Webinar Recording: How to Implement an Industrial Asset Management Program

Webinar Recording: How to Implement an Industrial Asset Management Program

This guest blog post was authored by Chuck Micallef, president of CJM Consulting and marketing lead for FDT North America, in conjunction with an ISA co-hosted webinar detailing the experiences of Dow Chemical Company and how it has successfully implemented an effective asset management and reliability program. This post has been updated with the webinar recording.

Assets come in many forms including physical assets, people assets, legal assets, knowledge assets, property assets and others. Wikipedia defines asset as an economic resource – anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value. Simply stated, assets represent value of ownership that can be converted into cash. Using this definition, the significant number of installed measurement and control devices currently used to monitor and control our manufacturing facilities are assets because they are owned and controlled to produce value. For years, these intelligent assets were configured, installed and basically forgotten. That is, until it failed or caused a failure which might have caused a significant loss of value.

Pharmaceutical Industry

HART_IO_with_MTL_MUX_2_Image1

Image 1

Using field proven intelligent measurement devices and their embedded field communication protocol are examples of assets that should be included in asset management systems and programs along with valves, pumps, motors, mixers and a host of other critical assets. These process and factory automation protocols include EtherNet/IP, FOUNDATION Fieldbus, HART, IOLink, ISA100, Profibus, ProfiNet, and many others.   Intelligent measurement devices communicate their measurement values and device diagnostics using these field communication protocols to connect to control or asset management systems to produce a product or to provide information that contributes to the success and reliability of the operation. Image 1 shows a typical IO panel that includes the 4-20mA measurement signals to a control system and a multiplex that is used to access the intelligent measurement device information.

Over the past 10+ years, tens of millions of intelligent measurement devices and control valve positioners (assets) have been installed but their real asset value remains untapped. In a recent trade publication article, Herman Storey, chief technology officer of Herman Storey Consulting, LLC and an a strong advocate of asset management programs, stated that automated diagnostic capabilities for valves and other field devices available through field communication protocols can provide huge benefits at many levels. Effective diagnostic tools can make these activities quick and easy to perform from a central control facility or even a remote location. The concept of taking the data to an expert instead of taking the expert to the problem is a powerful and underutilized concept, but depends on proper implementation of a good set of diagnostic tools and effective work processes.

Asset Management

According to many users familiar with this topic, the low capital investment costs to add an asset management system vs. the ROI (return on investment) may be a single avoided event such as an unplanned shutdown of the operation. If this is the case, then why are not more operations today aggressively using an asset management system to maximize their assets and improve plant reliability?

Let’s review the lack of asset management systems situation in more detail. The asset management system includes several product categories or components. First, you need intelligent measurement and control devices. Second, there needs to be a communication protocol that provides and delivers the information to the control or asset management system. Third, is the physical connection and integration of the information that allows access to the information and lastly, you will need an asset management system − typically a PC based application which is available from many automation suppliers. Reviewing our list, it seems that the biggest cost is already covered – the thousands of intelligent measurement devices and the connection to a system.

MTL_MUX_Image2

Image 2

If the system is not enabled to access the information, there are many suppliers who provide low cost solutions that give access to the intelligent device information needed for asset management systems. Image 2 is an example of a HART enabled multiplexer used to access and communicate the HART data to an asset management system while the 4-20mA signal continues to contact to the non-HART system. Although it might take some work to get these solutions installed and connected, the investment is relatively small compared to the potential increase in plant reliability they will enable.

As Herman states, “the second part of the lack of asset management problem is management. Technical problems have solutions given management support, but managers have to be rewarded for doing so. That kind of program requires good metrics, good reporting, and effective audits to produce a scorecard. In the absence of a good management system, poor performance is often treated as a technology problem, or just the normal state of things.” Management has to be part of the asset management team in order for the operation to get the real value from their installed assets. This requires an honest and “lead by example” commitment to get educated on the available information from the system and to learn what it takes to interpret and act on the information. Like many things, this is a process and does not happen overnight.

