Wireless technology can have a huge impact on your process reliability. When a company develops a Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) program, it must first understand the current status of its reliability. It must also formulate the desired status. The process requires the collection of a significant amount of information. Furthermore, the data must be analyzed. This process can be rather revealing. Along with rotating equipment, which tends to be the main focal point of a reliability program, process reliability must also be addressed. Unfortunately, you may not have the ability to measure all of the process information you want.
A process plant is generally constructed with the minimal amount of instrumentation needed to meet specification and provide safe operation. Over time a small amount of instrumentation will be added as more process data is desired. However, there continues to be a significant number of data points missing which are needed for a true RCM program. Thus, the installation of new measurement points will be required. Wired instruments may be too costly. Wireless measurements are as simple as adding a gateway and installing the instruments.
Wireless technology can provide measurement points which were not economically feasible as a wired solution. Chemical day tanks, cooling tower level and fan vibration, industrial gas flow and sump levels can now all be measured. Temperature on rotating equipment can also be measured. The portfolio is broad enough that few process measurements cannot be made. This information is rather beneficial in developing the RCM program.
Although a significant amount of diagnostic data is available on a HART instrument, it is rarely utilized. I refer to this as stranded HART data. The use of analog input cards prevent it from being collected. By adding a WirelessHART module, like a THUM, all of this information can be collected for your use. Diagnostic information is of paramount importance.
A rather simple setup is to install a gateway and add all of the instruments necessary. The gateway has a single connection to your host system. It is highly recommended your installation include Asset Management Software to monitor performance. Not only will you collect the data required, you will also be able to obtain process alerts. It is entirely possible to perform an audit for a particular process unit and then relocate the equipment. However, I think you will find the information extremely valuable, especially compared to the low installation investment.
With wireless technology you are now able to measure your process data and obtain diagnostic information about your process. With an AMS you can trend this data which will prove useful as you develop your RCM program. It fits into the low investment with high impact desires most companies want. Perhaps my tag line should be Reliable. Available. Profitable. Wireless. Reliability is No Failure.
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