Wireless field devices benefit from technology standards

Paul Boughton

Wireless field devices have many advantages over wired solutions and the advent of more wireless technology standards is widening their appeal. Eugene McCarthy reports.

Field wireless systems enable field devices and other control and monitoring systems around the process plant to communicate wirelessly with each other. As such, they have numerous advantages over traditional wired devices, including allowing field instruments or sensors to be placed in difficult to access or hazardous locations. They also cost less to install and maintain than wired solutions.

Many such systems adhere to the ISA100 wireless technology standard, which is designed to assure interoperability within a flexible framework, support new protocols, and future-proof users' wireless network investments.

Enhanced natural workflow

Yokogawa has just come out as a strong advocate of the standard with the launch of a multi-protocol wireless adaptor that enables wired field instruments to function as ISA100 wireless devices.

In May and July the company will launch models that support communications systems based on the HART and RS485 Modbus standards. To facilitate the introduction of field wireless systems in plants, Yokogawa plans to release additional models that will cover other standards, too.

The launch is part of Yokogawa's Wireless Anywhere concept which seeks to promote the plant-wide use of field wireless systems by developing ISA100 wireless devices such as this multi-protocol wireless adaptor.

Analytical sensor

When the multi-protocol wireless adaptor is mounted on a wired field instrument or analytical sensor, the instrument or sensor is able to function as an ISA100 wireless device. It may be used with any type of wired field instrument or analytical sensor commonly used in plants, including those used to monitor temperature, pressure, liquid level, or vibration, or to detect gas. It is compatible with both Yokogawa devices and devices from other vendors.

By giving customers a greater range of field instruments and analytical sensors to choose from, Yokogawa expects that this multi-protocol wireless adaptor will greatly facilitate the introduction of field wireless systems.

The battery in the multi-protocol wireless adaptor can also power the field instrument or analytical sensor, eliminating the need for wiring.

As with other Yokogawa field wireless devices, the multi-protocol wireless adaptor uses a large-capacity lithium-ion battery, and this is able to power both the multi-protocol wireless adaptor and the field instrument or analytical sensor for a long time.

An indicator on the host system shows the estimated remaining days of battery life.

An all-weather model type that is waterproof and dustproof performance and an explosion-protection type that can be used in the presence of inflammable gases are scheduled to be released.

Yokogawa has also started providing sensor manufacturers a new wireless communications module with a built-in antenna.

This new module is intended for use in wireless sensors, and will be provided to companies that develop and manufacture these products.

Yokogawa has already concluded a contract to license the use of this wireless technology to New Cosmos Electric, a gas detector manufacturer. It is expected that this module will drastically reduce the amount of time required to develop ISA100 compliant wireless sensors.

Extending network into the field

New from Honeywell Process Solutions is the OneWireless Network, a multi-application, multi-standard industrial wireless network that extends the process control network into the field.

OneWireless Network is made up of the following components: Honeywell OneWireless Field Device Access Point (FDAP) - an industrial meshing access point for ISA100 wireless field instruments; Honeywell OneWireless Wireless Device Manager - manages the wireless field instrument network and all wireless field devices, including ISA100 wireless field instruments, FDAPs, the field instrument radio embedded in the access points and any wired field devices with an ISA100 wireless adapter; Cisco Aironet 1552S access point - an industrial meshing access point for IEEE 802.11 devices and ISA100 wireless field instruments; and Cisco Wireless Controller, which manages the IEEE 802.11 network and all IEEE 802.11 devices connected to the network.

Among the benefits that Honeywell cites are:

- Flexibility and scalability. It meets a site's specific wireless network needs with a rich portfolio of industrial access points and wireless field instruments;

- Best-in-class data availability with wall-to-wall dual paths between ISA100 wireless field instruments and host applications;

- Great user experience with no software to install, an intuitive user interface, and over-the-air firmware upgrade and provisioning;

- Easy integration with the richest portfolio of interfaces, including Modbus, OPC, HART, Experion CDA, GCI and Honeywell Enraf; and

- Lowest cost of ownership with savings of up to $3000 per access point and annual savings of $10,000 in maintenance costs.

Honeywell says the OneWireless Network allows users to cost-effectively and quickly roll out battery-powered wireless transmitters, collect additional process data and meet HSE regulations at lower costs, empower their workforce with remote access to process data and other plant-related information, and enhance plant security by cost-effectively implementing wireless CCTV cameras.

Yokogawa lands wireless best in class award

Yokogawa has won the Frost & Sullivan 2014 Global Enabling Technology Leadership Award in Wireless Solutions category. The award is presented to companies that are considered best-in-class in a specific technology.

In its citation, Frost & Sullivan notes that Yokogawa released the world's first ISA100.11a1 compliant wireless system devices and wireless pressure and temperature transmitters in July 2010, and that it continues to enhance its line-up of wireless solutions.

The citation goes on: "In accordance with the Wireless Anywhere concept, which was announced in April 2013, Yokogawa is seeking to promote the plant-wide use of field wireless systems by developing new ISA100 Wireless2 devices. In December 2013, the company started providing a wireless communications module with a built-in antenna that can help field device manufacturers significantly shorten the time needed for developing wireless solutions. The company has also released a multi-protocol wireless adaptor that will enable wired field instruments or analytical sensors to be used as ISA100 Wireless devices."

Frost & Sullivan selected Yokogawa for this award because of the company's efforts to develop ISA100 Wireless solutions that enable high-reliability, openness, and interoperability.

In selecting the award recipient, Frost & Sullivan evaluated companies based on whether they enabled the creation of new products, enhanced current products, enabled new applications, had potential for market acceptance, and had a breadth of access to technology. Yokogawa was recognised for making a superior contribution in developing innovative field wireless solutions.


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