Industrial Automation

Wireless Sensor Networks for Industrial Monitoring and Control

Industrial AutomationGreater access to monitoring and control information gives engineers better visibility and ultimately better decision-making power when it comes to industrial environments such as plants, factories, and refineries. 

SmartMesh wireless sensor networks (WSN) are used to dramatically reduce the cost and complexity of applications for a wide variety of applications including process monitoring, process control, machine health monitoring, corrosion detection, and to ensure regulatory compliance.

Benefits of wireless sensor networks for industrial automation and process control:

  • Lowers systems and infrastructure costs with reduced maintenance and elimination of cabling
  • Improves efficiency of materials use by monitoring and predicting requirements
  • Improves process safety by automating activities previously unmanageable with a wired solution

Process Monitoring

The rock-solid reliability and simple installation and management of SmartMesh WirelessHART-enabled solutions lets engineers get the measurements they need, when they need them to improve productivity. And, by leveraging field devices based on the WirelessHART (IEC62591) standard, device commissioning is just as simple as in the wired world—no need for new skills, tools, or consultants. Real-world installations have demonstrated that self-organizing WirelessHART networks provide a 90% reduction in installation cost compared to wired sensors, knocking down the barrier to widespread deployment of sensors in the industrial environment.

For example, the GlaxoSmithKline plant in Cork, Ireland, is a strategic operation, manufacturing many of the active ingredients used in the formulation of prescription drugs. To increase productivity, they added two new water storage tanks.  Wanting to measure water levels and usage, GlaxoSmithKline selected Emerson Process Management’s Rosemount® Smart Wireless flow and pressure transmitters because of the reduced installation costs and because it would be easy to expand the network without disrupting operations or data collection. Using Dust Networks® SmartMesh® technology, the Rosemount Smart Wireless product family created a resilient, reliable and secure wireless mesh sensor network over which to transmit sensor data without digging trenches and laying cable, reducing installation costs significantly. The SmartMesh intelligent network also allowed secure, non-disruptive expansion of the network as needed.  Read the case study.

Machine Health Monitoring

As plant infrastructure ages, equipment failures cause more and more unplanned downtime. The ARC Advisory Group estimates that 5% of production in North America is lost due to unplanned downtime. Wireless makes it economically feasible to monitor many more pieces of plant infrastructure - not just the few deemed critical.

While leading manufacturers fully understand the value of predictive maintenance, until now the challenge has been the sheer impracticality of installing sensors on every piece of aging infrastructure.

Corrosion Detection

Aging pipelines and tanks have become a major problem in the oil and gas industry. Monitoring corrosion using manual processes is extremely costly, time consuming, and unreliable. A network of wireless corrosion sensors can be economically deployed to reliably identify issues before they become catastrophic failures.

Regulatory Compliance

When the world leader in biological specimen management wanted to reduce the use of manual logs in its facility, the company had two objectives in mind: increase productivity and continue to ensure that validation results of each test met stringent FDA requirements.

A SmartMesh-enabled wireless sensor network was selected over a hard-wired solution because it eliminated sterility concerns of hard-to-clean wiring conduit, and provided ease-of-installation when measuring conditions in incubators, refrigeration units, ductwork, and rotating equipment. The system allows technicians to remotely view real-time data and compile historical sensor data, providing considerable savings in time and labor.

Gas Cylinder Consumption Monitoring in Semiconductor Manufacturing

Semiconductor companies carefully manage their semiconductor wafer fabrication facilities ("fabs") to maximize uptime, yield and throughput. Plant operation teams are constantly looking for new ways to squeeze even fractions of a percent more efficiency out of the manufacturing process. At Linear Technology Corporation's Silicon Valley fab, a SmartMesh IP wireless sensor network is used to streamline manufacturing operations - monitoring gas cylinder levels to proactively schedule replenishment and ensure uninterrupted supply. Read the case study.