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Now I’m a believer

01 September 2008

Design engineers at PPG Chemical Division were a little sceptical when they chose smart wireless solutions for temperature profiling and tank level measurement. But the self-organising mesh networks were on line five minutes after installation and they continue running without maintenance

The wireless field network at PPG was up and running in five minutes
The wireless field network at PPG was up and running in five minutes

PPG Industries has installed and commissioned Emerson Process Management's Smart Wireless solution at its expansive Chemical Division facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The production installation follows field trials of Emerson's self-organising wireless networks conducted by a PPG cross-functional process and corporate IT personnel team. The team verified the reliability and coexistence performance of the network, and also deployed it in the plant.

Tim Gerami, senior design engineer at PPG explained: “When Emerson first approached me with their industrial wireless solution, they said 'We're plug and play'. I have to admit I laughed; nothing I'd seen so far was that easy. But I'm a believer now. Five minutes after installing it, the wireless network came to life. It's been there ever since."

The plant's Smart Wireless network uses ten wireless Rosemount transmitters for pipeline and steam header temperature measurement, which enables operators to watch for cold spots and adjust steam throughput. PPG also plans to use the Smart Wireless solutions to do temperature profiling of the entire expansive plant, enabling load sharing and balancing to maintain superheated steam plant-wide.

PPG has also commissioned eight wireless Rosemount transmitters on the self-organising mesh for tank level measurements to provide backup of primary radar level measurements, helping ensure level control.
Wireless transmitters allow PPG to install instrumentation that would normally be cost-prohibitive in the plant that covers approximately 765 acres and is dense with pipes, buildings and equipment. PPG estimates installation costs for wired instruments that include near $20 per foot for wiring and conduit. These wireless measurements have the potential to increase process reliability and provide low-cost redundant measurement.

Emerson's Smart Wireless solution is an extension of the PlantWeb digital plant architecture, combining highly reliable, smart monitoring devices with wireless transmitters in an innovative self-organising mesh network that automatically adapts as device points are added or removed, or obstructions encountered. The network, which uses Time Synchronised Mesh Protocol (TSMP) technology, has been extensively tested in real-world environments.

PPG is using wireless to make operational improvements by capturing and using new data, and is also anticipating cost advantages.

“Maintenance on the Emerson network?” questioned Reese Borel, process control specialist at PPG. “I haven't had to do any. It just runs.”

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