Using Wireless Sensors for Personnel Safety and Regulatory Compliance

ControlGlobal.com: Boost Safety and Compliance While Testing New LimitsThe latest Control magazine included a supplement by Emerson’s Rosemount team on ways to operate a plant closer to its full potential. One article, Boost Safety and Compliance While Testing New Limits, provides ways process manufacturers have deployed wireless technology to help address safety and compliance challenges. I’ll highlight a few excerpts from the article.

The article opens noting the economic challenges associated with increasing regulations:


Many industries face increasing regulation that puts 30 to 50 percent of their profits at stake, according to a recent McKinsey report. Furthermore, the U.S. Dept. of the Interior estimated that new safety regulations introduced in 2010 added $1.4 million in annual operating costs to each of the oil and gas industry’s deep water drills with floating rigs.

For plants that have hazardous areas such as those in hydrocarbon production, refining, and transportation, minimizing plant staff time in these areas is important. At an AOC Resin facility:

…Rosemount wireless temperature sensors eliminated clipboard rounds that were an inefficient use of operator time, subjected personnel to a safety risk, and lengthened time to market. The new Smart Wireless network ensures proper mixing of AOC’s intermediate resin products with micro-additives at target temperatures to achieve customer-specific formulations and quality—all from the safety of the control room.

“By replacing manual sampling with on-line measurements, we were able to decrease cycle time up to 10 percent,” said Tou Moua, AOC product engineer. “We also improved operator safety, and freed up their time to focus on other key areas of the plant.”

At Croda, Inc., a chemical intermediates manufacturer:

Rosemount wireless temperature sensors tackled an application that previously had been both unsafe and impractical for traditional wired approaches: the early detection of exothermic reactions in railcars. With continuous temperature monitoring that goes wherever the railcars do, if the temperature starts to rise, operators are alerted and can take preventive action well before a hazardous situation escalates…

Non-traditional monitoring such as safety showers and pressure relief valve is possible with wireless instrumentation. At a Lion Oil facility [hyperlinks added]:

…remote safety showers are equipped with Rosemount 702 Wireless Discrete Transmitters and TopWorx GO Switches and Brackets to alert operators when a safety shower has been activated. This provides an immediate alert to emergency personnel and a digital record that the event occurred. “The discrete switches on the showers would easily have cost $10,000 each to wire,” said Wilson Borosvskis, Lion Oil instrumentation and control engineer.

Locations such as tank farms have wiring challenges given their size and physical spacing. At FH Tank Storage [hyperlinks added]:

Rosemount 3051S Wireless Differential Pressure Sensors automate level measurement in 14 of the petrochemical terminal’s smaller solvent and chemical tanks, while 15 Rosemount 5402 non-contacting radar devices with Smart Wireless THUM Adapters are on the larger tanks, many with floating roofs. “Not only has the new system improved the monitoring of tank levels, it has provided a fully approved overspill protection solution,” says Lars Ferm, site manager.

Other examples cited in the article include Pipe Clamp temperature sensors and Wireless Acoustic transmitters to listen for pressure relief valve discharges. The article closes:

But once that first [wireless] network is in place, they’re discovering that new measurement points are easy and relatively inexpensive to add. This is opening their eyes to incremental applications that can advance other plant performance metrics such as production throughput, energy efficiency and asset utilization rates. Confident that their operations are now safe and compliant, they’re pushing facilities to operate closer to their full potential.

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Posted Monday, February 4th, 2013 under Technologies, Wireless.