By Aaron Hand
Emerson Process Management began its Smart Wireless program in 2006. Today the company has some 6,100 Smart Wireless networks installed, with about 580 million operational hours logged. The company has 17 wireless products available, with nine more planned for introduction in 2012. Some of the latest additions include the newest iteration of the Rosemount 3051S pressure transmitter and the Rosemount 708 wireless acoustic transmitter, both introduced this week at Emerson Global Users Exchange in Nashville.
These are all gateways to instrumentation, whether they're measuring temperature, pressure, level, flow, vibration or pH levels, says Bob Karschnia, vice president of wireless for Emerson Process Management. "It's really about giving our customers the tools they need to solve their problems," he says.
The technology is particularly popular surrounding energy use—helping plants to operate more effectively to reduce energy consumption, to operate more efficiently and safely, and to allow customers to reduce the risk of implementing projects, Karschnia says. "Wireless gives you the ability to optimize systems; it gives the advantages that customers need to solve these key challenges."
An example of the effectiveness of wireless technology takes place in gas and oil fields, where wellheads, flow lines and separation areas have often relied on wired approaches, requiring significant wiring, trenching, conduit runs and cable trays. "Today they go out and get a truck moving around, and it will cut wires," Karschnia says. "The system will go down, and it can take several days to get it back online." Wireless instrumentation can be implemented more quickly, and there are no wires to break, he adds.
Emerson has a complete portfolio to operate a wellhead wirelessly, Karschnia says, including such devices as on/off valve controllers, corrosion/erosion transmitters and RTU solutions. A new wireless acoustic transmitter solution also can show significant savings in petrochemical plants, monitoring steam trap leaks or monitoring pressure relief valves.
Wireless accounts for only about 4% of Emerson's instrumentation points sold today, but that is ahead of plan and growing rapidly, Karschnia says. And though not at a stage where full details can be discussed, greenfield projects are being developed that include 20% or more of all I/O content in wireless form. An offshore barge platform that Emerson has been working on is completely wireless. "We're starting to see more and more of that," Karschnia adds.