Will wireless instrumentation drive wider sensor deployments?
One of the questions that many control engineers in process environments have probably wanted to ask is how broadly has wireless instrumentation been deployed in the real world. For competitive reasons, most companies in this area of the instrumentation business have been tight-lipped about actual numbers. But last month, Emerson Process Management got pretty specific when Bob Karschnia announced at the user group meeting that the company will reach about 100,000 devices sold by the end of 2013, more or less, and that the aggregate number of operating hours of all the devices now installed has passed 1 billion.
Emerson’s contention is that this technology is now mainstream. As Karschnia points out, it is proven in use so there should be little concern for those who are still asking, “Does it work?” He also expects that having the ability to install sensing devices without wires will drive more companies to use instrumentation in new places, even to the point of saying that growth is a critical element of the company’s business plan. Emerson’s expectation is that the ability to deploy devices without having to add wiring could push users to increase tag counts on the order of 25% to 50%.
Time will tell. The number of tag counts in a typical process plant has been increasing for some time, but this technology may push it to a new level. The larger question may relate to the ability for a given company to use the information these devices generate. Data alone isn’t the answer if it can’t be put to use. Helping you do that is probably also part of the business plan.
Peter Welander, firstname.lastname@example.org