Far From Quiet on the Wireless Front

From Power-Gen to Petrochem, Fiber Production to Gas Distribution, Wireless Field Networks Continue to Prove Their Process Automation Mettle

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Despite the economic downturn of recent months, the global application of wireless field networks continues apace. Indeed, today’s economic realities are in many ways a perfect fit for wireless: With capital at a premium, process manufacturers are looking for quick investments that cost little and save even more. Or, for cost-of-doing-business applications such as for satisfying regulatory requirements, they’re looking for solutions that will help them toe the line as quickly, easily and cost-effectively as possible.

In the course of this article, we’ll visit seven industrial sites around the world – all of which have turned to Emerson Process Management’s Smart Wireless field networks to cost-effectively enable compliance, boost productivity, improve safety or increase reliability (and sometimes a combination of all of the above!).

Predictive monitoring enabled at Total

Our first stop takes us to Total Petrochemicals in Carling, France, where Rosemount Smart Wireless temperature transmitters provide the information needed to infer changes in boiler wall thickness. The boiler provides steam for the plant’s cracker, and monitoring wall thickness enables personnel to anticipate when the boiler might need replacement.

 

Wireless Monitoring
‘WIRELESS MONITORING FOR NOW, CONTROL APPLICATIONS NEXT’
For Total Petrochemicals in Carling, France, wireless mesh network technology has proved itself an essential alternative to running new wiring or relying on ageing infrastructure.

By going wireless, Total Petrochemicals avoided the need for a kilometer of new wiring, while reducing the need for personnel to move into and around at-risk areas.

“Our plant is more than thirty years old,” explains Jerome Uszes, electricity control & regulation maintenance manager for Total Petrochemicals. “With the rising cost of copper and the ageing of existing wiring—from corrosion, infiltration, armature degradation—it’s essential to find alternative methods to carry data throughout the plant.  We believe in wireless technologies and Emerson is a pioneer that is on the right track to offer a solution that meets our needs.”  

This non-critical monitoring of the boiler walls presented Total Petrochemicals with the perfect opportunity to evaluate Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology on a large scale and in a real industrial environment. The application would also enable the company to determine the current limits of the wireless devices and to direct future developments made by Emerson’s research and development department.

“We were very pleased with Emerson’s responsiveness. Delivery, installation and a successful startup was completed within just ten days of our order,” says Uszes.

Water usage monitored at E.ON

Across the channel at the E.ON Kingsnorth power station, a 1940-MW unit located on the Medway Estuary in Kent, U.K., Smart Wireless technology is helping to accurately monitor and measure treated water usage.

“E.ON is keen to adopt the very latest technology to help improve productivity, efficiency and availability, and wireless technology provides the ideal networking solution to access the flow measurement data from the turbine building without having to install new cabling,” says Chet Mistry, E.ON UK team leader.

Having initially undertaken extensive trials of Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology, E.ON selected the Emerson solution because it offered high levels of reliability and long transmitting distance, as well as the ability to add additional devices to the network without the need for additional infrastructure.

“We have great confidence in the technology. The self-organising network provides redundant routes for the data to pass back to the gateway. The resulting wireless mesh network delivers high reliability, “says Simon Lark, C&I engineer, E.ON UK.

“We were initially a little skeptical of the claims made for wireless, especially considering the environment we would be placing it in. But installation was quick and easy and we just switched them on and they all worked,” continues Lark. “The gateway is situated in a windowless room within the main building. Despite being totally surrounded by brick walls, when switched on the wireless transmitters were all clearly visible and immediately connected to the gateway.”

“This initial installation of wireless is providing us with valuable experience,” adds Mistry. “We are now hoping to be able to use this experience to apply the technology to a range of applications including accessing valve diagnostic information.”

Remote reactions tracked at Nu-West

At Nu-West Industries’ phosphate-based fertilizer plant in Soda Springs, Idaho, U.S., a self-organizing Smart Wireless system is tracking 16 pressure and temperature points on a reaction tank located about 250 feet from the central control room.

 

Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology was selected by Nu-West, a subsidiary of Agrium US, because it proved to be the easiest to install, most secure, and most reliable solution to the problem of retrieving essential operating information at an extended distance. The remote tank is 40 feet high and has four different beds of gases used to react with certain process chemicals. Even though this is not classified as a hazardous area, the tank layout and distance involved made running wires to the tank and mounting instruments both difficult and expensive.

“Hard wiring this installation would have been very challenging due to the location of the vessel,” according to Brian Wood, DCS specialist at the Nu-West plant. “The self-organizing architecture was the clincher since less than perfect line-of-sight to each device is not a concern with this system. We already have plans to add more devices to the network.”

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