Wireless Gets Real: Emerson Customers Describe Applications

“Real-world wireless” was the theme of an Emerson Process Management press conference on Monday. Real-world wireless is not drawings or powerpoints, said Emerson Chairman John Berra. Rather, it is customers who are putting wireless technology into practice.

Indeed, representatives from a half dozen Emerson customers stood up at the event to describe the innovative ways they are using Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology, along with benefits achieved. Further, Emerson executives showed slides listing 21 customers—including the six participating companies—who have either current or pending press releases on their application of real-world wireless.

Customers describing their wireless initiatives included the two winners of Emerson’s inaugural Smart Wireless Innovators Application Contest. Croda Inc., a speciality chemical company, won the “Most Innovative” award for its use of wireless technology to measure temperature on moving rail cars at its Mill Hall, Pa., plant. CFM LAPEM, the Laboratory Analysis Group of Mexico’s Federal Electrical Commission, won the award for “Business Results” for its use of temporary wireless networks for measurements at 140 power plants, producing an increase in annual service revenues of $512,000. The Croda and CFM LAPEM projects are described in more detail elsewhere in this issue.

World’s First Industrial

Other end-user participants at the conference included BP, which has been working with Emerson for four years on wireless technology. BP’s 15-transmitter wireless installation at its Cherry Point Washington refinery was “the world’s very first industrial wireless network,” said Natalia Kroutikova, technology leader for BP Refining Technology. Cherry Point has since expanded wireless use to 35 transmitters including tank farm and utility applications, and installation of a Smart Wireless gateway in the diesel unit to make it ready for wireless motes.

The principal advantage of wireless at Cherry Point is the ability to accumulate and analyze a much greater array of data than would otherwise be economically possible. In addition to the Cherry Point initiative, Kroutikova also described BP use of Emerson Smart Wireless technology at another facility in Naperville, Ill.

Jeff Taylor, process control engineer at Boise Inc., described how his company is using Smart Wireless to monitor eye wash and safety shower stations at its paper mill in St. Helens, Ore. Boise had looked at using a hardwired approach, but found it to be cost prohibitive. The Smart Wireless network has been working flawlessly since it went operational last March, Taylor said, and was installed at 60 percent less cost than a typical hardwired installation would have cost, he added.

Boise worked closely with Emerson Process Management in developing the system. “If it hadn’t been for Emerson, I doubt very much if this process would have moved forward,” Taylor concluded.

Monitoring Bearing Health

Usiminas (Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais S.A.), a Brazilian steel producer, is using a Smart Wireless network to protect valuable plant assets and to avoid unscheduled stoppages at its heavy plate mill in Ipatinga, Brazil. Eight Rosemount wireless temperature transmitters installed on the “back-up” rolls that are part of the facility’s process to produce steel plates measure the temperature of the rolls’ bearing oil.

The technology is used to monitor the state of bearing health, and is helping the company avoid costly shut downs that can last at least six hours to replace a set of back-up rolls, said Carlos Augusto Souza de Oliveira, Usiminas instrumentation supervisor. “The wireless equipment is reliable and robust despite the harsh conditions under which it is operating. We have had no problems with the devices, their batteries or communications since installation.”

Genzyme Corp., an Allston, Mass.-based biotechnology company, is using Smart Wireless temperature, pressure and level transmitters from Emerson to protect product quality and reduce waste at its Genzyme Therapeutics enzyme manufacturing facility. The company’s insurer suggested a secondary back-up system to protect the valuable product stored in its cold rooms, said Jim Albert, Genzyme process engineer.

Genzyme selected Smart Wireless devices as part of Emerson’s SmartPack Starter Kit, as a cost-effective, low-risk way of getting its feet wet with the technology, Albert noted. The company installed a Smart Wireless network, comprising 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. Information that used to be gathered periodically by employees with chart recorders is now available instantly, Albert said.

Installation was much easier and less expensive than it would have been for wired devices, he said. The company now plans to expand its Smart Wireless network of transmitters throughout the plant’s cold rooms for additional monitoring and trend analysis, and is also considering other Smart Wireless applications, Albert said.

Industrial Diversity

“It’s to see the diversity in all of these presentations,” observed Steve Sonnenberg, business leader of Emerson Process Management. “We go from a steel mill to biotechnology!”


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