4 Steps in Improving Operational Performance with Wireless Instrumentation

Emerson's Brian Joe

Standards-based wireless instrumentation for the process industries recently hit its 10-year anniversary. These devices are being used to fill in measurement gaps to improve safety, reliability and efficiency.

Plant Engineering: Implementing wireless process sensingIn a Plant Engineering article, Implementing wireless process sensing, Emerson’s Brian Joe outlines 4 steps in justifying and installing a wireless sensing network.

Brian opens describing the increasing performance pressures manufacturers and producers face:

…to increase production, make processes more efficient, reduce energy usage, cut maintenance costs, improve safety, and meet dozens, if not hundreds, of federal, state, and local regulations.

The 4-step process starts with identifying areas for improvement, to determine:

…the economic value associated with improved operational visibility. For example, what’s it worth to know an asset is about to fail or is operating inefficiently?

Plant staff can work with wireless system supplier experts to:

…walk the site and/or review P&ID [piping and instrumentation diagram] drawings; examine equipment and processes; note available instrumentation, wiring, and input/output (I/O) infrastructure; and evaluate areas for improvement. The experts identify areas where improvements will result in a quick return on investment (ROI), such as monitoring steam traps or pressure relief valves.

Next step, acquire data. It’s important to execute:

…a strategy where wireless sensors are used to acquire data from all parts of the plant at a reasonable cost. Many older, existing plants could benefit from adding many more measurement points, given the proven financial benefits.

Collecting the data does not translate into improved performance unless you take the next step—analyze data. Using purpose-built apps accessible on a PC, tablet or smartphone:

…takes data from the wireless gateway or other data and monitoring systems. And each app addresses specific equipment, such as steam traps, pumps, heat exchangers, or pressure relief devices, with simple, inexpensive, plug-in solutions that can run independent of a plant’s control system. These apps use pre-built analytic models and strategic interpretation to turn the raw data into information that plant personnel can use to make decisions and take action.

With the analytics to help make decisions, the fourth and final step is to take corrective action. Read the article to see examples Brian shares in improving energy efficiency by monitoring steam traps, reducing fugitive emissions and improving energy efficiency, acoustically monitoring pressure relief devices (PRDs), and more examples.

You can also connect and interact with other wireless instrumentation and operational improvement experts in the Wireless and Improve & Modernize groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

Posted Tuesday, December 19th, 2017 under Wireless.

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