 

For success of asset management in general and IDM (Intelligent Device Management) in particular, a number of technical disciplines and business groups must have a cooperative relationship and work together to achieve common goals. These groups include procurement, project, operations, and maintenance organizations and many of the technical focus areas supporting these business units. If performance measurements and rewards for these businesses are completely independent, asset management will suffer. If KPIs and incentives are done well and technical focus is supported, work processes and tools for asset management can flourish and provide significant risk management and profit for the business units. Management has to provide the environment and reward system where asset management can be successful.

Putting intelligent devices to work effectively is what ISA108 is about. The purpose of ISA108 is to define standard templates of best practices and work processes for implementation and use of diagnostic and other information provided by intelligent field devices in the process industries.

Of course using the right standardized tools that are protocol, device and supplier independent can be one of the many keys to creating an effective and successful asset management program. A large refinery in Hungary uses such tools to improve plant performance. By using these tools, they support the field instrumentation maintenance activity providing the information used to identify the location of an asset problem, for device repair, and by remotely accessing device information, change the device configuration. Using the wealth of available information, their goal was to improve maintenance processes, and human competencies and skills.

In several case studies reviewed for this paper, a “champion” of the asset management cause steps up and initiates the training, investigation or program creation either as a result of their job position or just based on their desire and vision to improve plant reliability.

But, sooner or later management must decide to either remain part of the problem (status quo) or become part of the solution. There is little chance for success of a well designed and implemented asset management initiative without the full support and active participation of management from all levels of the plant organization. The culture and work process changes required to achieve significant change and significant gains are available by creating and using effective asset management but only if management is not an obstacle.

About the Author
Chuck MicallefChuck Micallef is president of CJM Consulting, Inc. and serves as the FDT marketing lead for FDT North America.  He has more than 35 years experience in the process automation industry with a focus on field communications technologies and intelligent measurement and control devices. He is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich.


Connect with Chuck:

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Webinar Recording: How to Implement Proactive Condition-Based Maintenance Strategies

Webinar Recording: How to Implement Proactive Condition-Based Maintenance Strategies

This guest blog post was authored by Ian Verhappen, an automation industry consultant and chairman of the ISA103 Standards Committee for the FDT Group, in conjunction with an ISA co-hosted webinar on proactive condition-based maintenance strategies.

 

According to industry estimates, most installed measurement instruments are “smart.” Smart devices provide more than just the process variable measurement using the 4-20mA signal. In order to maximize your investment in smart measurement devices, better manage your operations, lower your operating costs and improve plant reliability, intelligent information from those devices should be available to operators, technicians and other specialist who can put it to work to better manage the operation. Because without a better view of the diagnostic condition and performance status of your devices, you have limited ability to take proactive action that can have significant, positive impact on plant reliability.

Intelligent Device Information

Smart measuring devices can communicate many categories of information using different field communication protocols. In addition to multiple measurements (with newer devices reporting as many as eight process variables), devices can report important device diagnostics and process information.

Think of the usefulness of the diagnostics in your automobile or your computer: The diagnostic system in your automobile performs hundreds of measurements and adjustments, continuously, to provide a quick indication of the status and potential availability (or lack thereof) of your car. Using device configuration or asset management applications, you can get the same type of diagnostic warnings of device malfunction or status from your installed smart instrumentation.

By improving the view of the condition of a device, you take the important step to make your smart device a specialist in your quest to improve plant reliability. We all know that you cannot continue to do “business as usual” and expect different results. With minimal or non-existing upgrade or process improvement budgets, there is the need to better utilize installed assets. And, rather than chasing arbitrary or forced cost cutting campaigns, focus on getting and using the stranded information sitting in your smart measurement assets.

Scheduled vs Actual Control Valves

Pending diagnostic warnings, however, are only helpful if a warning is investigated, and appropriate action is taken. Your smart measurement device has the ability to provide valuable diagnostics information − but it’s valuable only if you’re checking to see if there is a problem. A PC-based device configuration and management application is a cost-effective solution providing remote access needed to review and analyze potential process problems thus helping you avoid unplanned situations.

