There was no mistaking the intensity or the passion of Emerson Electric Co. Chief Executive Officer, Chairman and President David Farr as he delivered the opening keynote of the 2007 edition of the Emerson Global Users Exchange in Dallas Sept. 10.
Farr left the crowd of engineers and users of Emerson Process Management (www.emersonprocess.com) with no doubt that Emerson corporate management supports the efforts and directions of the process division headed by President John Berra. Farr was Berra’s predecessor and still has a passion for automation. He also won’t settle for second-best. “I like to win, and we’re going to win,” he told the crowd of almost 2,400 end-users. In his keynote, Berra said that his division is on track for another 15 percent growth in revenues for 2007 (the fiscal year ended Sept. 30) with an anticipated total of about $5.6 billion. Emerson Process Management is about $2 billion in revenues larger than it was in 2003.
Berra reiterated his belief that wireless technologies will be a game-changer in process automation, and devoted much of his keynote to answering questions about whether it is shipping products and whether users are beginning to apply them. He detailed the experiences of seven customers—four named and three not—who have already achieved significant benefits from implementing wireless sensor networks.
The PPG plant in Lake Charles, La., applied sensors for temperature profiling of plant steam headers, for redundant level measurement on caustic tanks and for vibration monitoring of brine centrifuges. “Five minutes after installing it, the wireless network came to life. It’s been there ever since,” said Tim Gerami, senior design engineer (for more on PPG wireless activities, see p. 34).
Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel applied wireless sensors in a coiling water flow and grease system health application and in cooling water flow to work rolls in a roughing mill. “The result is better information from difficult-to-reach areas of the mill, and this is helping our personnel prevent unscheduled downtime, meet customers’ quality requirements and optimize productivity,” said Gary Borham, operations manager. Croda installed the wireless mesh sensor network with temperature sensors on rail cars in its holding yard. Rail cars move around making a wired solution impractical. Formerly, workers had to climb up onto the top of the rail car to measure the temperature—a risky process in winter. “There are savings of $14,600 per year in reduced operations and maintenance costs, but the incalculable savings were in safety,” said Denny Fetters, I&E designer.
Milford Power used the Emerson sensor network to monitor remote pumping facilities. Wireless saved $75,000 in installation and capital costs and helps operators avoid freeze damage to water pumping and circulating equipment that could cost $20,000 per incident. “Especially important was the easy, flexible, self-organizing network that could be installed and operational in a very short time,” said Cliff Esmiol, maintenance supervisor. Similar stories were recorded at a pulp and paper mill, a refinery and at a life sciences company, Berra said.
New Products Unveiled
Two new products unveiled at the event are in the machinery health monitoring area, and four are extensions to the SmartWireless product line. The PlantWeb Smart Machinery Health Monitoring product has been extended to support API 670 (a standard of the American Petroleum Institute) turbomachinery protection. This product integrates machinery health monitoring with process automation to maximize equipment reliability and plant performance while protecting critical machinery from catastrophic failures by permitting orderly shutdown of equipment and related processes. As part of the solution, the company released the CSI 6000 machinery Health Monitor that is also integrated into the AMS suite of predictive maintenance applications.
On the wireless front, the biggest news was a partnership of Emerson and Cisco Systems Inc. (www.cisco.com), the San Jose, Calif., networking product supplier, in which the two will jointly sell wireless technology into process plants. Emerson also announced a wireless vibration transmitter, wireless corrosion transmitter and wireless discrete output sensor. It also has integrated direct support for DeltaV input/output modules as part of its SmartWireless Field Network.