to Croda Inc. for a project Emerson has discussed before: mounting wireless temperature transmitters on railroad tank cars so they can be monitored as they are shuttled around the plant rail yard. Denny Fetters of Croda said that this application was simply impossible to do at all with conventional wired transmitters.
The best “Business Results” came from CFE LAPEM, the laboratory analysis group of Mexico’s Federal Electrical Commission, in Guanajuato, Mexico. Oscar Martinez Mejia, chief of thermal systems for the Department of Services to Power Generation, discussed the application. LAPEM uses Smart Wireless to temporarily connect the self-organizing wireless measurement network to make key thermal efficiency measurements to optimize each power unit. With wired networks, the process requires 15 days per power unit and overall, the five lab groups can only cover 50 units per year. Using Smart Wireless transmitters, one of the lab groups was able to reduce turnaround time from 15 days to 10, or 10% faster, representing additional service revenue of $512,000 in addition to improved power production.
Three other finalists for the Innovators Award also presented Smart Wireless applications from very different industries.
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Jeff Taylor, process control engineer, pulp and bleaching departments, of papermaker Boise Inc. talked about a very different application for Smart Wireless—the instrumentation of eye-wash and safety-shower stations. “We wanted to increase safety in what we call ‘chemical alley,’” he said. “Not everybody has radios, and contractors are loading and unloading dangerous chemicals all the time. Unfortunately hardwired monitoring was cost prohibitive.”
“Basically, we connected a button to a transmitter, which wirelessly sends the alarm from the button to the gateway, and then via OPC into the alarm management system,” he said. “The system has been operational since March 2008, and the only system downtime we’ve had was due to the OPC server and not to the wireless network.”
Carlos Augusto Souza de Oliveira, instrumentation supervisor for USIMINAS, one of the top 20 steel producers worldwide, and owner of Latin America’s biggest flat steel complex, described the application in the company’s Ipatinga, Brazil, steel mill. “We put temperature transmitters to monitoring bearing temperature,” he said. “Overheated bearings can cause unexpected shutdowns, most of which last for at least 6 hours, causing 6 million metric tons of lost production.”
These assets are subjected to extremes of temperature, water, oil and grease, he noted, and hardwiring of transmitters for monitoring was impractical. “Data is delivered to our DCS using OPC,” Souza de Oliveira said.
Genzyme Corp. produces enzymes to help treat rare diseases, and Jim Albert, process control engineer, introduced his company’s Smart Wireless achievement. “We store our products in cold rooms, and our insurer suggested back-up monitoring to protect them, because they are expensive, temperature-sensitive biologicals. We were collecting the cold room and tank farm data manually because hardwired transmitters were too costly,” Albert said. “So we bought a SmartPack Starter Kit and just installed it. It was low risk because it didn’t involve a shutdown or a process change.”
Emerson chief strategic officer Peter Zornio discussed the shift to WirelessHART products, the first of which shipped last week. “We’re shipping pressure, flow, level, temperature, vibration and pH transmitters with WirelessHART standard,” he said. “The Smart Wireless Gateway is now WirelessHART, and we’re shipping a ‘lite’ version of AMS Device Manager with every gateway. A new AMS Snap-On that allows users to configure and monitor their wireless networks, based on years of best practice data, is optionally available for the gateway manager.”
The AMS Wireless Snap-On allows users to easily plan and manage their networks using drag-and-drop device icons on plot plans or images of the plant. The Snap-On shows visually whether or not the device will connect to the rest of the network, and when the network is in operation, it provides power module status and communication diagnostics, including network health information.
Zornio went on to say that DeltaV now has a native Wireless interface, as does Ovation. There is also an extended range antenna that boosts the range of a transmitter to around a half mile. “There are also Mobile Operator Tools shipping now,” Zornio said.
In doing a live demo of the Smart Wireless network installed in and around the Gaylord National Resort, Emerson vice president of wireless, Bob Karschnia, made the distinction between wireless sensor networks served by WirelessHART and wireless plant networks based on 802.11 and done in partnership with Emerson’s strategic partner, Cisco. “Some people will stop at the field network, because there is still substantial value to be had there,” Karschnia noted.
The six end users took questions from the audience. In answer to the question, what percentage of field transmitters would be wireless in the future, Jim Albert of Genzyme said, “We have existing fieldbus infrastructure, but where we can use wireless instead of extending our fieldbus network, we will.”
The panel was mixed about using local power instead of batteries. Souza de Oliveira and Fetters noted that their applications would not be practical with even local power wiring. Jeff Taylor of Boise said that one of the very largest cost savings came from not having to wire anything, not even local power. “Emerson came in 60% below our estimate for this project,” he said. “No wires.”
And what about using wireless for control?
“BP doesn’t recommend using wireless transmitters for critical control,” Kroutikova said, “but this doesn’t mean we won’t ever. Ask me again in two or three years.”