Move From Reactive To Proactive

Many newer or updated control and asset management systems enable intelligent device diagnostic information to be accessible and available for immediate use. For those that don’t, there are many different cost-effective products that make access to intelligent device information possible. This diagnostic information enables you to change your maintenance activities from reactive − work on what’s broken − to more proactive or even predictive activities, such as fixing small problems before they turn into bigger problems that may cause an unplanned outage or shutdown.

Imagine the benefits of using real-time device diagnostics to reduce the number of trips to the field, prevent an unscheduled shutdown or reduce the length of a scheduled shutdown. Whether you are part of the reliability, maintenance, process improvement, management or other plant function, putting this valuable information to work can produce big results with relatively small investments and low-risk.

By accessing more information from your smart measurement device than just the process measurement, you are changing how you view that device – making smart installed assets your specialist in the quest for improved plant reliability. Why? Because maintenance costs are driven by device and plant reliability. The higher the reliability, the lower your maintenance costs. Likewise, the lower the plant reliability the higher your maintenance cost (as measured by overall equipment effectiveness or asset utilization) Improved plant reliability typically translates into increased capacity, product quality, availability and even safety!

A Reliability Specialist

In 2002, the MOL Group’s Danube Refinery in Százhalombatta, Hungary, set out to improve profitability using its installed smart technology and only three years later, decided to overhaul its maintenance systems with a new, unified asset management system strategy. The combination of the two has changed the way MOL runs maintenance, and the way it looks at diagnostic data.

The company connected many of the plant’s smart devices, such as control valves and instruments used in critical control loops, directly into the plant’s asset management system. This has resulted in an online diagnostic system in which instrument signals are directly connected to plant maintenance and control systems.

“On-line diagnostics provided by the these instruments does something more than preventive maintenance,” said József Bartók, automation engineer at MOL Danube Refinery. “This ensures the stable operation of the system and increases the precision of control.” Beyond fixing what breaks or keeping the plant running, a reliable, stable operation contributes to bottom-line profitability.

For example, when the head pressure control was slow on one unit, it led to the assumption that a valve was stuck and in need of removal and repair. But technicians, using on-line diagnostic tools, used device diagnostic data to interrogate the valve and found that the cause was damage to the current-to-pneumatic converter in the intelligent positioner − but not the whole valve. Operators put the valve in manual and the fix took a half hour of instrumentation work. This repair saved the plant at least two days of unscheduled downtime, worth at least $834,400.

Before using device diagnostics, about 60 percent of the control valves were selected for repair in a typical plant shutdown. While all faulty valves were likely corrected, others may have been removed unnecessarily due to a lack of data indicating the true health of the device. With device data, the company estimates average savings of $70,000 per unit, per shutdown; it’s no longer necessary to disassemble and repair failure-free control valves during a shutdown. Because their asset management systems were DTM enabled, they were able to work with different field communication protocols and have access to the predictive notifications they needed to avoid unplanned outages.

Having a better handle on valve performance also allows MOL to pull fewer valves at turnaround time, substantially reducing maintenance costs and shortening the time needed before production is resumed. “Ten years ago, we pulled all of the valves,” said Gabor Bereznai, MOL instrumentation and electrical department head. “Now, we pull two dozen instead of 200, saving $20,000 to $70,000 per turnaround. The device configuration and management application provides fast detailed device checks with a visualized faceplate and a simple to understand device overview.”  As shown in Figure 1, there is a significant reduction in the number of control valves that have to be removed, repaired and replaced during a unit turnaround.

Integrate Intelligent Device Diagnostics

The intelligence in your installed smart measurement devices might be one of the most under-utilized assets available in your plant today. By integrating the intelligent device diagnostics into an asset management or automation system, you begin the process of monitoring the device status allowing the opportunity to improve plant reliability. Using solutions available from your automation providers, you will identify minor problems before they become critical − lowering maintenance and operating costs and improving plant reliability.

