Voices: Hebert

Wireless Tech for Remote Valve Monitoring

Remote Automated Control and Monitoring Reduces Valve Maintenance Issues

By Dan Hebert

Your process plant probably contains hundreds if not thousands of control, automated on/off and manual valves. Odds are that these valves are one of your main maintenance headaches because, unlike most other automation components, they contain moving parts and are thus prone to failure.  One of the best ways to reduce valve maintenance issues is through remote automated control and monitoring, using both wired and wireless technology. Wired connections between valve actuators and positioners and plant automation systems are a proven method for control and monitoring. But many existing valves don't have wired connections to the automation system, and installing these wires can be prohibitively expensive. The same is true for valves that are upgraded or retrofitted into existing process areas. In either case, wireless valve actuation and monitoring can be the best solution.

So, what's the best way to wirelessly control and monitor a valve? Ira Sharp, product marketing manager for I/O and networking at Phoenix Contact, says, "WirelessHART is ideal for short distance (generally less than 500 ft) networks for sensors because it uses a mesh network that can expand with each node being a repeater for every other node in the network. Bluetooth works well for short-distance (less than 500 ft) cable replacement of sensor cables or serial/Ethernet cables."

Sharps adds, "WLAN is good for medium-distance (1000 ft to 3000 ft), high-bandwidth applications, such as video surveillance. Our Trusted Wireless and other proprietary networks are suited for long-distance (up to 20 miles) SCADA applications. UHF is ideal for very long-distance (up to 40 miles) SCADA, and cellular is the best choice for applications where private radio will not work, such as very remote areas or mobile applications."  

Of the technologies mentioned, WirelessHART is perhaps the market leader. "Since WirelessHART is HART technology, it is simple to install and use, making implementation fast and low-risk," claims Chuck Micallef, marketing consultant at the HART Communication Foundation. "The key is to have an asset management or device monitoring application that will provide user access to the diagnostic information already in the HART-enabled valve positioner. A WirelessHART adapter can be added to any HART-enabled positioner, existing or new, extending the benefit of the installed asset," adds Micallef.

"A typical plant has 15% control valves, 25% automated on/off valves, and 60% manual valves," notes Dan Carlson, specialist for wireless sales at the Fisher division of Emerson Process Management. "The best solution for control valves is the application of adapters that access local diagnostics in the valve controller, and relay it to remote monitoring systems."

"Ninety percent of users have an annual experience where a manual valve is in the wrong position due to human error—resulting in a bad batch, environmental release or safety incident. WirelessHART manual valve position feedback can be incorporated into digital interlocks, or a WirelessHART on/off controller can upgrade the manual valve to automatic."

"Wireless valve actuators and positioners generally make use of low-power IEEE 802.15.x radios, using a combination of proprietary and open protocols with varying levels of interoperability," says Paul Brooks, business development manager at Rockwell Automation

Expect to see more and more wireless remote monitoring as time goes on. "Over the coming years, we expect the open standards Wireless HART and ISA100.11a to dominate—allowing a single wireless and asset management solution for instrumentation, actuators and positioners. Don't count out WiFi either. As companies extend their WiFi networks, and as suppliers add WiFi capabilities to their actuators, this technology may become more pervasive," says Brooks. 

More from this voice

Title

Wireless Tech for Remote Valve Monitoring

Remote Automated Control and Monitoring Reduces Valve Maintenance Issues

11/02/2011

Why calibration measurement software?

Field calibration is faster and more accurate with digital calibrators and a CMS, but there’s a catch. Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, reports on the state of the art in calibration systems for the operator.

04/06/2007

Who should do your next project? Part 2

In part two of this two-part series, Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, takes a look at how your company’s own internal capabilities and characteristics can affect automation contractor selection.

07/14/2006

Who should do your next project?

Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, takes a look at ways you can make an automation contractor selection based on project size, scope, and support requirements in this installment of Technically Speaking.

06/12/2006

What's Hiding in the Cloud?

A Factory in the Cloud Sounds Like Science Fiction, but We're Heading There, at Least for Some Applications. Here's How to Clear Away the Mist to Get the Most from This Technology

11/18/2013

Welcome to the Bus Wars, Part Tres

You may not be aware, but a new bus war is being waged in your plant — the battle of the motion networks. Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, provides analysis and commentary on the newest battle over fieldbus.

09/01/2006

Web mash-ups: 1+1=3

CONTROL Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, takes an in-depth look at a new web technology that will affect how you'll use the Internet, and how this latest trend could be applied to automation.

01/16/2006

Virtualization Technology Yields Hard Number Savings

Learn About the Benefits that Malisko Engineering and Gallus BioPharmaceuticals Are Seeing by Implements Virtualization Technology Such As PlantPAx, VMware ESXi and ACP ThinManager

04/02/2013

Valve Actuators and Positioners Go Digital

Digital Fieldbus Technologies Catch Up to Valve Actuators and Positioners

03/08/2012

User-friendly advanced control

Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, looks at the latest advances in simulation and modeling technologies for improved loop control, including new software packages and embedded APC systems.

10/26/2006

User-Centered Design at Work

User-Centered Design Theory Is Interesting, but Is Anybody Actually Using It?

03/14/2011

Use RFID to improve your automation systems

Senior Technical Editor Dan Hebert, PE, addresses RFID technology and explains how RFID systems are being lnked to process automation systems to deliver process improvements.

08/22/2005

Under the Hood with MPC

MPC Is Not Designed for Abnormal Situations. Process Knowledge Is Still Mandatory for Operators

10/31/2012

The skinny on PC-based control systems

In this column, Senior Tech Editor Dan Hebert, PE, takes a look at why a process skid manufacturer thinks PC-based control makes sense for its—and other—process applications.

05/07/2007

The right tool for the job

The next horizon for portable HMI applications may be the cell phone, which is cheap, ubiquitous, and produced in larger annual quantities than any consumer electronics device in history.

03/20/2006

The Ethernet vs. Fieldbus Cage Match

Industrial Ethernet Is Faster, Can Use Standard Wireless and Has More Topology Options

05/09/2013

The Automation PR Problem

Recruiters Face Different Problems When Trying to Hire New Automaton Professionals

07/09/2012

Technically speaking: Will standards mesh?

Reliability, scalability and mobility are the trump cards of wireless mesh networks and should result in triumph over other wireless topologies, according to Senior Technical Editor Dan Hebert, PE.

10/24/2004

System Integrators Strike Back

Product-Based Vendors Sometimes Don’t Meet Customer Needs because They Are Aiming for the Broad Market

05/13/2009

Surviving the Slowdown

This Recession Will Progress as Most Recessions Do—without 30% Unemployment, Soup Kitchens or Bread Lines

03/09/2009