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Wireless solution monitors remote reaction tank

14 January 2009

Emerson Process Management has established a successful wireless network to monitor pressures and temperatures at a remote location in the Nu-West Industries phosphate-based fertiliser plant in Soda Springs, Idaho, USA.

Wireless solution monitors Remote Reaction Tank
Wireless solution monitors Remote Reaction Tank

The self-organising Smart Wireless system provides accurate minute-by-minute readings from 16 measurement points on a reaction tank located about 60 metres from the central control room.

Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology was selected by Nu-West, a subsidiary of Agrium US, because it proved to be the easiest to install, most secure, and most reliable solution to the problem of retrieving essential operating information at an extended distance. The remote tank is 12 metres high and has four different beds of gases used to react with certain process chemicals. Even though this is not classified as a hazardous area, the tank layout and distance involved made running wires to the tank and mounting instruments both difficult and expensive.

“Hard wiring this installation would have been very challenging due to the location of the vessel,” according to Brian Wood, DCS Specialist at the Nu-West plant. “Given the low-risk and simplicity of the application, this seemed an ideal place to try Emerson’s wireless package. The self-organising architecture was the clincher since less than perfect line-of-sight to each device is not a concern with this system. We already have plans to add more devices to the network.”

Each wireless device in a self-organising network can act as a router for other nearby devices, passing messages along until they reach their destination. If there is an obstruction, transmissions are simply re-routed along the mesh network until a clear path to the Smart Wireless Gateway is found. As conditions change or new obstacles are encountered in a plant, such as temporary scaffolding, new equipment, or a parked construction trailer, these wireless networks simply reorganise and find a way.

All of this happens automatically, without any involvement by the user, providing redundant communication paths and better reliability than direct, line-of-sight communications between individual devices and their gateway. This self-organising technology optimises data reliability while minimising power consumption. It also reduces the effort and infrastructure necessary to set up a successful wireless network.

Transmissions from the remote tank at Nu-West are received by a Smart Wireless Gateway and channelled via the PlantWeb digital plant architecture to the DeltaV automation system where the AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager software recognises readings that are out of the norm, enabling operators to take action to control the reactions in the tank.

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