|Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology is being employed by the Laboratory Analysis group (LAPEM) of Mexico’s Federal Electrical Commission (CFE) to help determine thermal efficiencies at power generating units throughout Mexico.|
Yesterday at a press event at the Emerson Global Users Exchange (www.emersonexchange.org) in Washington D.C., wireless was the top-of-mind issue, with Steve Sonnenberg, newly appointed president of Emerson Process Management (www.emersonprocess.com), leading the drumbeat. “[Wireless] is a technology that will be, and is being, used widely within the process industry,” said Sonnenberg, as he introduced the winners of
Emerson’s inaugural Smart Wireless Innovators Awards.
The Smart Wireless Innovators Awards are an effort by Emerson to show that wireless isn’t just something plants are talking about implementing, but rather that wireless is already being used to achieve process improvement in real-world environments. Companies highlighted as part of the Innovators Awards presentation included the winners, Croda Inc. (www.croda.com) and CFE LAPEM (www.cfe.gob.mx/en/), as well as two other distinguished finalists, Boise Inc. (www.boiseinc.com) and Genzyme Corporation (www.genzyme.com).
Railcar Temperature Monitoring
Emerson successfully applied a Smart Wireless Solution to the problem of monitoring rising temperatures in railcars containing chemicals at Croda Inc, an international specialty chemical manufacturer. No matter where the railcars may be positioned at the Mill Hall, Penna. plant, a wireless temperature transmitter on each car sends minute-by-minute temperature readings to a central host. Croda uses this information to improve the performance and safety of their facility. In this way, the system keeps operators aware of any unexpected temperature rise, while saving the company about $15,000 per year in reduced maintenance, according to Croda.
Normally, three railcars are remotely located on-site. Since the railcars are frequently moved, hard wiring of temperature sensors was not practical. Previously, an employee had to climb to the top of each car once a day to check the temperatures and record each reading. This was a time-consuming procedure that, during wet or icy conditions, presented a fall potential.
The wireless temperature transmitters are installed atop a railcar upon its arrival at the site, and they remain there until the car is about to be removed. The wireless communications pass through a 1420 gateway (receiver) and on to the plant’s DeltaV control system. While the operators watch for rising temperatures, transmitter performance is simultaneously checked by Emerson’s AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager, which will alarm if a transmitter ceases to operate or performs erratically.
Thermal Efficiency for Power Generation
Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology is being employed by the Laboratory Analysis group (LAPEM) of Mexico’s Federal Electrical Commission (CFE) to help determine thermal efficiencies at power generating units throughout Mexico. LAPEM has five analysis teams that set up temporary measurement facilities at each of 140 power plants, although they can’t cover 100 percent of the plants due to the time required for each. In contrast to traditional wired measurements, one team’s easy establishment of a temporary wireless network in power plants made it possible to increase its productivity and plant coverage by 10 percent. This led to an annual revenue increase of $512,000 for LAPEM. It also improved the revenue of the Federal Electrical Commission by pushing higher output for each plant while reducing costs.
The ease of use and the reliable performance of Emerson’s Smart Wireless system resulted in a decision by the Laboratory Analysis group to equip all five of its analytical teams with wireless instrumentation. Their productivity is expected to increase by another 40 percent with faster turnaround time between services. As a result, all five teams should perform 25 more assessment services per year, producing an extra $1,375,000 U.S. annually without adding personnel, according to LAPEM. Each of the 140 power units can now be visited and analyzed every other year.
“In the past, we could only cover about 50 plants per year,” said Oscar Martinez Mejia of LAPEM, in a prepared statement. “We needed to reduce turnaround time at each plant in order to reach every plant on a two-year cycle. Emerson’s Smart Wireless made it possible for the team equipped with wireless devices to cut their on-site time by one-third, enabling them to complete more services in a year’s time and proving the value of wireless.”
When the group of technicians and engineers arrive at a plant, they install seven to 25 Rosemount wireless instruments, depending on the size of the unit (350MW, 300MW, 160MW and smaller), plus a Smart Wireless Gateway to receive flow, pressure and temperature measurements, which are fed to a thermal efficiency model. The model is used to determine the heat rate of the unit and the efficiency of such equipment as condensers, cooling towers, boilers, turbines, and auxiliary equipment as well as energy losses. This information helps the analytical team define problems a plant needs to correct to maximize production efficiency.
