Industrial Wireless as Mainstream Connection Method For Process Measurement

industrial process control wireless transmitter and receiver
Establishing wireless connections for process control operations
is simple, effective, and inexpensive
Wireless connections to process instrumentation has evolved to a point where it is uncomplicated and inexpensive. Many facilities rely on wireless connections, either via a network (wifi) or point to point communications. The benefits of wireless are well known to those already among users of the technology.
  • Safety: Wireless connections can reduce personnel exposure to hazardous environments or situations that previously required human intervention or a manual gauge or instrument reading.
  • Easy Scale-up: Adding points on a network is generally a simple incremental process.
  • Operational Advantage: When deployed to replace manual instrument or gauge readings, real time data for diagnostics and efficiency measurements are now available. Information that is more accurate, timely, and consistent will produce better results.
  • Installation Savings: Installation of wireless connected assets has been reported to be up to 10 times less expensive than wired installation. The reduced space and planning for cables and conduit can make what were once complex and time consuming operations much quicker and easier.
  • Mobility: Wireless technology allows for real time connections to mobile platforms. Whether within a plant, on the road, or on the high seas, there are wireless products that can make the connection.
  • Distance: Don't just think WiFi, think radio, think satellite, think cellular. Connections can be established across very long distances using standard products from the industry.
  • Conversion of Legacy Devices: Many existing in-place devices can have their wired connections replaced with a wireless version. This accommodates a staged transition from wired to wireless in facility.
The transmission is accomplished in either the 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz band, delivering adequate range and power for most facility-wide applications. Obstructions can be overcome with the use of a strategically located repeater. Properly planned and configured, there are few limits to the distance a wireless connection can span.

Point to point wireless connections between, for example, a temperature transmitter and a recorder are easy to create. Most process sensors have very small power requirements, as do the Analynk transmission units. Power, if line voltage is not available at the location, can be provided by batteries, or combination of battery and photovoltaic. The 4-20 mA signal from the temperature transmitter serves as the input signal to the wireless transmitter. The analog signal is converted to a digital value and encrypted prior to transmission. A receiver at the recorder decrypts the digital signal and converts it back to a 4-20 mA analog output that serves as the input signal to the recorder. Wireless transmitter and receiver must be set to the same channel, but otherwise, the equipment handles all the work. If you can find your way around a smart phone, you can make a wireless point to point process connection.

There are likely many applications going unfulfilled because the cost or feasibility of making a wired connection is holding the project back. Reconsider the project using industrial wireless technology and you may find that the project becomes an attractive prospect.

Analynk Wireless designs and manufactures wireless communication equipment and systems for use in commercial and industrial settings. Share your connectivity challenges with the experts at Analynk, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their wireless communications expertise to develop an effective solution.

Water Quality Analysis – Constituent Survey Part 3

electric power plant
Water quality is of great concern to electric power generating
operations, as well as other industrial operations
What we know as “water” can consist of many non-H2O components in addition to pure water. This three part series has touched on some of the constituents of water that are of interest to various industrial processors. The first installment reviewed dissolved oxygen and chloride. The second article covered sulfates, sodium, and ammonia. 

To conclude the three part series on water quality analysis in process control related industrial applications we examine silica, another element which in sufficient quantities can become a confounding variable in water for industrial use. In natural settings, silica, or silicon dioxide, is a plentiful compound. Its presence in water provides a basis for some corrosion-inhibiting products, as well as conditioners and detergents. Problems arise, however, when high concentrates of silica complicate industrial processes which are not designed to accommodate elevated levels. Specifically, silica is capable of disrupting processes related to boilers and turbines. In environments involving high temperature, elevated pressure, or both, silica can form crystalline deposits on machinery surfaces. This inhibits the operation of turbines and also interferes with heat transfer. These deposits can result in many complications, ranging through process disruption, decreased efficiency, and resources being expended for repairs.

The silica content in water used in potentially affected processes needs to be sufficiently low in order to maintain rated function and performance. Silica analyzers provide continuous measurement and monitoring of silica levels. The analyzers detect and allow mitigation of silica in the initial stages of raw material acquisition or introduction to prevent undue disruption of the process. Additionally, a technique called power steam quality monitoring allows for the aforementioned turbine-specific inhibition – related to silica conglomerates reducing efficacy and physical movement – to be curtailed without much issue. The feedwater filtration couples with a low maintenance requirement, resulting in reduced downtime of analytic sequences and a bit of increased peace of mind for the technical operator.

