Technologies continue to be introduced, which impact our lives. In the world of process automation, wireless technologies connecting instrumentation to process automation and asset management systems are impacting the way process manufacturers can operate their plants.
The Emerson European Chemical industries team will be hosting a series of webinars to show ways chemical manufacturers are using these wireless technologies to improve the way they operate their plants. The first one is coming up in a few weeks on July 6th.
I’ll update the post with the link to the WebEx registration once it’s live.
The global economic conditions have reduced consumer spending and business investment, particularly in the automotive and housing sectors. This slowdown has directly impacted chemical manufacturers’ sales and in turn production. During recessionary times, the focus of plants often shifts away from growth toward improving operational efficiency.
At lower production levels, it’s important to squeeze out costs to continue to remain profitable. Areas that might have opportunity for improvement include energy efficiency, maintenance savings, water usage, environmental impact reductions, and improved safety. Also, product margins can be preserved by producing differentiated products.
You may recall Peter Cox, a key member of this team from an earlier post. Through him and the team, I got my hands on early builds of information the Chemical Industry specialists will share in the webinars. They see four key areas where wireless instrumentation can help overall efficiency through: improved reliability, increased production, increased visibility to out-of-reach areas, and leaner operations.
A reliability example they cite is any process that has rotating process units, such as reactors or kilns. Wired approaches are tricky and typically have high mechanical failure rates. For one chemical manufacturer, their rotating reactor had to be shut down 2-3 times per week to repair the instruments and/or associated wiring, which no longer was communicating with a PLC. They mounted two wireless pressure/temperature transmitters, one on each end, which communicated with a Wireless Gateway connected via MODBUS to the PLC. This approach ended the measurement reliability problems and improved the efficiency and quality of the product produced in the reactor.
One other example I’ll share is in increasing visibility. A chemical manufacturer needed a way to keep up-to-date inventory on storage tanks to support their product sales. Because of the remote location of these tanks from the production plant area, wired measurement was prohibitively expensive. Using wireless differential pressure transmitters, they could send accurate tank level measurements to the inventory management system and allow operators to spot problems with the tank more quickly. It also reduced the need to send the operators into this hazardous area to perform manual tank level readings.
Peter shared with me that the webinars would get increasingly specific and more technical on the applications that chemical manufacturers are solving with wireless plant and field network technologies.
Update and Bump: The Chemical webinar page with registration is now open.