Wireless instrumentation monitors water usage at pharmaceutical plant

GlaxoSmithKline uses Rosemount wireless pressure and flow transmitters; provides network for future expansion.


Emerson Process Management’s Smart Wireless technology is enabling GlaxoSmithKline to monitor water usage at its Cork plant in Ireland. Installation of Rosemount wireless flow and pressure transmitters on two new storage tanks has provided an opportunity to understand water usage throughout the plant in greater detail, to test wireless instrumentation technology, and to create wireless network infrastructure for new process instrumentation in the future.

“GlaxoSmithKline is continuously looking to improve plant performance by increasing the number of parameters measured,” explained Emmett Martin, site services and automation manager, GlaxoSmithKline. “Water is a considerable overhead to the plant so it is important that we monitor flow rates to manage consumption, and to help identify any usage trends.”

The Cork site is a strategic manufacturing plant that produces a range of bulk active ingredients for use in the formulation of prescription drugs. The existing water storage facility was too small and had no measurement instrumentation in place. Two new storage tanks were installed along with new piping infrastructure. The tanks are located around 300 m from the main control room and there was no existing cabling in place. A wired installation would have required new power and data cables to be buried in trenches. By adopting a wireless solution these significant costs were avoided.

Ten Smart Wireless devices were installed, including six Rosemount pressure transmitters, two Rosemount flow transmitters, and two Rosemount level transmitters. The wireless technology integrates seamlessly with the existing automation equipment. Flow data is transmitted every 30 seconds and pressure and level data every 300 seconds to a Smart Wireless Gateway strategically positioned on the control room roof. This is connected using a serial connection to the existing DeltaV digital automation system that controls the plant utilities. From here the flow and pressure measurements are sent to a data historian and are available to plant operators for regular monitoring and reporting.

The new data obtained has enabled GlaxoSmithKline to identify water usage clearly for different areas of the plant, providing a better understanding of the costs and a mechanism to identify changes.

The new wireless infrastructure makes it very easy and cost effective to add additional measurement devices without the need for new cabling. GlaxoSmithKline is already looking at installing a wireless level device that will be added to the existing network.

“We regard the installation of wireless very much as a two stage process,” explained Martin. “The first step is to establish a wireless network and let it prove itself over a period of time. The next step is to expand the network and use wireless whenever it is more cost effective than a wired alternative. We are more than satisfied with the solution, which is proving to be reliable with no signal loss. Based on a successful implementation, at some point in the future we are perhaps, looking towards a plant with no wires.”



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Edited by Peter Welander, pwlenader(at)cfemedia.com

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