Wireless developments boost productivity and plant security

Paul Boughton

Flexible and reliable field wireless systems are not only being used to improve productivity but, as Sean Ottewell finds, also to ensure plant security.

With a focus very much on security, Apprion has launched R2 for ION Location Application, ION Access Control Application, IONite Personnel Tag, and IONite Asset Tag.

ION Location tracks and monitors employees, contractors and tagged assets via a map-based graphical dashboard that can be integrated with satellite images of the facility. ION Access Control wirelessly monitors access to specific plant areas and keeps physical track of personnel and contractor staff as they move around industrial facilities. Both ION Location and ION Access Control use the innovative IONite Tags to keep real-time records of exactly who is in the facility, what areas they have entered or exited, and precisely where they are at all times.

These latest versions include new features, functionality and form factors such as: ION Location - location tracking via mobile devices, live tracking and history views, new reports (OSHA, zone entry/exit, missing assets/personnel, battery level, and more), rule/condition/zone grouping; ION Access Control - zone entry/exit alerts, work permit authorisation and management, live track of location changes (entering and exiting of defined zones); and IONite Tags – new, smaller form factor for the IONite Personnel Tag makes it easier to equip all personnel and contractors with the small, battery operated wi-fi Tag.

"With recent safety incidents making headlines in the process industries, the need to have a quick and accurate safety solution that allows you to account for all people on a facility in an emergency situation is being discussed more and more," said Jason Glende, Apprion vp of sales. "Our customers have expressed their elevated concerns for personnel safety and that they must follow stricter compliance mandates. We are working closely with them to continually improve our solutions like ION Location and ION Access Control to address these safety concerns and enable managers to respond quickly and effectively to a safety incident and improve total accountability goals in less than half the conventional response time. Before an industrial wireless infrastructure, it simply was not cost effective to deploy such a solution in a process facility."

Until now, most products for real-time location tracking have met limited success because multiple tagging technologies are required, the physical environment is so challenging, and network infrastructure is very sparse in industrial facilities.

Productivity up, less downtime

Emerson Process Management is making it easier for the oil and gas industry to maximise productivity and reduce downtime by incorporating its Smart Wireless technology into the Rosemount 3051 pressure transmitter.

The 3051 delivers a full suite of solutions for pressure, level and flow, providing the process industry with a new option for monitoring additional assets, reducing energy costs and increasing process efficiency while providing a safer environment for its employees. Delivering maintenance-free performance with five-year stability and a ten-year power module life, Emerson says it is an effective and reliable way to wirelessly monitor assets and reduce downtime.

Equipment failure is the cause of nearly half of an operation’s downtime, yet many assets go unmonitored due to cost constraints. Emerson says the 3051 can monitor many assets throughout an operation with a 40-60% cost savings over wired installations.

Significant costs can arise when unmonitored variations occur, causing quality to degrade and throughput to decrease. Increasing the number of measurements will provide better insight into the process and help reduce variation, but the time and cost to add new measurement can be a barrier. With Rosemount 3051 wireless devices, operations can install additional measurement points quickly and economically, providing the precise and stable measurements needed to reduce variability and maximise throughput.

Users can monitor flow and pressure in compressed air, steam and water systems to benchmark energy usage, identify energy savings opportunities throughout an operation, and provide energy management and accurate internal billing.

Meanwhile Emerson’s wireless technology is helping RWE maximise gas storage capacity and improve efficiency and safety at its Dolní Dunajovice underground gas storage facility in the Czech Republic.

Installation of five Smart Wireless networks and more than 100 wireless measurement devices has increased visibility into the process, enabling the plant to improve control and run closer to its capacity. Automating data collection has also eliminated manual rounds at the plant, improving operator efficiency and safety.

“We needed to upgrade our existing instrumentation and add additional measurements, but with just two short windows of opportunity each year and no available existing cabling infrastructure, it was impossible to complete the work within the scheduled two-week downtime,” said Pavel Šilinger, energy manager, RWE Gas Storage. “Extending the downtime would cost RWE an estimated US$250,000 (€188,000) a day in lost income.”

RWE needed a solution that did not require installation of new cabling and allowed a longer period for the upgrade to be completed. To meet this need, it selected Smart Wireless technology from Emerson. Based on IEC 62591 (WirelessHART) communications, the technology is well-proven, reliable and both quick and easy to install and commission.

The wireless solution did not require RWE to install new cabling or new I/O cards in the control host. RWE simply added Smart Wireless gateways to the existing Modbus network and all data from the new wireless transmitters was then available within the existing control system. This meant that the plant could continue to operate while new instruments were being installed, removing the need for the upgrade to be completed within the scheduled two-week downtime.

In addition to the benefits of better process management, RWE is saving 10 per cent per year on its total maintenance costs. Remote online access to diagnostic information enables operators to identify potential instrument problems earlier and correct them before poor measurements start to affect the process. Access to online data has also reduced the number of trips into the field, helping to improve the safety of equipment and workers.

Wireless anywhere

Yokogawa has introduced a new ‘Wireless Anywhere’ business concept on the plant-wide use of ISA100.11a-compliant wireless communication technologies for both monitoring and control applications.

The company says it will aggressively promote this concept to widen the use of ISA100.11a-compliant products and related services.

The ISA100.11a standard ensures high reliability, application flexibility, network expandability, and compatibility with a variety of wired communication standards such as FOUNDATION fieldbus, HART, and PROFIBUS. ISA100.11a full functional field wireless network systems and devices make use of state-of-the-art dual redundant technologies that enable a much higher level of reliability, and allow massive scalability and long-range communications.

Yokogawa says it will pursue three initiatives to drive the concept on:

* Modularising wireless components to accelerate product development. This will make it easier for vendors to implement the ISA100.11a technology in new sensor products, and accelerate time to market. By the end of 2013 the company plans to begin releasing new field wireless devices with these components.


* Promoting adoption of the ISA100.11a standard by working with other members of the ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute (ISA100WCI) to increase the number of WCI member companies and promote acceptance of the ISA100.11a standard, thereby expanding the field wireless market.

* Facilitating host connectivity for both wired and wireless field networks. Yokogawa says it will seek to improve the effectiveness of plant-wide field digital networks by making it possible for wired and wireless field devices and systems to connect with host monitoring and control systems. This will necessitate the development of technologies that will ensure host systems and field devices can communicate with each other using a variety of protocols. For example, an ISA100.11a-compliant adapter would enable a wired field device to link up with a wireless network.

Wireless network overcomes jungle challenge

An industrial wireless system supplied by Redline Communications has been chosen by a major oil producer in South America to be the basis of its new wireless infrastructure.

The company’s system, already in use in dozens of oil fields in the USA and the Middle East, will connect hundreds of access nodes, which in turn will link thousands of machine-to-machine devices across a 596km2 oil field in the tropical jungles of South America. The system will be capable of delivering the increasingly high performance requirements that these complex networks require, and is able to accommodate virtually any networked device or application, not just today but in the years to come.

“We are thrilled to be providing a wireless solution for our first major oil field in South America, and we expect that it will be one of many for this customer as they have several fields in the region,” said Carl MacKinnon, vice president worldwide sales. “This win is part of our stated growth plan: develop relationships with new customers to prove the value of our networks, expand with them in the same field as more services and connectivity is needed, then expand to other fields and eventually offer more products and services to them as we learn more about their unique needs.”

The Virtual Fibre network will be built using Redline’s nomadic RAS platform, RDL-3000 and eLTE-MT systems. All are rugged, reliable and secure wireless broadband equipment designed by the company for harsh environments and engineered and built to the exacting standards required by the energy sector.

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