November 8, 2016

In Water Plants – Invest in New Technologies to Save


Hi. I’m Marc Mason, business development manager, and I’m happy to be your analytic expert today. You know the old saying, “You have to spend money to make money”? Well, in the water industry we’re finding that many water plants have to spend money to save money. Recently, Tom Johnson, water industry business development manager at Emerson, wrote an article for Water & Wastes Digest that talks about advanced technologies like radar leveling, Waste Water Art-2reagent-free liquid analysis, ultrasonic control, wireless measurement devices, advanced predictive diagnostics, and SCADA control systems, and how case histories are showing the cost savings that water treatment plants can garner from investing in emerging advanced analytical, diagnostics and measurement technologies, as well as the control systems that manage those technologies. The case history described in the article demonstrates this premise pretty clearly –

Taylorsville-Bennion Improvement District serves 70,000 people in approximately 14 square miles in the center of the Salt Lake Valley, Utah. The district has approximately 16,700 connections and 229 miles of water lines. For many years, it tried to keep its old chlorine and fluoride sensors and analyzers running by constantly rebuilding, recalibrating and replacing parts. While this seemed like the cost-effective thing to do, it was proving too much for the district’s small staff – a situation familiar to many managers. The units were laborious to rebuild and required replacement of two to three probes per year; plus, they used expensive membranes that were difficult to replace and often broke during installation. The district estimates that the cost to operate the old sensors and analyzers was approximately $9,000 per year at its three locations. The units required daily attention and annual rebuilds, adding labor costs to the equation.

When the district decided to replace the old sensors and analyzers with the latest technology, its situation changed drastically. The new systems were built to last three years, versus one year, and were known to be effective as long as 15 years. The new technologies were reagent-free, reducing costs and maintenance, and needed far less frequent calibration. Bottom line: the district now replaces the membranes and electrolyte of the chlorine systems for $150 per year, compared to more than $6,000 in maintenance costs for the old systems. While the new equipment was costlier to purchase, the dramatically lower cost of ownership is rapidly offsetting that differential – a situation that can apply to many technologies.

There are many other examples of cost savings quoted in the article. Click HERE to read it.

How about you? Have you invested in what seemed a costly technology, only to discover it saved money? We’d love to hear your story.

August 5, 2014

Chemical Plant in Thailand Improves Regulatory Compliance with Wireless On-line pH Analysis

By Piyawan Canyouk


A chemical processing plant in Thailand faced challenges in meeting stringent environmental regulations due to infrastructure limitations in its pH monitoring system.

Thailand Blog picThe chemical processing plant was using grab samples for pH measurement because the distance between pH monitoring points made it difficult to install online analyzers since it would require laying cables across a broad distance, and in some cases, even digging underground or placing it in cable conduits in high locations. However, the use of grab samples for pH analysis did not provide real-time measurement, so the plant risked being out of compliance with government regulations.

The plant would send pre-treated wastewater to the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) in a batch volume to confirm the pH values met governmental regulations for compliance. However, there is a possibility for the sample collected to be nonhomogenous, as sometimes the incoming wastewater that enters the basin is not really mixed well with the existing water in the basin.  This nonhomogenous sample will taint the analysis and render it inaccurate.

Also, while the sample is being analyzed in the lab, the wastewater in the plant is continuing to enter the basin. This wastewater flowing into the basin could change the pH of the wastewater. The plant operator, not realizing this change of pH, could then discharge the wastewater based on the initial grab sample result.

As a consequence, the manufacturer was in danger of facing government penalties and fines for having pH values outside of the acceptable range for compliance. In fact, the government fine could be as much as five times the standard treatment cost charged by the IEAT. The plant needed to implement on-line, continuous pH measurement to improve monitoring, prevent discharging IMG_0742 (2)water downstream that did not meet regulatory requirements, and ensure government compliance to avoid expensive fines, but running cables to install on-line analyzers was cost-prohibitive and complex. To overcome these issues, the plant needed to install a wireless on-line pH analysis solution.

The chemical manufacturer approached Emerson Process Management, Rosemount Analytical to install wireless on-line pH monitoring for the water outlet to the IEAT to replace batch sampling with continuous measurement. The plant selected the 6081pH transmitter, pH sensor panels, and Smart wireless THUM™ adapters as a complete solution for wireless, on-line pH measurement in the water outlet. The wireless IMG_0738implementation did not require any new cabling or power system set-up, avoiding extensive construction, digging underground, and complex placement in high locations. The new system helps ensure regulatory compliance, reduces lab analysis requirements, and provides real-time, continuous monitoring for better pH control and reporting. If the pH in the water outlet registers too high, the plant can immediately stop the process and make adjustments to address any issues in real-time, helping ensure compliance, avoid government penalties, and protect the environment. In fact, the wireless solution was so cost-effective that the chemical processing plant saved more than 50 percent by implementing wireless over what the cost would have been if the plant had installed cable wiring.