While silica and the other compounds mentioned in this series are naturally occurring, the support systems in place to expertly control the quality of water is the most basic requirement for harvesting one of the earth’s most precious resources for use. As a matter of fact, the identification and control of compounds in water – both entering the industrial process and exiting the industrial process – demonstrates key tenets of process control fundamentals: precision, accuracy, durability, and technological excellence paired with ingenuity to create the best outcome not just one time, but each time.

Analynk Wireless manufactures wireless connectivity solutions for industrial applications and process control. Making cable free connections among process control equipment and instruments, across the room, across the property, across the globe.

Water Quality Analysis – Constituent Survey (Part 2)

industrial process water
Water is a big part of countless industrial operations, either as
an input, part of processing, or a waste product.
It would be difficult to understate the role and importance of water in industrial processing, even our own biological existence. In the first installment of this series, the roles of dissolved oxygen and chlorides were covered.

Continuing the examination of water quality monitoring in municipal and industrial processes, another key variable which requires monitoring for industrial water use is sulfate. Sulfate is a combination of sulfur and oxygen, salts of sulfuric acid. Similarly to chlorides, they can impact water utilization processes due to their capability for corrosion. The power generation industry is particularly attuned to the role of sulfates in their steam cycle, as should be any boiler operator. Minerals can concentrate in steam drums and accelerate corrosion. Thanks to advancements in monitoring technology, instruments are available which monitor for both chlorides (covered in the previous installment in this series) and sulfates with minimal supervision needed by the operator, ensuring accurate detection of constituent levels outside of an acceptable range. Ionic separation technologies precisely appraise the amount of sulfate ions in the stream, allowing for continuous evaluation and for corrective action to be taken early-on, avoiding expensive repairs and downtime. 

Another substance worthy of measurement and monitoring in process water is sodium. Pure water production equipment, specifically cation exchange units, can be performance monitored with an online sodium analyzer. Output from the cation bed containing sodium, an indication of deteriorating performance, can be diverted and the bed regenerated. Steam production and power generation operations also benefit from sodium monitoring in an effort to combat corrosion in turbines, steam tubes, and other components. Sodium analyzers are very sensitive, able to detect trace levels. 

Ammonia is comprised of nitrogen and hydrogen and, while colorless, carries a distinct odor. Industries such as agriculture utilize ammonia for fertilizing purposes, and many other specializations, including food processing, chemical synthesis, and metal finishing, utilize ammonia for their procedural and product-oriented needs. An essential understanding of ammonia, however, includes the fact that the chemical is deadly to many forms of aquatic life. Removing ammonia from industrial wastewater is a processing burden of many industries due to the environmental toxicity. 

Methods for removing ammonia from wastewater include a biological treatment method called ‘conventional activated sludge’, aeration, sequencing batch reactor, and ion exchange. Several methods exist for in-line or sample based measurement of ammonia concentration in water. Each has particular procedures, dependencies, and limitations which must be considered for each application in order to put the most useful measurement method into operation. 

As water is an essential part of almost every facet of human endeavor and the environment in which we all dwell, the study and application of related analytics is an important component of many water based processes. The variety of compounds which can be considered contaminants or harmful elements when dissolved or contained in water presents multiple challenges for engineers and process operators.

Analynk Wireless manufactures wireless connectivity solutions for industrial applications and process control. Making cable free connections among process control equipment and instruments, across the room, across the property, across the globe.

Water Quality - Constituents That Impact Industrial Operations (Part 1)

aerial view of sewage treatment plant
Sewage treatment plants are only one of many applications
where water quality is a concern.
Of all the raw materials available for human consumption – aside from the air we breathe – the most vital component of life on earth is water. In addition to the global need for humans to drink water in order to survive, the use of water is essential in a myriad of industries relating to process control. Whether the goal is the production or monitoring of pure water for industrial use, or the processing of wastewater, the ability to measure the presence and level of certain chemical constituents of water is necessary for success.

In order to use water properly, industrial professionals combine state of the art analyzers with technical expertise to evaluate water quality for use or disposal. Two essential values of process control are ensuring elements of a control system are accurate and secure, and, furthermore, that they are accurate and secure for each product every time. By properly vetting water in industry, engineers and other personnel in fields such as pharmaceuticals, chemical, food & beverage, brewing, power, and microelectronics are able to maintain standards of production excellence and conform with regulatory requirements related to water quality.

The amount of dissolved oxygen present in water can correlate with the degree of movement at an air-water interface, also being impacted by pressure, temperature, and salinity. Excessive or deficient dissolved oxygen levels in industrial process waters may have an impact on process performance or end product quality. Likely, the most common application for dissolved oxygen measurement is in the evaluation of wastewater for biological oxygen demand. The primary function of dissolved oxygen in wastewater is to enable and enhance the oxidation of organic material by aerobic bacteria, a necessary step in treatment.

