Solving Business-Critical Issues via Pervasive Sensing

by | Jan 19, 2015 | Industrial IoT, Production

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Editor

The constant improvements in electronics and communications technology has made many things much easier to track, monitor and control.

Emerson's Deanna Johnson

Deanna Johnson
Wireless Marketing Manager Global Solutions

Hazardex: The Advantages of Pervasive SensingIn a hazardex article, The advantages of pervasive sensing, Emerson’s Deanna Johnson describes how sensing technologies, once judiciously used due to installation costs, can be used to solve many challenges in today’s process manufacturing and production facilities.

Deanna opens by defining pervasive sensing:

Pervasive sensing is simply the use of sensors to capture data on anything in a plant that could affect its operation. It is driven to a large extent by the increasing availability of inexpensive sensors – many of them wireless.

She highlights how our automobiles have changed over the years where today’s cars have 15 times the sensors that they did 15 years ago. Some examples include:

Throttle and crankshaft position sensors, along with oxygen sensors, ethanol fuel sensors, injection pressure sensors, engine knock sensors and mass airflow sensors are essential inputs to the engine control computer; they are supplemented by other on-board sensors that aid in maintaining reliability, such as monitoring the levels of engine oil and coolant. They even watch the pressure in each tire, and trigger an alert if pressure drops too low.

For process manufacturers and producers, additional sensors can be used not only to improve process control but also improve:

…worker safety, regulatory compliance, equipment reliability and energy efficiency. It makes it possible to detect and respond to hazards early, protect people and equipment, predict failures and reduce slowdowns and shutdowns. It helps to avoid environmental issues and fines, and to spot potential security threats early.

One of the technology advancements to open up opportunities for pervasive sensing was wireless mesh communications:

A network of small (generally battery-operated) devices communicate with each other and with a central station (Fig. 1); while each device in the network might have a radio range of only a few meters, the devices organise themselves into a self-healing network that can pass messages over considerable distances, route signals around obstacles, and continue to communicate even if several devices go off line.

Deanna notes the importance of applying human centered design principles when these sensing devices are to be used in process-critical (process control and process safety) applications. Sensing devices are typically already connected to the control and safety systems for these applications. Adding more devices needs to not overload operators, but rather inform them of potential situations.

She notes the opportunity to apply pervasive sensing devices in business-critical applications such as site safety, reliability and energy efficiency:

Business-critical data requires a timely response, rather than the immediate response needed by process-critical data. Failure to act on it can lead to things like a plant slowdown or increased energy usage.

Deanna shares examples of business critical applications where advanced sensing can be applied including injection well monitoring replacing manual checks, safety shower monitoring for site safety, leak detection for environmental compliance, pump vibration monitoring and steam trap monitoring for wasted energy.

Read the article for more on each of these examples. Deanna closes:

In the past, pervasive sensing for business-critical applications was impeded by the cost and difficulty of deployment, the complexity of the technology, and the difficulty of accessing and using the resulting data. The cost was high and the information benefit was low. Improvements in instrumentation and analytic software have changed that equation. Pervasive sensing can have profound effects on reliability, safety, efficiency and environmental compliance, and it makes possible analytics-driven predictive maintenance. There is every reason to believe that pervasive sensing will continue to spread through industries of all kinds, where it will have positive impacts on productivity, environmental compliance and profitability.

You can connect and interact with other wireless experts in the Wireless group of the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe for Updates

Follow Us

We invite you to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to keep up to date on all the latest news, events and innovations to help you take on and solve your toughest challenges.

Want to re-purpose, reuse or translate content?

Please do, Just link back to the post and send us a quick note so we can share your work. Thanks!

Our Global Community

Emerson Exchange 365

The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.