The transmitters have been developed with many security features to help ensure that users’ facilities stay secure.

Bluetooth connectivity boosts safety, efficiency

Aug. 24, 2023
The Rosemount 3051 Pressure Transmitter is now enabled with Bluetooth technology, and the connectivity adds several benefits for plant technicians

As the capabilities of the Rosemount 3051 Pressure Transmitter continue to evolve, its transformation is focused on creating more efficiency for users. Among the host of new features and updates is its connectivity. Understanding that in today’s world people are used to wireless workflows on digital devices, it was a natural progression that the latest update incorporates Bluetooth technology. The addition of Bluetooth technology offers several benefits for users, but as Megan Wiens, product manager at Emerson, says, Bluetooth technology builds on the idea that the iconic transmitter is becoming a more versatile device that is more aligned to the way people have become accustomed to connecting to digital devices in their daily lives.

While the Rosemount 3051 Pressure Transmitter has been one of the most popular devices on the market for much of its three-plus decades of existence—Emerson has been voted Control’s readers’ choice awards best pressure transmitter for more than 30 years—connecting the transmitters to a field communicator had been a bit tedious. In the past, users may have needed to climb up on scaffolding, crawl behind instruments in crowded areas, or scale tanks to unscrew the cover of the transmitter just to wire up to the device. “It was a very manual process,” Wiens says. “Now with Bluetooth capabilities, we’ve cut out all those steps.”

Enabling Bluetooth technology, the popular short-length wireless technology used in many households and businesses today, technicians can simply pull out their mobile phones or tablets and connect with the transmitters without potentially exposing the device to environmental hazards or human error, particularly if the cover doesn’t get put back on quite correctly. “But you still get access to all of the information that’s in the device,” Wiens is quick to point out.

In one sense, Bluetooth technology is a service port to Rosemount 3051 Pressure Transmitters, much like other field communicators, but wireless and quicker for the user. Brad Burton, senior product manager at Emerson, explains that if users have a handheld communicator, such as a phone or tablet and have previously established connection to the devices with Bluetooth technology, they can simply walk through the facility with an app in hand and see certain information about the devices pop into their screen as they come into range. When the device pops into their app device list, they’ll immediately be able to see the status of the transmitter as well as the dynamic process variable. He adds, such immediacy enables real-time status monitoring without going through the tedious, and sometimes dangerous, steps to access each transmitter. This level of information from multiple devices can be automatically monitored at the same time.

In addition, Bluetooth connectivity is about 10 times faster than the traditional HART® protocol. Wiens says the advantages to such speed are obvious on the surface. It lets users get work done faster. With traditional HART communicators, users might have to click a button and wait for a couple seconds until the next screen populates. “Bluetooth connectivity is much more responsive and more similar to a phone, the interface that people are used to interacting with on a daily basis,” she says.

Going a layer deeper, Wiens says the other benefit is technicians might not have to spend as much time in hazardous areas or even necessarily go into them at all if the communication range supports being able to stay outside of that hazardous area. “There’s a broader benefit to this speed from a safety perspective,” she continues.

Easy access

One valuable tool is the previously mentioned app, called AMS Device Configurator. It is a free download that gives users secure access to the transmitters. Transmitter information cannot be accessed via Bluetooth connection outside of the app.

When a user opens the app, the device list shows all the different devices that have been either connected previously or are within communication range of the user’s phone or tablet. From there, the user can choose to connect to any of the specific devices. The device list also gives a quick overview of how everything’s doing within range, and then offers the option to actively connect to a device.

Wiens says the Bluetooth interface that users see on the app when actively interfacing with the device is the same as people are used to seeing with other HART communicators such as AMS Trex and AMS Device Manager. “We’ve tried to reduce that learning curve with the way that we’ve designed the interface,” she says. “It is a new technology, but users already know how to use it.”

Staying safe

The technology updates to the Rosemount 3051 Pressure Transmitter have a focus on safety, as it is for any new capabilities added to Emerson devices. Providing users with a way to work more safely was a contributing factor to implementing Bluetooth technology. The company expects Bluetooth technology to be implemented across more of its products in the future with the safety of technicians, equipment and even the environment in mind.

