Europe / Middle East / Africa
Lafarge using wireless to monitor critical instruments
Jul, 10 2012
(UK) -- Bristol, UK – Lafarge Plasterboard can monitor critical field instruments remotely from the plant control room following the introduction of FieldKey wireless adapters from ABB.
The installation of several commercial FieldKey units at the Bristol factory follows a trial of prototype wireless adapters from ABB early last year.
The devices are used to check the performance of critical instruments, and are moved around the site to monitor any instruments that engineers suspect may be experiencing a problem.
“We would previously have had to physically go to each instrument and pull off the information onto a laptop,” said electrical technician Matthew Pepper. “Now we can interrogate instruments remotely, which is especially helpful where access is an issue.”
“We’re using the adapters to check that there are no system faults on the instruments, check calibrations and make fine-tuning adjustments.
According to Pepper, the Lafarge operation is not currently looking to use wireless for process control on its existing production operations but will consider them in future installations.
FieldKey adapters, said ABB, fit to any instruments equipped with 4-20mA HART communications. On the Lafarge site, it noted, they are used with equipment from at least three different manufacturers.
The adapters are small and have a rotating antenna, enabling them to be fitted into extremely tight spaces if necessary. They also use energy harvesting, taking power from the 4-20mA loop, so they don’t need batteries.
The devices transmit the data from the instruments to a wireless gateway, which has an Ethernet port to allow access to process recorders and asset management systems. In the case of Lafarge, the FieldKey adapters are integrated with the company’s existing PACTware asset management system.
“The Lafarge site is a challenging place to install a wireless solution because it’s very big,” said Pepper. “We also have a lot of high-level steelwork that could disrupt the signal between the FieldKey units and the wireless gateway. We could always contact ABB for help when we needed to.”
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