When we talk about Big Data these days, it’s often about the need to take that conversation to the next level—actually do something useful with all that data. And rightfully so. But we still need to remember that an essential aspect of creating the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the growing prevalence of cheaper, more advanced sensors that can be installed easily through wireless connections to gather even more of that increasingly useful data.
As expected, Emerson’s Pervasive Sensing concept has been mentioned often this week at the Emerson Global Users Exchange in Austin. Introduced at Emerson Exchange a few years ago, it’s the idea that IIoT growth is heavily dependent on the growing pervasiveness of sensors throughout the plant.
“For a number of years, we’ve been talking about the concept of pervasive sensing,” said Peter Zornio, chief strategic officer for Emerson Automation Solutions, during a press briefing Monday afternoon. “Without that data, you can’t improve. If you don’t know where you are, how do you know if you’re getting better?”
Though Emerson has been focused on a number of key initiatives this week—Connected Services, Operational Certainty and Secure First Mile are all important, so stay tuned—a lot of that is built on the idea that more data is being collected from more places throughout the operation.
The Plantweb Digital Ecosystem, introduced this week, is a collection of technologies and services geared toward creating a holistic approach to IIoT, said Bob Karschnia, vice president and general manager, wireless, Emerson Automation Solutions. Key to that message is the prevalence of Emerson’s broad portfolio of sensors, including more than 40 wireless products.
“Pervasive sensing is the basis and framework of what we’re going to talk about,” Karschnia said at another press briefing Tuesday morning, where he detailed six new sensors that provide real-time data in operational areas. They’re the “see” component of a see-decide-act approach to improve safety, reliability, efficiency and compliance. “If we can’t drive you toward operational benefits, it’s not going to help you in the long run,” he added.
Here are the six new sensors Karschnia talked about this week:
Wireless pressure gauge monitoring
The Rosemount Wireless Pressure Gauge, introduced last year, not only enables remote collection of field data, but also enables technicians in the field to easily see pressure readings as they pass by at a distance.
Wireless readings, which can be collected as often as once per minute through WirelessHART, keep operators updated on changing field conditions remotely. It provides up to 150 times overpressure protection compared with traditional gauges and two layers of process isolation for a safer field environment.
Wireless non-intrusive corrosion monitoring
The Permasense Wireless Corrosion Monitoring technology came through Emerson’s recent acquisition of Permasense, a British company focused specifically on non-intrusive wireless corrosion sensing.
It is a permanently installed technology that uses unique sensor technology, wireless data delivery and advanced analytics to continuously monitor for metal loss from corrosion or erosion in pipes, pipelines or vessels. Designed to operate without maintenance for years, the monitor uses ultrasonic technology to measure wall thickness continuously from locations where access is costly, dangerous or physically restricted.
The data provides insight into the impact of changing operations on corrosion/erosion rates to help support risk-based decisions about lower-cost crude processing, increasing production rates, optimizing chemical inhibition strategy, improving shutdown/maintenance timing and planning, and metallurgical upgrading.
Wireless medium-voltage equipment monitoring
Another new sensor that comes out of a recent acquisition is the medium-voltage equipment monitoring from IntelliSAW, which Emerson snatched up right after Emerson Exchange last year. It provides real-time, continuous monitoring of electric power switchgear temperatures and smart grid monitoring, providing accurate temperature data for key points in a power transmission network.
Non-invasive, highly scalable wireless temperature sensors use surface acoustic wave (SAW) technology that can simultaneously measure all relevant hotspots such as bus bars, breaker inputs, breaker outputs and cables. Monitoring capabilities also include RF-based partial discharge detection and humidity monitoring instruments.
Wireless gas monitoring
With the Rosemount 928 Wireless Gas Monitor, Emerson can extend the coverage of conventional gas detection technology to applications that were considered too challenging or costly to monitor in the past.
Maintaining remote sites like wellheads and natural gas metering stations, for example, is difficult and dangerous because workers approaching these sites may be exposed to unplanned releases of toxic gas. But because of the prohibitive costs to install and operate conventional gas detection systems at these sites, operators have been forced to rely on portable gas detection devices or even have no gas detection at all.
This gas monitor, connected by WirelessHART, can continuously monitor for the presence of toxic hydrogen sulfide gas, and workers can know whether gas is present before walking into an area. And because it updates operators remotely, there is less need for manual operator rounds.
Wireless non-intrusive temperature monitoring
Rosemount X-well technology is a “unique technology for us,” Karschnia said. “It’s a fundamental change in the industry.”
It eliminates the need for thermowell process penetration when measuring process temperatures in pipe applications. Mounted externally on a pipe, it uses advanced thermodynamic models to calculate the temperature of fluid in a pipe faster and even more accurately than the thermowell technology, Karschnia said.
Because X-well technology eliminates the need to drill device connections to get process temperatures, it also helps to avoid the risk of corrosion. It works by measuring pipe surface temperature and ambient temperature, and combining this information with an understanding of the thermal conductivity properties of the installation and process piping.It’s designed for use in pipelines, high-velocity flows, slurries, heavy particulate fluids, wellheads, clean-in-place processes, high-viscosity fluids and harsh processes in the oil and gas, chemical, refining, food and beverage, metals and mining, and pulp and paper industries.
Wireless power metering
Emerson’s SensEnable 56WM wireless power meter is designed to monitor voltage, current, power, energy and other electrical parameters on single- and three-phase electrical systemswith revenue-grade accuracy. It provides early detection of machine problems through continuous measurement of power consumption and power quality of submeters.
The power meter also monitors energy consumption and health status of electrically powered equipment in real time, for minimal cost. In provides granular data that enables better operations management decision-making, and optimized predictive maintenance of facility assets based on energy consumption and power quality.