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"Pervasive Sensing" to Reach Far Beyond the Process

Oct. 3, 2013
Three of Emerson Process Management's Customers Showed How They're Using Pervasive Sensing Solutions
About the Author
Jim Montague is the Executive Editor at Control, Control Design and Industrial Networking magazines. Jim has spent the last 13 years as an editor and brings a wealth of automation and controls knowledge to the position. For the past eight years, Jim worked at Reed Business Information as News Editor for Control Engineering magazine. Jim has a BA in English from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and lives in Skokie, Illinois.

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Wireless networks will be the highway for a new generation of pervasive sensors and analytical software applications that will give Emerson Process Management's customers the ability to make a far broader range of useful and profitable decisions.

The executive leadership of Emerson Process Management described the company's vision of "Pervasive Sensing"—and three customers showed how they're using Pervasive Sensing solutions—during a press conference, "Conquering Complexity: Pervasive Sensing for Actionable Information," Monday afternoon at the 2013 Emerson Global Users Exchange.

"We want to make sure we're a listening organization, and show we can work with our customer to solves their toughest problems," said Steve Sonnenburg, president of Emerson Process Management. "Our customers are traditionally vigilant in optimizing their plant performance and keeping them safe, but there are other areas into which they haven't had as much visibility. There's an increasing emphasis on other business-critical issues, such as equipment reliability, environmental concerns, energy use, security and personnel safety. The cost of monitoring these areas has been dropping due to wireless technology, and we're now reaching an inflection point that we're calling Pervasive Sensing."

"Pervasive Sensing changes the game in site safety." Emerson's Tom Moser on the new potential for more affordable, ubiquitous sensors to do far more than transmit process variables.

Peter Zornio, Emerson's chief strategy officer, added that everyone seeks actionable information, whether it's for improving personal health or picking good investments, but these efforts are often incomplete or unsuccessful. However, unlike these other endeavors, Pervasive Sensing's automated technologies will give its customers far more widespread and complete health visibility.

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As a result, the traditional process-critical functions of process control and process safety will now be joined under Pervasive Sensing's umbrella by business-critical functions of site safety, reliability, energy efficiency and others. "Because keeping applications and facilities up and running was the top priority, it was usually seen as too costly to add more sensors for monitoring business-related issues, but wireless makes doing this simpler and cheaper. Big data is now available," reported Zornio. "Pervasive Sensing will provide users with real-time information on all aspects of their plants, and so we believe it will more than double today's $16-billion traditional sensing market."

In essence, Pervasive Sensing is founded on three pillars:

  • Innovative sensors that are multivariable, non-intrusive and cover wide areas;
  • Easily commissioned components that are wireless, self-powered and configuration-free;
  • No-maintenance devices that are accurate, calibration-free and have lifetime reliability.

This foundation delivers its huge amounts of new data to a Strategic Interpretation level, which sorts through it by using sensor awareness functions, new algorithms, industry knowledge and human expertise. Finally, this interpretation level presents its findings to users at the Actionable Information level.

"In fact, the value of business-critical sensing is already being realized," added Zornio. "We know of a next-generation process plant that's currently deploying wireless infrastructure and growing measurements by 60% for business-critical applications, which is above and beyond the 20,000 process-critical process control instruments it already has. These include 2,000 personal safety measurements, 8,000 reliability measurements and 2,000 energy measurements."
 "Pervasive Sensing changes the game in site safety," added Tom Moser, president of Emerson's Rosemount Measurement division, in introducing three Emerson users already using instrumentation technology to enhance safety, save energy and increase equipment reliability.

For example, Richard Clarke, maintenance team lead for Spectra Energy's PTC Pipeline division, reported that its Empress plant and pipelines in Saskatchewan produce up to 2.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas and resulting liquid products, and then stores much of it in mile-deep salt caverns. Spectra's problem was that shelters protecting surface valves and other devices also collected any gas leaks into dangerous concentrations.

Removing the shelters solved one problem, but introduced others. "Our legacy, single-point, catalytic bead detection technology was effective when the cavern wellhead was contained, but it wasn't effective without the enclosure to contain leaks because the detector may not sense leaks in fluctuating open-air conditions," explained Clarke.

As a result, Spectra adopted Emerson's Incus ultrasonic, wide-area gas monitoring and detection solution, which identifies the background noise produced by any leaks within a 40-meter radius and is field-proven to overcome any environmental performance challenges.

"We installed Incus last fall, and we've had great results," said Clarke. "It performed flawlessly in all-out, high-frequency leak tests."

On the reliability side, Nick Jude, rotating equipment reliability engineer at Flint Hills Resources (FHR) refinery in Pine Bend, Minn., reported that a recent process hazardous analysis (PHA) found 100 high-risk pumps that were at risk for vapor-cloud releases and potential fires. So Pine Bend fitted 110 pumps with Emerson's CSI 9420 wireless vibration transmitters for continuous fault detection.

"On one pump, we saw an increase in vibration and confirmed it with a CSI 2130 analyzer," said Jude. "So a work order was written, the pump was shut down, and our preventive project objectives were met. We only had enough funds to upgrade 15 pumps with traditional technology, but with wireless we had enough money to do all 110 pumps. And, over eight months, we found three or four pumps like this, and we shut them down, fixed them and prevented possible catastrophic failures."

Finally, on the energy efficiency front, Richard Luneack, project coordinator for Fluor's global services division, reported that a food manufacturer's plant that makes refrigerated and frozen dough and yogurt in Murfreesboro, Tenn., reduced the energy used by hundreds of its steam traps and saved $36,000 by implementing Emerson's Rosemount 708 wireless acoustic transmitters, which provide instant alerts about failed traps.

About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control. 

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