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Boost Your Workforce Productivity

June 9, 2008
Mobile Connectivity Keeps Workers in Touch with the Information They Need

When it comes to enhancing overall workforce productivity, wireless technology delivers in another important way. Upfront, wireless can slash the time and effort necessary to add a new measurement point or integrate a formerly isolated PLC or tank farm.

But once up and running, wireless technology goes beyond the streamlining of engineering, integration and installation to provide an ongoing boost to the productivity of plant workers by giving them mobile, instant access to needed information wherever they might be.

Today operators can perform many of their duties from the comfort and safety of the control room—but there are still times when they have to go out into the field to collect data, check on equipment or just see firsthand how the plant is running. How can you stay in touch with operators and maintenance technicians working throughout the plant—and keep them in touch with the information they need to do their jobs most efficiently?

Put a ruggedized, wireless PC in workers’ hands, and now they can access control and asset-management systems remotely and immediately relate what they see to what’s happening in the process—and respond as needed.

That includes viewing and acknowledging alarms no matter where the operator is.

With wireless PC or PDA in hand, roaming operators can now access control and asset-management systems to relate immediately what they see to what’s happening in the process—and respond as needed.
Communications improve, too. A plant-wide wireless broadband network with VoIP technology can extend communication reach while also enabling “smart” communications—broadcasting, for example, different messages to specific teams based on the IP address of each worker’s radio.

Maintenance workers also benefit. Wireless tools such as handheld communicators let them access maintenance work orders, instructions and other information, and track or report inspections, tests and repairs immediately.

This Stuff Really Works

PPG Industries’ Lake Charles, La., facility is among those early adopters of wireless technology that already are reaping the benefits of mobile data access—as well as the speedier installation time afforded by wireless instrumentation.

“We’re currently using wireless tablet PCs in our operational units,” explains Tim Gerami, PPG senior design engineer. “Operators can go around and look at the DCS on the tablet PC. The PCs can also be used for calling up operational procedures, looking up information on an existing valve or transmitter or using AMS to calibrate a transmitter.”

At StatoilHydro’s Grane offshore platform, wireless has eliminated the need for daily visits to the wellhead to record gauge readings manually. Further, this increased process visibility already has led to operational improvements and allows unusual readings to be identified earlier.

At yet another major refinery, operators once visited the calcining unit monthly, manually logging motor-bearing temperatures, pump-casing temperatures, differential pressure across water filters and in-line pressures on chemical injection lines to detect plugging. Today, the operators still make rounds, but without an infrared gun and a manual log. Instead, they use a wireless PDA to interrogate their wireless instruments and connect to the data historian to check trend histories.

The operators’ focus is now on solving problems instead of manually reading, logging and entering data. With higher resolution to the process and more accurate measurements, the plant has improved the availability of the coking operation, streamlined maintenance activities, moved the plant to predictable turnarounds and minimized unplanned failures of expensive pumps and motors.

Maintenance workers are among those plant employees who can get more work done with wireless information access. Tablet PCs and other hand-held tools let them access maintenance work orders, instructions and other information, and track of report inspections, tests and repairs immediately.

The Emerson Mobile Worker Offering

Emerson Process Management has been providing wireless remote operations and maintenance products since 2001. The company’s products and technologies designed to enhance the productivity of mobile workers include:

For mobile operators: DeltaV Remote Operate, PlantWeb Alerts and Plant Messenger for PDAs.

For mobile maintenance workers: AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager Wi-Fi client, CSI 2130 Machinery Health Analyzer, CSI 9800 Machinery Health Imager, CSI 7100 Machinery Health Scanner, 375 Field Communicator.

For workers in dangerous areas: A number of Class I/Div 2 and intrinsically safe handhelds in various form factors to run these applications.

Emerson’s mobile-worker applications rely on rugged, wireless access points from Cisco to provide Wi-Fi coverage. The Cisco Aironet 1520 Series Outdoor Wireless Mesh Access Points are Class I, Div 2-certified and support dual-band radios compliant with IEEE 802.11a and 802.11b/g standards. Visit www.EmersonProcess.com/SmartWireless for more details.

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