So take the first step and make your smart assets your new reliability specialist. With device and asset management solutions that range from working with a single device (such as using a handheld or PC-based application) to a fully integrated smart device information implementation in your control, PLC or asset management system, the view of a more reliable plant will come into focus.

About the Author
Ian Verhappen2Ian Verhappen, P.Eng. is an ISA Fellow, ISA Certified Automation Professional (CAP), and a recognized authority on Foundation Fieldbus, industrial communications technologies and process analyzer systems. Ian is an active member of ISA including managing director on the Standards and Practices Board, chair of the ISA103 Standards Committee for the FDT Group, and chair of the Canadian IEC TC65 Standards Committee.  With 30 years of experience in the automation industry, Ian provides consulting services in field level industrial communications, process analytics and heavy oil/oil sands automation.

Are Smart Devices in a Plant Your Most Valuable Assets?

This guest blog post is authored by Ian Verhappen, an automation industry consultant and chairman of the ISA103 Standards Committee for the FDT Group.

Think of the usefulness of the diagnostics in your automobile: Few of us know or even care about the hundreds of functions being carried out by a car’s “brain” under the hood.  On-board diagnostic (OBD) systems give the vehicle owner or repair technician access to the status of the various vehicle subsystems. Modern OBD implementations use a standardized digital communications port to provide real-time data in addition to a standardized series Check engine light in yellow on automobile dashboardof diagnostic trouble codes that allow a technician to rapidly identify and remedy malfunctions or potential problems within the vehicle.

Your car’s “Check Engine” warning indicator, however, is only helpful if the owner recognizes the benefit of being alerted to a pending problem and then takes action to have it investigated.

In an industrial setting, the equivalent of the “Check Engine” light in smart measurement devices is the diagnostic information. Of course, if you don’t know if the warning light is on, you won’t recognize potential problems or communicate them to the people who could use that information to rectify the problem and avoid unplanned situations.

Intelligent Device Diagnostic Information

The type and amount of diagnostic information in your intelligent devices varies by product type and supplier. Diagnostic information − the “hidden asset” − can be grouped into two categories: 1) common/universal attributes; and 2) device specific attributes.  Following is a partial list of examples in each category, so be sure to speak with your device supplier to get the complete list of information and capabilities in each of your intelligent measurement devices:

Common and Universal Attributes – Alerts and Device Status Information

  • Analog and digital process measurement values (PV) do not match: This might indicate condensation (water) in the device housing.
  • Device status alerts: This may indicate a device malfunction, loop current fixed, PV out of limits, maintenance required, etc.
  • Cold start or reset: Potential power failure or loop power supply problems.
  • 30-40 data items: Standard in most devices including four to eight process variables and range values.
  • Remote access: Check all diagnostics from the safety of the control room or instrument shop.

Device Specific Attributes – Device Performance of Process Information

  • Magnetic Flowmeter: Empty pipe detection or coated electrodes, conductivity variations, etc.
  • Pressure Transmitter: Plugged impulse lines, flow rate, internal temperature, etc.
  • pH Analyzer: Electrode performance problems (reference or measurement electrodes).
  • Valve Positioner: Stem position, supply or actuator pressure, total strokes, deviation from SP, etc.
  • Vortex Flowmeter: Shedder bar frequency, flow rate too low.
  • Coriolis Mass Flowmeters: Presence of trapped air, build up, etc.

NAMUR, Europe’s preeminent process automation user association, has published recommendations in a document titled “NE 107, Self-Monitoring and Diagnosis of Field Devices,” which provides guidelines on displays and alerts to help plant operators monitor the status of field devices. By standardizing on the symbols defined in NE 107, operators can get a quick indication of the “Check Engine” status for each of their devices.

One of the greatest benefits of these new NE 107 status functions is the customization available based on the specific application. In general, the manufacturer defines a default mapping but the user can customize the mapping based on plant experience or the specific application. Once the configuration is complete, the status can be simulated so you can verify that the configuration matches your expectations.

