Mobile Accessibility to Valve Diagnostics

We must be having fun because this week has absolutely flown by. I had the chance to visit Innotech Austin yesterday afternoon. It’s a conference for business technology innovations for IT and marketing professionals. The advances of social media and mobile applications played a large role in the sessions for this event.

On the mobile front and in our world of process automation, I thought I’d highlight one of the presentations from this year’s Emerson Exchange. Emerson’s Lorin Miller, a senior marketing manager for the Fisher FIELDVUE team, gave an update on the ValveLink Mobile software.

As its name implies, the software is for plant technicians to perform configuration, calibration, and diagnostics locally where the valves are installed and operating. Lorin noted the importance of quick access to the valves especially in plant turnaround situations. Every instrument and valve is calibrated during a shutdown or turnaround, which can equate to several thousand pieces of equipment.

The mobility of this application extends to both the 475 handheld device and to smart phones running the Windows Mobile operating system. On a Window Mobile device, it communicates via Bluetooth to a HART modem.

In the presentation, Lorin highlighted some of the diagnostic tests that are performed. These include valve signatures, dynamic error band, step response, and status such as last calibration date. Having these diagnostics available in something that can fit in your pocket, in the case of the smart phone, opens up the ability for rapid diagnosis and troubleshooting. The data collected locally on these on the handheld device or smart phone can be transferred back to a PC for further analysis using Bluetooth or infrared communications.

As the capabilities and power of mobile devices continue to grow, more applications will continue to be available for plant engineers, operators, and maintenance technicians. The connections with people, work processes, and systems provide more rapid response to abnormal situations and document what’s occurring in real-time to assist in optimization efforts.

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