Home / ANALYSIS / The instrumentation industry is going wireless

The instrumentation industry is going wireless

by Jyotsna Ravishankar on Jan 9, 2013

Magnetrol's level and flow controls  are at the cutting edge of industrial process measurement.
Magnetrol's level and flow controls are at the cutting edge of industrial process measurement.

The refining and petrochemicals industry is driven by performance like all industries. Efficient production is absolutely key to all companies, especially in the highly competitive Middle East market.

But equally important to maximizing output, is monitoring it.

The correct instrumentation is absolutely essential to smooth operations as keeping an eye on your assets throughout the supply chain is crucial to ensuring uninterrupted production. 

In the past, most companies provided corrective maintenance on their assets: other than during routine check-ups, repairs were only made when a problem was detected.

According to a Fieldbus Foundation presentation by Hemal Desai, technology head for Endress+Hauser India, the global process industry loses $20 billion, or five per cent of annual production, due to unscheduled downtime and poor quality.

But smarter technology is continuously improving the way operators manage their instrumentation and tackle these avoidable problems.

“The trend is towards intelligent and self-learning sensors with integrated diagnosis functions to ensure permanent and maintenance free production processes,” says Sebastian Harbig, key accounts manager for VEGA’s German oil and gas market.

And David Hewitt, business development manager for Endress + Hauser’s petrochemical & chemical division, agrees. The future of instrumentation will be ‘predictive maintenance’, he says. Companies will begin to use devices that detect themselves and can inform maintenance providers of upcoming problems in advance.

For example, Endress + Hauser offers ‘Fieldcare’, an independent open vendor software for device integration. Fieldcare is designed as a monitoring system for different communication protocols and can combine a range of different products, sensors, drives and valves allowing operators to improve maintenance capacity.

According to Hewitt, self-monitoring will enable filed devices to provide information about their own status, it will primarily be used to check the plausibility of sensor measurements and actuator function, which will prevent adverse influences on product quality or even total plant failures caused by field instrumentation failures.

Also, determining a device’s wear-reserve, will help a company to conduct status-related maintenance as opposed to just scheduled servicing at specified intervals.
In addition to the introduction of self-monitoring systems, wireless communications have been transforming the way in which operators can monitor facilities.

“Wireless is the next big thing. Customers are getting excited to see the benefits of “no wires, no limits,” says Adam Wright, Marketing Manager for Rosemount at Emerson Process Management Middle East & Africa.

“Very little time is needed to add extra measurement points in any part of the plant. We can measure almost all process parameters wirelessly now and it is allowing our customers to be a lot more flexible in optimising their plant control.”

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