Wireless Aids Chemical, Steel, Rail Applications

Smart wireless solutions helping chemical, steel, and rail applications were discussed in Emerson's recent Global Users Exchange Conference

Several users implemented Emerson Process Management’s Smart Wireless in their applications and facilities, and reported on their experiences at Emerson’s recent Global Users Exchange conference. These solutions also use wireless technology from Dust Networks:

PPG Industries used Smart Wireless at its Chemical Division in Lake Charles, La., after PPG’s cross-functional process and corporate IT team tested the self-organizing, wireless solution. The plant uses 10 wireless Rosemount transmitters for pipeline and steam header temperature measurement, which lets operators watch for cold spots and adjust steam throughput. Wireless transmitters allow PPG to install instrumentation that normally would be cost-prohibitive at its 765-acre facility, which is dense with pipes, buildings and equipment.

The firm estimates installing wired instruments would have cost $20 per foot just for wiring and conduit. PPG also is using wireless to improve operations by capturing and using new data. “When Emerson first approached me with its wireless solution and said ‘We’re plug-and-play,’ I have to admit I laughed,” says Tim Gerami, PPG’s senior design engineer. “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.”

Likewise, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. in Wheeling, W.V., installed Smart Wireless to help it produce carbon, flat-rolled products. Wireless transmitters deliver previously unobtainable data on conditions in the company’s 80-in. hot-strip mill in Mingo Junction, Ohio. Smart Wireless serves in the mill’s roughing and finishing sections, where the self-organizing network receives data via one gateway and delivers it to the Pi data historian for trending and alarming. “Wireless transmitters are being installed further away from the gateway without a loss of signal quality,” says Gary Borham, Wheeling-Pittsburgh’s operations manager. “The result is better information from difficult-to-reach areas of the mill."

Borham says the initial wireless installation included four Rosemount wireless dP transmitters with Annubars as the primary flow elements and one 1420 gateway that were communicating in less than 24 hours. The resulting data enabled the operators to get firm control of the volume of water being sprayed onto the hot steel surfaces on the run-out table in order to achieve specified coiling temperatures. “Now, the actual water flow is known, making it possible to always attain the optimum coiling temperature,” adds Borham.

In addition, Smart Wireless helps Croda Inc. monitor chemical temperatures in three often-relocated railcars at its plant in Mill Hall, Pa., where a wireless temperature transmitter on each car sends minute-by-minute temperature readings to a central host. Croda uses this information to improve overall plant safety by notifying operators of any unexpected temperature increases, while also saving the company about $15,000 per year in maintenance costs. Previously, an employee had to climb to the top of each car daily to record the temperatures, which could be dangerous in wet or icy conditions. The transmitters communicate through a 1420 gateway (receiver), and then to the plant's DeltaV control system. “No matter where a railcar is positioned on-site, the quality of the transmissions is unaffected, and the signals integrate seamlessly into our control system,” says Denny Fetters, Croda’s instrument and electrical designer.