"Imagine a plant where maintenance technicians get their electronic work instructions and work orders, and take their parts box and their lunch pail out into the plant, work consistently and productively for a whole shift, and then come back to the shop."
That's the scenario for the mobile worker of the future, according to Neil Peterson, wireless services marketing manager for Emerson Process Management.
How would this work?
"What we've done," Peterson says, "is to install a complete DeltaV package on the Panasonic U1 small-form-factor handheld computer. We call it a ‘Smart Wireless Mobile Worker' solution. It actually runs the full DeltaV suite, but it is really designed to run DeltaV Operate as a DeltaV remote operator station. You actually can do everything in the Mobile Worker solution that you can in a DeltaV console, but the screen is too small for real convenience. All the DeltaV tools are there, though. In addition, we've designed it to communicate only DeltaV data to the control room, which cuts bandwidth requirements drastically. It isn't running a client of the console-based program—it is the program."
Not only are all the DeltaV tools there, including the engineering toolsets, Peterson notes, but you can also run AMS concurrently on the tiny, but powerful Panasonic handheld computer. "We have made a tool that operators can use to allow themselves to productively operate and maintain their plant from wherever they are in the plant," he says.
"Using IEEE 802.11a, b, g standards-based technology," Peterson says, "we can provide our customers with a fully secure, reliable Wi-Fi communication link in any location of their plant that they choose to provide ‘hot spot' access to their process operations or business applications."
That's not all, according to Peterson. "This is a scalable Wi-Fi network that can be shared by many Smart Wireless solutions for plant-wide operations, such as field data backhaul, remote video monitoring, safety mustering and location tracking," Peterson continues. "These solutions are already available using existing standards, and our customers don't need to wait for new standards-based solutions."