Wireless IO advantages: More data, less work

New I/O products provide more measurement and control for processes, optimization, and asset condition monitoring with less effort, wirelessly.


FreeWave Technologies FGR2-IO-IOE and IO Expansion are shown in an enclosure serving six wells. Courtesy: FreeWave TechnologiesMore measurements and better control for processes, optimization, and asset condition monitoring are achieved with less effort with help from new I/O products.

In process dependent industries, such as oil and gas, manufacturing, chemical, food and beverage, and water and wastewater, it is increasingly rare to see processes that rely on human decisions and manual interaction. This is because relying on human judgment and reactions introduces variability in reliability, timeliness, and quality. From a customer’s perspective, variability in these areas reduces the perceived quality of a service or product. From the organization’s perspective, variability creates significant challenges in growing revenue, capping expenses, and maintaining consistent quality of service.

Here’s how wireless IO might be expanded in a SCADA application. Courtesy: FreeWave Technologies

The earliest I/O installations succeeded in taking measurements and controlling process elements to automate key process decisions, with some pains. In water and wastewater, I/O connections were used to report information on tank levels to ensure full tanks and adequate pressure or supply for transmission and distribution. In oil and gas, I/O modules were introduced to monitor plunger arrival to increase gas production of old wells. Despite the benefits, there were numerous challenges. The earliest projects required technicians and engineers to learn new technologies and use out-of-the-box problem-solving skills.

Some IO modules can be expanded as needed; 15 are shown here. Courtesy: FreeWave TechnologiesBiggest differentiator: Wireless

The newest I/O products offer major functional improvements. Arguably, the biggest differentiator is wireless I/O. Wireless I/O removes the enormous challenge of running cable from the point of measurement or control to the process controller. Wireless I/O delivers the most cost-effective method to monitor and optimize a process that spans between 100 ft and 100 miles. Cost savings are realized immediately by eliminating cables and conduits, trenching and construction crews, and permits. Cost savings also are realized over time with quick troubleshooting, over-the-air configuration changes and upgrades, and by eliminating cable management activities. Wireless I/O also can integrate directly into a larger wireless SCADA network to connect the corporate office with the field controllers, process measurements, and control points. Furthermore, process security is enhanced with proprietary frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) wireless technologies.

Expandability is another differentiator in new I/O products. Some wired and wireless I/O providers offer expansion modules with an extremely high-density I/O, allowing users to install a small set of I/O in a critical location of the process up front, knowing that more can be added at any point in the future. Expansion modules are connected directly without additional mounting hardware, allowing up to 200 I/O points at one location easily. Adopting an expandable platform is often justified by additional monitoring mandated by the government, new process technologies that require more points for monitoring and control for higher process output, and peace of mind knowing that more points are easy to add.

The newest I/O products provide more data with less work. In addition to wireless and expandability, features such as universal channel configurability, measurement accuracy, device reliability, backwards compatibility, and ease of use also enhance the usability of new I/O devices. The latest I/O devices should deliver one simple product to install and use for all your process optimization and condition monitoring applications.

- Andrejs Rozitis is product manager, FreeWave Technologies Inc. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering, www.controleng.com


Related reading

IO expansion for wireless data radios - Freewave's IO Expansion modules have access times up to 192 IO points and have non-isolated inputs to reduce the number of external components.

Also see a collection of Control Engineering articles on wireless.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
2015 Mid-Year Report: Manufacturing's newest tool: In a digital age, digits will play a key role in the plant of the future; Ethernet certification; Mitigate harmonics; World class maintenance
2015 Lubrication Guide: Green and gold in lubrication: Environmentally friendly fluids and sealing systems offer a new perspective
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Cyber security attack: The threat is real; Hacking O&G control systems: Understanding the cyber risk; The active cyber defense cycle
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths
New industrial buildings: Greener, cleaner, leaner; New building designs for industry; Take a new look at absorption cooling; Offshored jobs start to come back

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.