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MOL Refinery realizes key benefits with WirelessHART

Source: Gábor Bereznai and Gyula Ötvös, MOL

Mar 29, 2016

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At the MOL Group’s Danube Refinery in Százhalombatta, Hungary, we set out to profit with HART technology in 2002, and only three years later, decided to overhaul our maintenance systems with a new, unified asset management system (AMS) strategy. The combination of the two technologies changed the way MOL runs maintenance, and the way we look at diagnostic data.


MOL Refinery Photo 1

The MOL Danube Refinery received the HART Plant of the Year Award in 2010 for its demonstrated creativity in the use of HART devices. The refinery made the decision to install HART-enabled intelligent field instruments as part of a maintenance strategy to increase operational availability. In this article, we would like to highlight how we started to utilize WirelessHART and its possible future at the Danube Refinery.

MOL subsequently enhanced its asset management capabilities by employing the power of WirelessHART® technology. This approach provides access to valuable diagnostic information for enabling predictive maintenance strategies. Field-level data can also provide huge amounts of valuable information if mined and brought up to higher levels and put into perspective. Users can visualize and evaluate the data, and ultimately take action based on the information to prevent shutdowns, lower operating costs, reduce maintenance expenses, and become more predictive in how plants are run.

The first WirelessHART system at the Danube Refinery, consisting of four wireless thermal transmitters in Crude Distillation Unit 3 (CDU3) and a gateway station to receive their signals, was installed in 2009. Our system has been dynamically expanding; currently, six wireless gateways receive signals from a total of 32 devices throughout the refinery. The technology was tested in an arc-welding environment in the early phase, and both the WirelessHART transmitter and the gateway functioned faultlessly. Also, we tested several manufacturers’ products on the same network and determined they could work together without any problem.

In 2015, the use of wireless technology was included as a new chapter in MOL standards specifying the technical requirements for installation and use in the field for different applications. According to that chapter, wireless technology has been approved for diagnostic and measurement purposes at MOL. Wireless technology is typically employed for measuring temperature and corrosion rates. The system has the benefit of moderate installation cost, fast set-up and flexible upgradability. Approved WirelessHART applications maybe expanded in the future based on further testing and experience.

Additionally, the Danube Refinery is seeking to apply wireless technology in the course of system integration. In several cases we have witnessed that existing field instruments equipped with 4-20 mA and HART communication have advanced intelligence and diagnostic features, but the available Distributed Control System (DCS) input-output (I/O) interface is not HART-enabled, which prevents communication from reaching the Field Instrument Maintenance System (FIMS).

The replacement of I/O interfaces would be rather costly and could only be completed during planned unit shutdowns. That is when we use WirelessHART Upgrade Modules (also called WirelessHART adapters) connected to field instruments to transmit HART communication to a particular gateway. With the TCP/IP option, fitting gateways into the FIMS is extremely flexible and simple, and gives us access to important information.


MOL Refinery Photo 2



In 2016 or 2017, MOL plans to launch a FIMS Upgrade project at the refinery level, when we will integrate an additional 100 control valve positioners of key importance to the maintenance system using the aforementioned methodology—thus realizing the on-line performance diagnostics of these critical assets and further improving our preventive maintenance practices. The refinery will also leverage the value of robust diagnostic data at the enterprise level, with information delivered by the facility’s SAP system for staff review on a daily basis.


MOL is an integrated, independent, international oil and gas corporation, headquartered in Budapest, Hungary. MOL has operations in over 40 countries and employs almost 29,000 people worldwide. MOL exploration and production activities are supported by more than 75 years experience in the hydrocarbon field. At the moment, there are production activities in eight countries and exploration assets in 13 countries. The Group operates four refineries and two petrochemicals plants, under integrated supply chain management, in Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia. It also owns a network of over 1,700 service stations across 11 countries in Central & South Eastern Europe.