Plant Deployment Demonstrates Wireless Standard
Installation in a brownfield chemical plant shows interoperability within ISA100.11a and practicality for instrumentation improvements in long-established operations.
New technologies are typically launched with a demonstration project that puts the equipment to work in a real-life plant environment. In what may be one of the fastest deployment projects, the ISA100.11a Wireless Compliance Institute (WCI) has completed an installation of a fully operational wireless instrumentation network following the new standard at the Arkema organic peroxide plant in Crosby, TX.
This project was already operating even though the standard had been ratified for less than a month. It involves a group of specific monitoring points in the brownfield plant that were either inadequately instrumented or where the company wants to expand coverage into new areas. According to WCI, the devices are deployed in several areas:
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500,000 gallon firewater tank : Wireless level sensor ensures firewater tank is full at all times;
Cold storage : Wireless temperature and door sensors provide central reporting of exception conditions at cold storage warehouses;
Wastewater tank : There is a wired level sensor on a wastewater tank that feeds its values into a satellite control room close to the tank, but not the central control room. To provide central visibility to this information, an ISA100.11a adaptor sends the data to the central control room; and
Gas sensor : One wireless SO2 sensor was installed alongside an existing wired sensor. Following a successful pilot, wireless gas sensing can be expanded.
“It’s a great opportunity to discover this new technology and understand what it can bring to our operations,” says Didier Auber, the Arkema Crosby plant manager. “With the standard ratified, multiple vendors supporting, and big industry players coming on board, the ISA100.11a standard is here to stay so we can develop and grow its use in our plant.”
Sensors from additional WCI supplier members will be added to the network starting in October 2009 as part of the ongoing Arkema user deployments. Auber and his team are exploring where these devices can be used, bearing in mind that individual applications do not need to be related to operate on the same wireless network. There is even the opportunity to mo
ve some devices, such as a temperature transmitter, to take readings in different locations as needed.
100.11a as a multi-vendor platform
In many respects, for the demonstration the specific applications of the devices themselves are not as important as what the project shows. The point that WCI is trying to prove is that ISA 100.11a can be a multi-vendor platform with full interoperability. The devices in this case are made by Honeywell, Yokogawa, and Gastronics, with the wireless infrastructure provided by Honeywell and Nivis.
WCI members make the point that while these individual devices were essentially hand-made, the communication stacks and testing tools were already complete before the final ratification, so the transmitters were tested and are fully compliant with the standard.
“The transmitters installed at Arkema have been tested and approved for ISA100.11a compliance using the WCI’s Device Interoperability Test Kit (ITK),” says Jay Werb, WCI technology director. “The ITK is a hardware/software tool using XML scripts which emulate the operation of an ISA100.11a system manager in a transparent and vendor-independent manner. The ITK is being packaged for commercial release in early 2010.”
The companies participating in the demonstration wanted to make sure that the system showed all the critical operational elements, including device level meshing. This networking architecture is designed to be a one-hop topology, although devices can send signals through the mesh if a direct connection with the gateway is not possible at any given time. Working with Arkema, the participants had to create a barrier using some strategically placed steel shipping containers to disrupt the radio connection, but the system responded as expected and routed the transmission around the impediment.
At present, the wireless devices feed into a separate monitoring point, but Arkema expects to integrate them fully into its main control architecture as well as adding more devices as they become available.
Peter Welander is process industries editor. Reach him at PWelander@cfemedia.com .