Smart Wireless Tackling Next Round of Challenges

Sept. 27, 2010
Smart Wireless Allows End Users to Operate Their Plants Better, Reducing Complexity and Making Their Lives Easier

"Wireless has become mainstream," declared Bob Karschnia, vice president of wireless for Emerson Process Management, at the 2010 Emerson Global Users Exchange press conference. "Customers are using wireless pervasively to gain insight and flexibility. Let me run the numbers for you."

Karschnia detailed more than 1,400 sites using IEC 62591 WirelessHART sensors, which have been operational for more than 200 million hours. "Wireless has become ubiquitous, proven and standard," he said. "Wireless sensors are mainstream, both for new installations and to retrofit the 30 million existing HART transmitters, and get additional information for better plant optimization."

Emerson has 18 Smart Wireless measurement types available today, Karschnia said, "with seven new products coming in 2011, all of which have proven integration with all eight major automation suppliers, because IEC 62591 WirelessHART is designed to be interchangeable and interoperable."

'All of this is because there is one global standard for wireless in automation: IEC 62591.' Emerson's Bob Karschnia related the growing momentum behind wireless for monitoring as well as increasing critical control applications.The company has six productivity solutions, including safety, data, backhaul and video, Karschnia added. "We have 13 tools to help EPCs implement wireless, and over 4,100 wireless experts at Emerson. All of this is because there is one global standard for wireless in automation: IEC 62591."

Wireless began with problematic monitoring applications. And now that they have been mainstreamed, the next step is problematic control applications, Karschnia said. "Nine major oil companies have chosen wireless control for over 2,300 wells. Why? Faster and easier implementation to 'first oil' in harsh remote environments with no local power, and up to 43% fewer components than traditional architectures, and with key points of failure removed. Wireless flow, temperature and pressure measurements enable better control and optimize steam flow injection."

According to Karschnia, Northstar Bluescope Steel monitors the critical furnace temperatures in its arc furnaces wirelessly, eliminating almost all of the cable and conduit, which reduced maintenance costs by $200,000 annually. "Consistent temperature operation resulted in improved safety and increased uptime," he said. Karschnia quoted Rob Kearney, Northstar's maintenance supervisor, as saying, "Better temperature control through wireless has allowed us to add up to one additional batch per day…worth as much as $200,000…and that's a significant advantage."

Wireless for control is a reality today, Karschnia pointed out. Emerson is introducing native wireless I/O points (WIOPs) for DeltaV with remote field links. Update rates have been made much faster—up to one-second updates are now practical. "The network manager now sits on the I/O card," he said. "This can be used to replace the stand-alone WirelessHART gateway and permit the data to enter the DCS in exactly the same way that native wired HART I/O functions."

In addition, those gateways and WIOPs can be made redundant for higher reliability and robustness. This makes it possible to use wireless control in far more critical control applications than previously possible.

Now, Karschnia said, Emerson is releasing wireless output devices for remote discrete I/O. The new Rosemount 702 discrete device powers a relay when it receives a signal via WirelessHART. According to Emerson, more than 2,000 wellheads are already using this device. Wireless PID control is practical, too, Karschnia said.

Rosemount also is extending Smart Wireless to non-traditional monitoring applications. Karschnia revealed that Emerson has been working with a major steam trap manufacturer to apply the Rosemount 708 acoustic transmitter, using WirelessHART for steam trap failure monitoring. New techniques are allowing the measurement of momentum on valve positioners.

In addition, Smart Wireless has been certified for security to Achilles Level One (including the wireless gateways) and has received FIPS 197 certification from the Department of Defense to permit Smart Wireless to transmit classified data.

"We introduced Smart Wireless to help our customers operate their plants better, reduce complexity and make their lives easier," said Peter Zornio, Emerson's chief strategic officer. "It is working, and we have even more to do in the coming years. The WirelessHART standard permits many things we have not implemented yet, because we don't want to get too far ahead of our customers."