Safety Automation at Paper Mill
Boise Inc. has enhanced safety response capability at its paper mill in St. Helens, Oregon, by implementing Emerson’s Smart Wireless to monitor its eyewash and safety shower stations.
When one of the eight eyewash or safety shower stations at the mill is turned on, Emerson’s Rosemount wireless discrete transmitters in the self-organizing Smart Wireless field network communicate with the mill’s operating system to activate an alarm in the facility’s control room. This allows operators to dispatch assistance to the station and investigate for possible injuries.
Prior to implementing Emerson’s Smart Wireless solution, the plant did not have a monitoring network for its safety stations and instead relied upon individual radio communications to alert the control room.
“We have numerous people at our mill — including drivers who are unloading chemicals — who don’t have an avenue to directly communicate with the operators,” said Jeff Taylor of Boise Inc. “Although we use lots of radios at the plant, none of the contractors and only some of the employees have them.”
The estimated cost to use hard-wired monitors at the stations was $40,000. “We had looked into installing a wired network monitoring system, but it was cost prohibitive to do so,” Taylor said. “By installing a wireless network instead of a traditional wired network, we were able to save about 60 percent in installation costs.”
Some of the switches are as far as 200 feet from the gateway. The gateway interfaces with an OPC server, which delivers reliable data to the mill’s operating system. The wireless network monitors the switches every 15 seconds.
“Because we have established this wireless network infrastructure, we anticipate that for low cost we can easily add additional transmitters at our mill for use with other applications,” Taylor said.
Cold Room Temperature Monitoring
Genzyme Corporation, a global biotechnology provider, is using Smart Wireless temperature, pressure, and level transmitters to protect product quality and to reduce waste at its Genzyme Therapeutics enzyme manufacturing facility in Allston, Mass.
The company’s insurer suggested Genzyme establish a backup method to monitor the temperature in its cold rooms. Emerson’s self-organizing Smart Wireless network was installed, comprising of Rosemount temperature transmitters in two of the facility’s 20 cold rooms, and pressure and level transmitters installed on liquid nitrogen tanks at the plant’s tank farm. The network provides Genzyme with reliable real-time data for trend analysis, providing a redundant monitoring system to help protect the integrity of the company’s costly materials and product.
“The materials we use and final products we produce at this facility are very expensive. We have to closely monitor batch and materials storage temperatures throughout every step of the manufacturing process or the batch may have to be scrapped entirely,” said Jim Albert, Genzyme process engineer, in a prepared statement. “Production of one batch can sometimes take months, and one batch of enzymes can be worth as much as $1 million.”
The wireless transmitters send data to an Emerson Smart Wireless Gateway that transmits the information into the facility’s plant historian software on an OPC server. The data is accessible plant-wide for trend analysis. “We use the trending to investigate any excursions that may occur at the plant,” said Albert.
The company selected Smart Wireless devices as part of Emerson’s wireless SmartPack Starter Kit. According to Genzyme, the kit offered a cost-effective, low-risk way to establish and evaluate a redundant monitoring system to back up its paper chart recorders and manual recording processes. Because the new network is a separate system from its existing validated monitoring and control systems, Genzyme was able to implement and test this new technology with limited change control process.
“This makes it low risk to implement, and allows us to experiment with wireless and learn how we can best utilize its capabilities before rolling it out to additional cold rooms or other parts of our operations,” said Albert.
The facility operates 24/7. Adding a redundant wired monitoring network for the cold rooms would have been economically impractical both because of the cost of installing conduit and the associated costs incurred as rooms were shut down for the installation. Installing wires to reach transmitters at the tank farm would have been cost prohibitive because of the farm’s location.
Genzyme intends to expand its Smart Wireless network of transmitters throughout the plant’s cold rooms for additional monitoring and trend analysis. It is also considering creating a duplicate alarming system with the wireless data to back-up its existing building management system.