Pervasive Sensing highlighted at Emerson Exchange 2013

  • November 25, 2013
  • Emerson Automation Solutions
  • Feature

By Bill Lydon, Editor

Emerson’s Steve Sonnenberg, Executive Vice President, and Peter Zornio, Chief Strategic Officer, in the opening keynotes of the 2013 Emerson Exchange, discussed pervasive sensing as a growing trend. They framed the discussion around the idea of pervasive sensing as the way to achieve the pursuit of actionable information to improve operations and maintenance.

Peter Zornio used the example of tire monitoring on a car to illustrate the use of technology to change the verification of tire air pressure integrity that in past was accomplished by routine manual inspections. Today, wireless sensors in each tire constantly monitor pressure and provide automated warnings, and in some cases provide specific maintenance instructions to the driver on the car dashboard.

In the process industries, routine manual inspections started as the backbone of operations. Over time, technology has continually improved operations starting with automated process loops and progressing to DCS systems that incorporate diagnostics and asset management functions. Emerson’s concept of pervasive sensing describes the increasing use of sensing coupled with systems to reduce human effort and provides predictive and real-time information to improve operations.

What has Prevented Pervasive Sensing Historically?

Zornio discussed how the ratio of acquiring information to the benefit is an equation that is changing with wireless communications and lower cost sensors. The application of new sensor and communications technology is reducing the cost of monitoring, which improves return on investment and enables the installation of more sensors. It was stated during the event that generally 90% of sensor installation cost is wiring.  Wireless technologies are driving down communications cost and providing the ability to extend monitoring to achieve complete visibility of operations. Emerson suggests that the use of WirelessHART and standard Ethernet to convey sensor data to the enterprise are key enablers for pervasive sensing. Software has also improved to use information provided by more sensors for diagnostics and analytics.

New Emerson Products

Emerson showcased two new products related to pervasive sensing.

The Smart Wireless Gateway 1410 interfaces up to 25 WirelessHART devices to industrial networks including Modbus RTU via RS-485 , Modbus TCP/IP, EtherNet/IP, and Modbus TCP/IP.

WirelessHART Smart Wireless Gateway 1410

The Aironet 1552WU Gateway Access Point (AP), jointly developed by Emerson and Cisco, interfaces Wi-Fi and WirelessHART. The integrated 802.11N dual-radio AP supports 2.4 MHz and 5 GHz signals through separate antennas. The Gateway AP is powered by 24 VDC and is designed for hazardous environments. The Aironet 1552WU Outdoor Access Point is Class 1, Div 2/Zone 2 hazardous location certified. The Gateway will be upgradeable as new software releases become available.   The Aironet 1552WU Gateway Access Point supports 100 WirelessHART devices. Official release is expected in Q4 of 2013.

Aironet 1552WU Gateway Access Point (AP) jointly developed by Emerson and Cisco

Big Data

Zornio noted, “We absolutely see pervasive sensing being the foundation of information driven enterprises…it will put the data in big data.” He envisions today’s $16B process and safely sensing market more than doubling in ten years. Success will also require creating the infrastructure for easily moving sensor data to the right people to accomplish integrated operations.

Thoughts & Observations

In my personal discussions about pervasive sensing with Emerson management during the conference, they indicated that they envision lower costs for devices as the market volume grows over time.

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