To measure dissolved oxygen, specialized sensors and companion instruments are employed that require careful maintenance and trained technical operators. The level of measurement precision varies depending on the industry employing the technology, with numerous applications also being found in the food & beverage and pharmaceutical industries. In-line continuous measurement is used in wastewater processing to determine if the dissolved oxygen remains in a range that supports the bacteria necessary for biodegradation.

Chloride concentration in wastewater is strictly regulated. Industrial and commercial operation effluent can be regulated with respect to allowable chloride content. While commonly found in both streams and wastewater, chlorides, in large amounts, can present challenges to water utilization or processing facilities. Chloride levels impact corrosion, conductivity, and taste (for industries in which such a variable is paramount). In a process system, having an essential component marred due to elevated quantities of a substance could reverberate into any end-product being manufactured. Chloride analyzers, some of which can also detect and monitor other water characteristics, serve as important tools for water consuming facilities to meet regulatory standards for effluent discharge or internal quality standards for recycling.

There are other constituents of what we refer to as “water” that are subject to measurement and monitoring for a range of institutional, industrial, and municipal applications. Those will be explored in the next part of this article series.

Analynk Wireless manufactures wireless connectivity solutions for industrial applications and process control. Making cable free connections among process control equipment and instruments, across the room, across the property, across the globe.

Continuous Liquid Level Measurement Technologies Used in Industry

crude oil storage tanks
Process measurement connectivity with wireless technology
is suitable for almost any application 
Although continuous level measurement technologies have the ability to quantify applications for bulk solids, slurries, and granular materials, this article will focus on level measurement technologies applied to liquid level measurement utilized in process control. A distinction should be made between continuous level measurement and point level measurement. Point level measurement acts like a switch, changing state when a single level condition is achieved. Called “transmitters,” continuous liquid level measurement devices employ technologies ranging from hydrostatics to magnetostriction, providing uninterrupted signals that indicate the level of liquid in a vessel, tank, or other container.

Hydrostatic devices focus on the equilibrium of dynamic and static liquids. There are three main types of hydrostatic transmitters: 1) displacer, 2) bubbler, and 3) differential pressure.

The displacer transmitters utilize a float placed within the liquid container. With its buoyancy characterized to the liquid and the application, the float, a connecting stem, and a range spring or similar counterbalance represents the liquid level in terms of the movement of the displacer (float). The displacement, or movement, of the assembly is converted into an electric signal for use by the monitoring and control system.

Bubbler transmitters are used for processing vessels that operate at atmospheric pressure. This method introduces a purge gas or an inert gas, e.g. air or dry nitrogen, into a tube extending into the liquid vessel. Precise measurement of the pressure exerted on the gas in the dip tube by the liquid in the tank is used to determine the height of the liquid.

Differential pressure (DP) transmitters rely directly on, in a basic explanation, the pressure difference between the bottom and top of the container. Precise pressure measurement is used to determine the height of the liquid in the tank. One of the most advantageous aspects of DP transmitters is that they can be used in pressurized containers.

Other examples of level transmitter technologies which are not hydrostatic devices include magnetostrictive, capacitance, ultrasonic, laser, and radar.

In magnetostrictive level transmitters the measuring device, a float, has a magnet that creates a magnetic field around a wire enclosed in a tube. Electrical pulses sent down the wire by the transmitter head produce a torsional wave related to the position of the float, which moves with changes in liquid surface level. The transit time of the torsion wave back to the sensing head is measured and the depth of the liquid, as indicated by the float position, can be determined.

Capacitance transmitters are best applied to liquids that have high dielectric constants. Essentially, changes in the capacitance of the sensor / tank / liquid assembly will vary proportionately with the liquid level. The change in capacitance is measured and converted to an appropriate electrical signal.

Ultrasonic level transmitters emit ultrasonic energy from the top of the vessel toward the liquid. The emissions are reflected by the liquid surface and them time required for the signal to return to the source is used to determine the distance to the liquid surface.

Laser level transmitters operate similarly to an ultrasonic level transmitter. However, instead of using ultrasound signals, they use pulses of light.

Radar level transmitters involve microwaves emitting downward from the top of the container to the liquid’s surface. The measured time for receipt of a return sign reflecting off the liquid surface enables calculation of the distance from the sensor to the liquid surface.

The precise measurement of transmit time for a wave or pulse of energy is employed in several of the technologies, the measurement of pressure in others. Each technology has a set of attributes making it an advantageous selection for a particular range of applications.

Analynk Wireless provides connectivity solutions enabling the wireless transmission of measurement data across the room, across the property, across the globe. Share your process measurement and control connectivity challenges with the experts at Analynk for a solution that is simple to implement and cost effective.