Wireless communications technologies are pervasive in our lives and in our world of process automation and control. Not only for smart instrumentation, but also for process manufacturing and production operating and maintenance personnel.
In a PPI Mills and Technology article, Wireless technology: empowering the mill worker, the author shares a story of mobile worker technology in action at the Stora Enso Langerbrugge, Ghent, Belgium mill. This mill:
…produces more than 500,000 tonnes/yr of newsprint and magazine paper from 100% recycled paper.
The purpose of the mobile worker technology was to use wireless technology:
…to give operators instant access to data from the control/automation system, maintenance data, and operation procedures – wherever they are in the mill.
In addition to operating the process from a central control room, operator tasks include:
…cleaning equipment, inputting data to the SAP manufacturing execution system when specific things happen in the process, and writing a daily report. These additional tasks will vary depending on how the processes have run during that working day.
During the night shift, operator tasks include:
…visually inspecting the installation, checking the valves for emissions, checking pumps and motors for excessive noise caused by vibration that might indicate a problem, and monitoring and recording tank levels. During these rounds the operators need to have continuous access to process alarms and alerts so they can investigate problems and take action — for example, by stopping a sequence or shutting a valve.
The mobile worker technologies used included the installation of a Wi-Fi hot spot in the de-inking area, and [hyperlink added]:
…’ruggedized’ Apple iPad4 tablets with Emerson’s DeltaV Remote Operator Station application. The mill chose iPads because they were easy to handle and quick to replace should they be damaged. The wireless network is secured using AES 128-bit encryption and its integrity is continuously monitored.
Some of value created by these mobile worker technologies and work practices include faster problem solving through real-time control system access. Also, observations from rounds can be recorded instantly to avoid transcription or recall errors. And, tasks requiring two operators—one in the process area and the other back in the central control room, can often be performed by a single operator.
The article’s author closes:
The increased operational efficiency has helped to reduce operational expenditure, and the return on investment has taken less than six months. The wireless network makes it easy for Langerbrugge to add new mobile worker devices and other wireless applications as and when they are required.
Mobile worker technology has enabled mill operators to combine tasks and react much faster to potential problems. Workers have the ability to move freely around the mill and perform multiple tasks, providing much more variety to their work schedules. This helps to motivate workers resulting in further gains in productivity.
Read the article for more on the technologies and results achieved at this Stora Enso mill. You can also connect and interact with other pulp & paper, wireless and DeltaV experts in the Pulp & Paper, Wireless and DeltaV groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.