Pharmaceutical Wireless Instrumentation Retrofits

Emerson's Michalle Adkins


Emerson's Dan Carlson


Many industries have benefitted from the use of wireless instrumentation, but how about the pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturing industries? Are there applications which might improve the performance of their operations?

In a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing article, Retrofitting Pharmaceutical Processes with WirelessHART Instrumentation, Emerson’s Michalle Adkins and Dan Carlson describe ways that these additional measurements and final control elements can help to improve yield, quality and uptime.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: Retrofitting Pharmaceutical Processes with WirelessHART InstrumentationMichalle and Dan open:

Pharmaceutical companies are under the same pressures as many other industries to improve operations, produce associated documentation, ensure quality products, reduce maintenance and other operating costs, and maintain a safe facility. One way to accomplish these objectives is via an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) strategy using a digital ecosystem to monitor processes and assets, analyze the data, and take steps to improve and optimize equipment operation and processes.

They describe the components in a WirelessHART installation including WirelessHART instruments, a gateway to receive the data from these instruments, a wired connection from the gateway to the control system and analytic software to help with decision support based on the data flowing from these devices.

Michalle and Dan highlight three valuable applications—mobile monitoring, cleanability and equipment monitoring. Some pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturing facilities have portable equipment, which is:

…very difficult with wired instrumentation, but it is a simple matter for WirelessHART, even if the mobile equipment is being moved through several different areas or floors of a building… With wireless, if a portable process tank is moved to a refrigerated area, the temperature in the tank can still be monitored to ensure there are no excursions.

They share an example of a manufacturing with a mobile skid requiring moves between 5 floors and never losing contact with the control system since wireless networks provided coverage at each level.

Read the article for their examples of cleanability and equipment monitoring. From a process retrofit standpoint, WirelessHART devices:

…can also be retrofitted on existing processes to provide control systems with additional parameters. Because the instruments provide a HART-compatible signal, the gateway can make the information available to any legacy control system using standard HART data protocols.

An example is:

…using the Rosemount 648 [hyperlink added] wireless temperature sensor with X-Well technology. For the first time, a highly accurate process temperature can be achieved without the need for a thermowell or intrusion. The instrument clamps on and uses measurements of the pipe surface temperature, ambient temperature and thermodynamic properties to create precise process temperature measurements.

Michalle and Dan conclude:

Wireless is often the best way to retrofit and modernize an existing pharmaceutical manufacturing plant’s instrumentation system. Wireless instruments and a wireless infrastructure are cost-effective to install and don’t introduce issues with cleanliness, like additional wires or penetrations in a clean room. Such a system can be used to monitor “anything, anywhere,” because the instruments require no wiring, cable, conduit or electrical power, and can therefore be installed on any piece of equipment, fixed or mobile.

You can connect and interact with other pharmaceutical & biotech and wireless experts in the Life Sciences and Wireless groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.