Plant studies support use of wireless in capital projects

21st February 2013

Sean Ottewell reports on two new studies which have recommended that wireless infrastructure should be a key component in all new process projects.

Emerson Process Management has unveiled quantified results and other findings of two independent real-world greenfield projects that recommend wireless infrastructure be a key component of all new projects.

In one case, JDI Contracts applied Smart Wireless technology to applications in a new process plant for a major US chemical manufacturer; in the other, Emerson modelled a hydrotreater capital project. Economics, efficiency and other advantages made the case for wireless with both JDI and Emerson.

"Our recommendations regarding 'best practices' are firmly centred around procedures and technology required to meet owner objectives and deliver expected project outcomes to our clients, including scope, schedule, budget, and less tangible outcomes such as maintainability and ease of use," commented Roger Hoyum, principal engineer, JDI Contracts. "With wireless technology, we can deliver a better plant."

JDI worked with a major EPC and end user to study the project impact of wireless. They compared engineering, construction, start-up, and overhead costs for approaches using wired HART, wired bus technologies, WirelessHART, and combinations of each. Wireless was used for non-safety, low speed control and monitoring, amounting to about 25 per cent of the total points.

With each paradigm shift - wireless being the latest - plants realised savings and became smarter through simpler engineering and construction, flexible start-up, faster deployment and project completion, and changing automation needs.

For the use of Smart Wireless on 25 per cent of points, overall plant engineering, construction and start-up savings were about 10 per cent of considered costs as compared with wired HART; for the bus installation, wireless savings were on a par with wired busing. Although not quantified, other considerations of flexibility and schedule impact were deemed very important in each approach.

"Wireless is an important new tool for use with HART and Foundation fieldbus in capital projects," concluded Hoyum. "It delivers savings, flexibility, and speed of implementation."

In its own study, Emerson used real data from a near-6000 point greenfield hydrotreater project. Wireless was applied to 44 per cent of all points. Similar to the JDI study, Smart Wireless showed significant savings of 36 per cent in automation and installation as compared with a completely wired HART solution; Foundation fieldbus was slightly less expensive than WirelessHART due to use of high density temperature measurement, although as mentioned, wireless combines its relative low cost with the advantages of ease of use for difficult monitoring locations, flexibility and future growth.

In combination with its extensive experience in hundreds of wireless brownfield installations, Emerson's conclusions from the greenfield project studies are that Smart Wireless gives maximum cost advantage where installations are difficult, remote monitoring is required, and auxiliary systems are involved.

Wireless eliminates the need for and cost of building in spare I/O capacity. Wireless devices are greatly flexible when it comes to making changes late in a project, and for temporary installations for start-up and troubleshooting. And, it's very easy to add incremental wireless points compared to wired bus points. Training and engineering are simplified with the inherently easy wireless technology.And wireless delivers larger, long-term operational benefits due to its easy, low cost expandability.

"Our takeaway from these studies is that all three technologies - HART, Foundation fieldbus and wireless - should be in the design toolbox for capital projects," summarised Peter Zornio, chief strategic officer of Emerson Process Management. "The studies confirm that Foundation fieldbus continues to offer the lowest cost installation for process control points. For monitoring points, both Foundation fieldbus and wireless offer good alternatives and similar installation savings. However, over the plant lifecycle, wireless adds significant benefits with simplified training, flexibility and allows very easy and lowest cost incremental expansion."

In a related development, the company has also announced wireless and predictive maintenance enhancements to its well known AMS Suite asset management software that helps users optimise critical plant assets. AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager 10.0 features support for WirelessHART devices and networks, alert monitoring capabilities, advanced diagnostics through SNAP-ON applications, and increased ease-of-use.

One key enhancement is a common interface for WirelessHART and wired devices. AMS Device Manager 10.0 delivers a rich set of tools to help users deploy Smart Wireless technology and access predictive diagnostics from all areas of the plant. With AMS Device Manager, users have a common interface to manage all their devices, both wired and wireless. Wireless device configuration is streamlined, and drag-and-drop functionality automates commissioning for increased efficiency and security.

In addition, with the AMS Wireless SNAP-ON application, users can plan, customise, visualise, and manage Emerson's Smart Wireless networks (Fig.1). Once the wireless network is installed, the AMS Wireless SNAP-ON application also provides a comprehensive view of the network's status, enabling users to maximise reliability of the wireless network.

At the same time, advanced alert monitoring functionality in AMS Device Manager 10.0 allows users to better manage their predictive alerts and take targeted action. By augmenting Alert Monitor, users gain better visibility to new and existing alerts and the ability to easily filter them based on severity, location, tag and other factors.

When installed with DeltaV 10.3, AMS Device Manager enables users to easily access predictive diagnostics from Foundation fieldbus, HART, and WirelessHART devices, bringing real-time information to plant staff for fast decision-making.

Robust diagnostic deployment and display for instruments and valves. AMS Device Manager 10.0 also delivers advanced diagnostics for instruments and valves with enhanced SNAP-ON application functionality. AMS ValveLink 10.0 displays robust valve diagnostics delivered by Fisher FIELDVUE digital valve controllers, allowing users to quickly identify and troubleshoot any issues. The addition of a Scheduler to the Meter Verification SNAP-ON application allows users to schedule multiple verification tests for Micro Motion Coriolis flow and density meters.

AMS Device Manager 10.0 shows a significant investment by Emerson in improving the ease-of-use for users. The user interface leverages the benefits of enhanced Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) to provide simple, graphical screens that quickly deliver important information. The new user-centric design delivers unprecedented ease-of-use in asset management software.

"The release of AMS Device Manager 10.0 is the culmination of our work to make wireless device deployment and management easy," said Craig Llewellyn, president of Emerson's asset optimisation division.

Operators and maintenance personnel rely on predictive diagnostics to make fast, informed decisions. Through AMS Suite and the PlantWeb digital plant architecture, Emerson says users can improve efficiency and plant performance to achieve business goals.


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