In addition to minimizing time that technicians spend in hazardous locations, it eliminates several steps previously needed to access the device, from navigating hard-to-reach areas to the transmitter covers. Wiens says there’s a lot of different safety aspects inherent to the addition of Bluetooth connectivity, including cutting down on time spent in bad weather or navigating congested areas at many facilities. “Given the environment and just the nature of these facilities, it’s about how we can help our users do their work more efficiently, reliably and safely,” Wiens says. “Bluetooth technology is a good answer to all those different scenarios.”

It’s well known that undetected issues with a device could spark some type of environmental damage, particularly in processing industries such as oil and gas refining and chemical processing. In other cases, lack of detection can cause catastrophic breakdown. The monitoring capabilities of Bluetooth connectivity further enhances the ability of technicians to access alerts in a quick and timely manner.

Layering on security

The cybersecurity of Emerson’s products is of utmost importance and Emerson worked hard to deliver secure solutions in the design of the updated Rosemount 3051 Pressure Transmitter. Like all Emerson products enabled with Bluetooth technology, the transmitters have been developed with many security features to help ensure that users’ facilities stays secure. Emerson’s Bluetooth solution is secure out of the box. These security features are enabled by default and cannot be disabled, either inadvertently or intentionally.

When it comes to the Rosemount 3051 Pressure Transmitter, Wiens says a lot of the security measures are unseen by the user because they act “behind the scenes.” But there are many visible signs of the added security layers. The first thing that many users see when they unbox a transmitter or an Emerson device with Bluetooth technology is each of the devices are shipped with a unique identifier (UID) and a key. The UID is a specific code associated only with that specific transmitter, which is used to identify that transmitter in the app.

In addition, the data presented on the app is encrypted. Wiens points out that the Bluetooth technology used is not the same as consumer Bluetooth wireless technologies. There are two different communication channels when talking about this Bluetooth technology, she says. The broadcast data is constantly being sent from the field device, and is encrypted for protection. That’s the information being picked up when the user sees the device list in the app and includes very basic device information, like the tag, type of transmitter it is, or device health status. This broadcast information is only visible from the app and after secure connection has been previously established. The other layer of communication is connection, which is when the user is actively communicating one-on-one with a Bluetooth device. “That is the layer that allows you access to the device,” she points out.

Another security feature is admittedly very different than what users may be used to seeing with Bluetooth devices at home. Wiens says that rather than connecting the device in the plant like one would pair a Bluetooth speaker to a phone at home, which is a largely automatic task, the process for the Rosemount 3051 Pressure Transmitter is more like connecting to a Wi-Fi network. Users need to know what device they are looking for when choosing to connect to a device. They are asked to verify themselves with a specific password. From there, users can set up roles with custom passwords to satisfy preferred site cybersecurity practices.

“We’ve tried to make the different security features as flexible as possible to meet the wide variety of security preferences of users,” she says.

Burton puts things in perspective relative to the launch of the Rosemount 3051 Pressure Transmitter in 1988 saying Bluetooth technology is a very recent innovation in comparison, and two things have inhibited Bluetooth technology historically when it comes to process control. One has been manufacturers’ lack of ability to provide Bluetooth communication on a low-power device such as 4-20 mA transmitters that can run down to 40 milliwatts. “The lack of ability to have Bluetooth communication out of a device running on that minimal power was one issue,” Burton says.

The other was being able to do it in a secure way. Even though the convenience of Bluetooth connectivity is fantastic, users simply cannot tolerate any security breaches that may occur that would allow somebody to manipulate the 4-20 mA output of a device and cause disruptions in a process.

Burton says that security of communications is a key concern for users due to the types of processes the Rosemount 3051 is used to control—understandably, some users are very conservative and very cautious about adopting new technologies. However, Emerson already has many users who have taken on adoption, according to Burton. “They see the advantages of the technology and are working to implement it into their work practices,” he says. “So, there’s a lot of excitement around it. It just has a modern feel of being able to pull out your phone and connect to a device.” Emerson's implementation of Bluetooth connectivity provides the convenience of wireless configuration with the security you would expect from a global process instrumentation supplier.

With robust security features, a familiar user interface, and fast communication speed, Bluetooth technology is changing the ways users work and provides benefits for productivity, safety and reliability.