Simple Apps and Wireless Sensors for Effective Monitoring

Emerson's Brian Joe

Effective monitoring requires good measurement, effective analytics to help understand the measurement, and clear guidance for action to resolve the issue. For manufacturing and production facilities already instrumented for process control, adding measurements can be difficult due to existing wiring infrastructure.

In an article, Apps Simplify Wireless Monitoring, Emerson’s Brian Joe describes how the combination of additional wireless measurements and mobile device enabled apps provide easily accessible and power monitoring capabilities outside the traditional control, safety and data acquisition systems. Apps Simplify Wireless MonitoringBrian opens noting the issue with adding measurements for monitoring beyond what may be already installed. The project team:

…had to wire the new instruments to the existing 4-20mA or fieldbus I/O system. If the existing system was full, this required new cabling, conduit, junction boxes, marshalling cabinets and/or input cards. In some cases, adding a single wired instrument could cost $15,000 or more in labor, materials, new wiring, additional input cards, etc.

By contrast:

…wireless instrumentation and low-cost apps make it possible to monitor pumps, steam traps and other equipment for a fraction of the previous cost, and in much less time.

The wireless instruments form a communications mesh to supply process variable and diagnostic information back to the gateway, which then connects to system such as a historian, control or data acquisition system. To give meaning to this information:

Software applications, or “apps,” collect the raw data from these monitoring points and perform analytics to determine the condition of plant equipment and assets. This allows users greater visibility into operations, enabling improved reliability and energy efficiency.

These applications:

…utilize pre-built analytics with embedded domain expertise to diagnose the health of plant assets. The resulting information and insights can be accessed and visualized on a web-user interface running on PCs, laptops, tablets or smartphones…

For example, each app addresses specific assets—such as steam traps, pumps, heat exchangers and other items—with simple and inexpensive plug-in solutions. These apps run independently of a plant’s control system. The app package is provided as a “virtual machine,” making it simple to install, easy to manage and available to multiple users simultaneously. No specific hardware is needed—only the virtualization environment.

Read the article for more as Brian describes four specific examples: steam trap monitoring, heat exchanger monitoring, pump monitoring and corrosion monitoring. He concludes:

Wireless instrumentation and accompanying apps simplify the installation, configuration and maintenance of equipment monitoring systems. These systems can be brought online in hours or days rather than months, and often at a fraction of the cost of traditional wired instrumentation coupled with large and complex analysis software. In many cases, payback is achieved in a matter of months, and an initial system can be installed at minimal cost to prove viability.

You can connect and interact with other reliability, maintenance and wireless experts in the Reliability & Maintenance and Wireless groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

Posted Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 under Asset Optimization, Wireless.

One comment so far

  1. jonasberge says:

    These apps will change condition monitoring forever. Condition monitoring is no longer only reserved for large expensive turbo machinery. Now you can do it on smaller equipment like pumps and heat exchangers, even little steam traps. The apps are ready-made, so no expensive custom software development a’la ERP. The apps are platform independent, so you don’t have to invest in another middleware platform, they simply plug into your existing platform such as historian or DCS using OPC-UA to aggregate data from multiple underlying sources as well as direct from wireless sensors through the gateway. This again saves tons of money. The apps are purpose-built for condition monitoring of specific classes of equipment, it is not general purpose data analytics, which means the users don’t have to be data scientists, these apps can be used by reliability and maintenance engineers and technicians. Learn more from this essay:

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