Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Plant networking: Natural gas processor realizes production improvements and saves money with wireless technology

March 2, 2011
By Emerson Process Management

Emerson Process Management’s Smart Wireless technology saved Atlas Pipeline – Westex an estimated $725,000 US in installation costs and improved production efficiency at Atlas’ Benedum natural gas processing facility near Midkiff, Texas.

The self-organizing IEC 62591 (WirelessHART) network connects a new plant with an older unit in the same facility. Pulling data from the old plant into the new plant’s control room using conventional wiring was not financially feasible because of the distance and obstacles between the two plants.

“Wireless was our only way to do this project,” said Wayne Wasson of Atlas. “Without it we would have spent three times as much.”

The wireless network includes 99 of Emerson’s Rosemount wireless temperature, pressure, level and discrete-input transmitters that communicate with three Smart Wireless Gateways to collect real-time data from gas processing and storage tanks, cooling towers and compressors. The majority of the wireless devices replaced local indicators in the old plant, while others measure pressure along pipes between the two plants and tank level in the new plant.

Data from the wireless network is integrated into the plant’s DeltaV digital automation system, which monitors and controls critical plant processes. Atlas operators also use AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager predictive maintenance software to actively manage key field devices, like Fisher valves, in both plants. Predictive diagnostics provided through AMS Suite have enabled Atlas to eliminate operator rounds to the old plant, saving multiple trips per day.

“The application gave us a centralized location to view our total plant process,” said Wasson. “Our operators do not have to make rounds to learn about potential problems. They can more efficiently operate the plant by seeing changes and problems when they occur.”

The Smart Wireless network was up and running immediately after installation. It can easily be expanded with the addition of new transmitters.

“Overall installation was easy and seamless, and took about a day to have them all communicating and showing up in the DeltaV system,” Wasson said. “We’re only using one-fifth of the capacity of those gateways. It will be easy to add new points. That’s a real benefit of the self-organizing network.”

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