The key point is that these intelligent devices can provide the hidden asset in the form of a “Check Engine” light displaying the condition of your critical devices − the ones that can shut your plant down.  A technician can then look at the diagnostic information available in the device to mitigate the situation. Using your DCS or asset management software you can quickly assess the status of your devices saving time and money; and likewise improve your plant’s safety and energy efficiency.

Move From Reactive To Proactive 

In many updated control and asset management systems, intelligent device diagnostic information is accessible and available for immediate use. With all this data, a change in work processes is increasingly important to make the right decisions. Changing your maintenance activities from reactive (work on what is broken) to more proactive or even predictive (fix small problems before they turn into bigger problems) improves production and saves money.

Imagine the benefits of using real-time device diagnostics to reduce the number of trips to the field, prevent an unscheduled shutdown or reduce the length of a scheduled shutdown. Whether you’re part of the reliability, maintenance, process improvement, management or other plant function, putting this valuable information to work can produce big results with relatively small investments and with very low risk.

ISA is in support of open standards such as ISA108 to help with standardized work flow processes to manage field data and ISA103 for easier integration of field  and network information.  By using smart device data, and integrating intelligent device diagnostics into an asset management or automation system, you begin the process of monitoring the “Check Engine” status allowing the opportunity to improve your bottom-line profitability.

Take the first step to discover the hidden asset in your own intelligent measurement devices. Speak with your automation suppliers and learn about new solutions that enhance your facility to take full advantage of the diagnostics in intelligent devices that identify minor problems before they become critical − lowering maintenance and operating costs.

About the Author
Ian Verhappen2Ian Verhappen, P.Eng. is an ISA Fellow, ISA Certified Automation Professional (CAP), and a recognized authority on Foundation Fieldbus, industrial communications technologies and process analyzer systems. Ian is an active member of ISA including managing director on the Standards and Practices Board, chair of the ISA103 Standards Committee for the FDT Group, and chair of the Canadian IEC TC65 Standards Committee.  With 30 years of experience in the automation industry, Ian provides consulting services in field level industrial communications, process analytics and heavy oil/oil sands automation.

How to Build a Successful Project Team in the Automation Industry

The following tip is from the ISA book by Greg McMillan and Hunter Vegas titled 101 Tips for a Successful Automation Career, inspired by the ISA Mentor Program. This is  Tip #46.

101 Tips for a Successful Automation CareerStudy after study has shown that human perception quickly turns into reality. If a class is told they are troublemakers and slow learners, then over time that is exactly what they will become. However, if that same class is treated as an elite group where expectations are high and good grades are simply a given, then that class will usually rise to the occasion and deliver a much higher level of performance.

As a father of two boys I have coached some 30 seasons of soccer teams aged four through fourteen. From the outset I quickly realized that the team’s perception of itself ultimately determined how they would perform. Most new coaches treated the four or five year olds AS four or five year olds and had very low expectations of their abilities. I treated my team as true soccer players, constantly pushing their skills well beyond their years. Imagine a team of four year olds with set plays, moving down the field passing the ball, and everyone knowing they had a job they were expected to perform. We had great fun, and usually kept playing well past practice time because the kids did not want to stop. All the while the kids were learning the game, learning how to play smart, and learning how to win. They were also learning that everyone played a part – even the weaker players had special tasks that were critical to the success of the team. When we walked onto the field the kids KNEW that they could win – and they almost always did. Over 30 seasons the teams chalked up a 90+% win rate. They also learned to win – and lose – with style. They were never allowed to bad-mouth or trash talk the other team, “in your face” goal celebrations were forbidden, and at the end of the game we always shook the other team’s hands, looked them in the eye and said “good game” and meant it – regardless of who won. Many of those same kids went on to play the highest levels of soccer or excel in any number of other athletic endeavors.

Managing a successful project team is really no different.

Concept: Never accept a mediocre effort as “good enough.” Expect and demand the highest quality as a given and consistently demonstrate that by setting a good example as a leader. Teams will usually mirror the work ethic of the leader. If you slack off – so will they.

