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Emerson wireless network saves rotating reactor

Australian-owned Coogee Chemicals realises the benefits of wireless technology for monitoring moving equipment, writes Scott Wilson.

Coogee Chemicals’s Kwinana plant required a system that would prevent breakdowns on its rotating reactor. formerly using instruments that failed quite frequently, the organisation was periodically faced with lost production and associated repair costs.

Ahead of the game

Coogee Chemicals has been a privately-owned company, headquartered in Kwinana, Western Australia, since 1971. The company produces a wide range of industrial, agricultural, and mineral process chemicals for ustralian and International markets, so increased uptime is paramount to its processes.

The firm decided to implement a wireless system designed by Emerson Process Management. A network of Emerson Smart Wireless instruments on the rotating reactor at Kwinana now help to deliver reliable pressure and temperature measurements, preventing frequent reactor breakdowns and lost production time, said electrical project officer, Noel Shrubsall.

Control of the process and product quality have also been improved, with the company being able to track productivity levels which have increased substantially since the wireless instruments were installed in late 2007, according to Shrubsall.

“The Smart Wireless solution provides a means of obtaining accurate pressure and temperature measurements from the moving vessel without having to connect wires to the measurement devices,” Shrubsall said.

No wires, no worries

The installation at Coogee Chemicals consists of two wireless instruments mounted on one end of a rotating chem­ical reactor and transmitting pressure and temperature data continuously to a nearby Smart Wireless Gateway. The data is passed from the gateway via Modbus communications to the programmable logic controller (PLC) controlling the process. More reliable inputs enable the PLC to improve both process control and product quality.

“We are very impressed with this wire­less technology, the way it communicates, and its reliability,” Shrubsall said. The self-organising technology complies with the WirelessHART stan­dard. Each wireless device in a self-organ ising network can act as a router for other nearby devices, passing messages along until they reach their destination.

As conditions change or obstacles are encountered in a plant, such as temporary scaffolding, new equipment, or a parked construction trailer, these wireless networks are designed to simply reor­ganise and find a way.

All of this happens automatically, without any involvement by the user, providing redundant communication

paths and better reliability than direct, line-of-sight communications between individual devices and their gateway. This self-organising technology is designed to optimise data reliability while minimising power consumption. It also reduces the effort and infrastructure necessary to set up a successful wireless network.

[Scott Wilson is the business manager for Rosemount at Emerson Process Management.]

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