Practical applications: Vendors unveil wireless solutions that manufacturers find useful
The possibilities for deploying wireless technology in production settings are growing as vendors are now developing specific, manufacturing-centric applications on top of wireless platforms.
Two recent examples:
• Honeywell has introduced an equipment health-monitoring (EHM) application that runs on its OneWireless mesh network.
• Apprion , which offers wireless network management technology specifically for process-oriented manufacturers, has added video monitoring capabilities to its Intelligent Operations Network (ION) system .
Honeywell claims facilities that already have its OneWireless mesh network installed can add the EHM solution in four hours or less, gaining a cost-effective and efficient alternative to the manual inspections that many manufacturers currently employ to monitor the health of equipment such as pumps, compressors, and motors.
“Wired equipment instrumentation solutions provide effective condition monitoring, but the equipment and installation costs may be impractical, and the few wireless alternatives are very limited in functionality and the information they provide,” says Jeff Becker, global wireless business director for Honeywell Process Solutions. “OneWireless EHM provides all the information needed to pinpoint problems before equipment failure. It acts as another set of eyes in the field and helps technicians better anticipate maintenance and avoid downtime.”
Becker says companies purchasing the OneWireless EHM solution will get everything necessary to capture and analyze equipment health information—including data-acquisition equipment, database management software, and installation services.
The EHM software is programmed to deduce situations such as probable bearing defects, misalignment, pump cavitations, and impeller wear. The software can translate that data into alarms that can be configured to appear in the plant’s distributed control system (DCS) and Honeywell’s asset management platform.
In addition to stand-alone OneWireless EHM components, Honeywell currently offers OneWireless EHM starter kits that contain everything necessary to wirelessly monitor between four and eight plant assets.
Apprion was founded with a mission of developing wireless networking solutions specifically for process manufacturers, according to Ian McPherson, the company’s VP of network architecture. Apprion’s flagship ION System offers capabilities for monitoring, managing, and ensuring the security of wireless devices and applications within a manufacturing environment.
Typically, Apprion forms alliances with industrial automation vendors like Honeywell, Siemens , Invensys , and Yokogawa , to ensure those companies’ wireless plant-management devices can operate within Apprion’s networking infrastructure.
McPherson says embedding video management capabilities in its network management platform is the first step in Apprion’s migration into the applications realm. “We are not planning to become a DCS vendor,” McPherson stresses. “But we will offer some specific applications that our customers request.”
He says the video monitoring solution arose from customers wanting greater visibility into remote sites or potentially hazardous areas of production facilities.
“Customers were saying they either wanted more information about those areas or a way to see into them,” McPherson says.
With the Apprion video-management solution, manufacturers can install off-the-shelf Internet-ready video cameras in any location they wish to monitor. The Apprion software controls the cameras and allows any authorized users to see what is happening in the monitored area through an Internet connection. Network administrators can set the system to signal alarms when conditions that the system is guarding against occur.
“This is being deployed in places like tank farms for leak detection, or in remote sites where security is a concern and management wants to be able to see who is entering the facility,” McPherson says.
Vendors are likely to continue coming up with new wireless applications. As McPherson notes, “Wireless technology is a great tool, but the applications are what provide the real value.”