Details: A successful team usually consists of the following:

• A strong leader – The leader must be good at communication, reasonably familiar with the same skill sets as the team, able to quickly gather information and make a decision, and able to admit when he or she is wrong. Most importantly, the leader must earn the trust and respect of the team. If the leader does not have the team’s trust and respect, the team will almost certainly languish and will ultimately fail.

• Senior team members – Most teams have at least one seasoned team member who is technically skilled in his or her role and comfortable with the leader. Like the team leader, these members must also be willing to lead by example and to help mentor and develop the newer team members.

• Team members – The remaining members must be hard working and must either know their roles or be willing to learn them quickly. All team members should take every opportunity to learn new skills and/or technology whenever possible.

• A winning mindset – The team members must perceive themselves as winners and believe that the project’s ultimate success is essentially a given. Through his or her words and actions, the leader should make certain that the team understands that failure is simply not an option and that the team must do whatever it takes to complete the project on time, on budget, and with a satisfied client. A team that believes it will be successful usually IS successful, and after a chain of successful projects, that team is usually considered the “premier team” of the office/plant. The members are ultimately recognized (and paid) accordingly.

Watch-Outs: As a leader you must remember that it is too easy to delegate the work to the team members and let them carry the load. There is often also a tendency to favor some team members over others and treat them differently. This erodes trust and respect and can quickly poison a team’s dynamic.

The best leaders work as hard as (or harder than) the team, and they are not afraid to jump in and pick up whatever task needs to be done to get the job finished.

Exceptions: Despite all of the politically correct propaganda, everybody is NOT a winner and the skill sets and capabilities of individuals are different. When creating a team, pick those team members that offer the right skills, the necessary technical capabilities, and the ability to work together. Do not be concerned with other people’s perception of what the team mix should be. Some will think the team should consist of members with more seniority, others will say that gender and cultural diversity are most important, and still others will seek to exclude certain groups or individuals. The best team will consist of those team members with the right combination of skills, work ethic, and desire to get the job done. This resulting mix will almost never match what others think it should be.

Insight: The leader sets the stage for the team. If he is lazy the team will likely follow his example. If he is divisive, the members will quickly begin bickering amongst themselves. However, if the leader is respectful, talented, and hardworking and picks the right group of co-workers, project success is virtually assured.

Rule of Thumb: Pick your team members wisely, lead by example, and always convey the highest expectations of performance. Your team will deliver.

Hunter Vegas

About the Author
Hunter Vegas, P.E., holds a B.S.E.E. degree from Tulane University and an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University. His job titles have included instrument engineer, production engineer, instrumentation group leader, principal automation engineer, and unit production manager. In 2001, he joined Avid Solutions, Inc., as an engineering manager and lead project engineer, where he works today. Vegas has executed nearly 2,000 instrumentation and control projects over his career, with budgets ranging from a few thousand to millions of dollars. He is proficient in field instrumentation sizing and selection, safety interlock design, electrical design, advanced control strategy, and numerous control system hardware and software platforms.
Make Sure the Coffee Is Strong and the Pot Brews Quickly on Start-up (career tip)

Make Sure the Coffee Is Strong and the Pot Brews Quickly on Start-up (career tip)

The following tip is from the ISA book by Greg McMillan and Hunter Vegas titled 101 Tips for a Successful Automation Career, inspired by the ISA Mentor Program. Today’s Tip #25 is by Hunter Vegas.

101 Tips for a Successful Automation CareerThis may seem like a crazy tip, but there is a lot more truth in this statement than you might realize. It’s directed to management, but a young engineer may have reason and opportunity to encourage management to do this.

Concept: Simple things like strong coffee and a fast brewing pot seem minor, but during start-up or production outages they can impact productivity and morale a lot more than you might realize. Bringing in a couple of pizzas or a few half-gallons of ice cream costs next to nothing, but it can make a world of difference in the attitudes of the people who are working 24-hour coverage to get a plant started up or back on line.

Details: A start-up or production outage is a hectic, chaotic time. People may be working long hours, patience is short, tempers flare, and the pressure mounts as everyone struggles to stay on schedule and resolve the myriad of unexpected problems that invariably crop up. With so much going on, anything management can do to ease the situation and improve morale is a worthwhile thing. Bringing in donuts in the morning or pizzas or subs at lunch is definitely appreciated by the crew. Some companies have “ice cream socials” during the shift change meeting. Do SOMETHING to show that the company appreciates the extra effort.

Watch-Outs: Do not forget the night crew, the off shifts, and even the contractors. Arranging food for these groups can be logistically more challenging, but the negative effect of NOT including them is great – not to mention being unfair to them.

Exceptions: The biggest risk to this idea is setting a precedent where people simply begin to take the food for granted. If possible, arrange the special meals irregularly enough that their arrival is still a surprise.

Insight: As crazy as it might seem, a fast brewing coffee pot and easy to use coffee pouches probably create a measurable improvement in the productivity of an engineering office as well. It would be an interesting study to find out how much time is wasted sitting around the coffee pot waiting for it to brew and talking about last night’s ball game.

Rule of Thumb: Take the time (and spend the money) to show appreciation to the crews on a start-up or during a major production outage. These people are under a great deal of stress and deserve the recognition.

Look for another tip next Friday.

Hunter Vegas

About the Author
Hunter Vegas, P.E., holds a B.S.E.E. degree from Tulane University and an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University. His job titles have included instrument engineer, production engineer, instrumentation group leader, principal automation engineer, and unit production manager. In 2001, he joined Avid Solutions, Inc., as an engineering manager and lead project engineer, where he works today. Vegas has executed nearly 2,000 instrumentation and control projects over his career, with budgets ranging from a few thousand to millions of dollars. He is proficient in field instrumentation sizing and selection, safety interlock design, electrical design, advanced control strategy, and numerous control system hardware and software platforms.

Analysis of Wireless Industrial Automation Standards: ISA-100.11a and WirelessHART

This is an excerpt from the November/December 2012 InTech Web Exclusive feature by Márcio S. Costa and Jorge L. M. Amaral. For the entire article, please see the link at the bottom of this post.

ISA-100.11a network

The use of wireless transmission is part of everyone’s life. Every day, companies develop and update products with wireless capabilities. The benefits of mobility make the use of wireless equipment almost a necessity.

The online life is now possible not only through computer desktops but also through cell phones, tablets, notebooks, and TVs, which makes wireless transmission the first choice of the communication interface.

When one looks to the industrial environment, it is natural to ask if the “wireless wave” will reach industrial applications to be used in automation and instrumentation projects. This question will only be answered in the future. However, when one looks to the near past, very few people could have imagined a scenario in which wireless communication took over the world. So, it is reasonable to assume a similar speed of change will occur within a few years in industrial automation.

The use of wireless networks in industrial automation has increased in the past few years. It can be explained due to several advantages wireless technology presents, such as the reduction of time and cost to install new devices, since there is no need to provide a cabling infrastructure, along with the possibility of installing new devices in hard-to-reach or hazardous areas and the flexibility to alter existing designs.

With adopting wireless technology, many important requirements should be considered regarding the solutions presented by the new standards, protocols, methodologies, and support tools. The most important requirements are: reliability, security, robustness, determinism, quality of service (QoS), interoperability, integration with existing systems, networks with large amount of devices (scalability), and support tools for designing the network layout, process information, and monitoring.

Various solutions (proprietary or not) exist in the market to issues with using wireless transmission in an industrial environment. ISA-100.11a and WirelessHART are two of the most important standards available focused on applications of wireless networks in process automation. This article describes the main features and the solutions adopted, in order to facilitate the comparison between them. The article also briefly discusses some open issues that will have to be addressed in future versions of these standards.

To read Márcio Costa and Jorge Amaral’s full article, click here.

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