How has improving monitoring helped ensure compliance with environmental requirements and regulations for your plant? Would installing a wireless solution help you overcome any plant challenges you’re currently facing?

July 11, 2012

Emerson’s Rosemount Analytical Smart Wireless Technology Helps Prevent Unplanned Shutdowns at SSE Power Plant

SSE has extended the use of Emerson Process Management’s Smart Wireless technology at its Slough Heat and Power energy facility in the U.K. The new Rosemount Analytical wireless conductivity transmitters are being used to detect changes in boiler condensate conductivity which could be caused by cooling-water leaks in the turbine’s condenser. If left undetected the contaminated feedwater will cause hydrogen embrittlement of the furnace tubes that will result in tube failures.

The 80MW combined heat and power (CHP) plant had previously relied on manual sampling and laboratory analysis of turbine condensate.  However, this method caused delays in detecting leaks and as a result the boilers had to be shut down while repairs were made.

“Emerson’s Smart Wireless conductivity transmitters allow us to continuously monitor the condensate extract lines,” said Emma Wilcockson, electrical, control and instrumentation technician at SSE. “If we detect a change in conductivity, maintenance can be scheduled before the problem leads to an unplanned shutdown or damage to the plant.”

Emerson had previously supplied a Smart Wireless Starter Kit for the boiler house, and SSE’s excellent experience with this application was a major factor in selecting wireless for this latest project. In addition, the costs and time required to run power and signal cables to each instrument made a conventional solution impractical.

Emerson recommended the best positioning for the conductivity probes, transmitters and gateway, and SSE installed the Rosemount Analytical Model 6081C Conductivity Transmitters in the condensate extraction lines.

The conductivity transmitters send data to the PLC-based control system via a Smart Wireless Gateway. Emerson’s AMS Device Manager predictive maintenance software is used to manage the Smart Wireless network. With an established wireless network at the plant, “plug-and-play” technology meant that it was very easy and quick for SSE engineers to install and configure the new wireless conductivity devices in the turbine basements.

Despite the difficult environment of the turbine basement, which is surrounded by metal structures that can obstruct wireless signals, the wireless network was quickly established. The system has been operating for more than six months and during that time the transmissions between transmitters and the wireless gateway has been extremely reliable.

What approaches do you use in your plant to prevent unplanned shutdowns?

June 5, 2012

When Plants Require Retrofit Equipment, Wireless Saves the Day

Francis Ang here for Emerson Rosemount. I’m contributing this week’s blog discussing a local gas manufacturing plant here in Singapore.

For most manufacturing plants, the addition of a new measurement requirement after the plant is constructed is a source of huge expense and inconvenience … unless they have wireless. Such was the case with the world scale hydrogen manufacturing plant of Singapore Oxygen Air Liquide Pte Ltd, the subsidiary of Air Liquide in Singapore on Jurong Island. In 80 countries, Air Liquide supplies gases and solutions for its customers in diverse industries such as steel, food and beverage, electronics and pharmaceuticals.

New requirements for degassed conductivity measurements emerged and the plant wanted to add these instruments to their existing facility.

That is when Emerson Process Management came into the picture. Emerson engineers proposed the use of three 6081C wireless liquid analyzers with a contacting conductivity sensor, the Model 400. These were used in combination with a Smart Wireless Gateway. The wireless technology not only satisfies the need for conductivity measurement in the process, it also provides access to diagnostics which significantly reduce the cost and time of maintenance. This idea was well received by SOXAL as a try-out of the wireless diagnostics for the degassed conductivity measurement.

The analyzer was installed in a portable panel design that allows it to be easily moved around the plant as needed. The entire wireless system was installed in two days – a savings of weeks over the wired installation. From a cost benefit perspective; there is about 15 percent savings over the wired installation. Cost of ownership will significantly lower due to the reduced cost of AC power and maintenance and operation. In addition, system upgrades in the future will be fast and low cost.

Another advantage is that the Smart Wireless Gateway allows the liquid analyzers and any other additional products, such as pressure, pH or temperature measurement to be added in the future as part of a self-organizing network wherein each system becomes a wireless transmitter for all other systems.

For Singapore Oxygen Air Liquide Pte Ltd, as for other plants requiring retrofit around the world, wireless technology significantly reduces costs while improving operations.

November 29, 2011

Wireless Technology Designed for Demanding Applications Controls pH Levels in Rotating Drums

Hello everyone. I’m Stéphane Canadas, Analytical Specialist at Emerson Process Management. A customer of ours in Europe has an application that demonstrates the importance of having a wireless technology that can meet the need of demanding field networks. The company performs sugar processing. While your application may be different, if you have a demanding application, there are lessons to be learned from this example.

As part of this company’s production process, clean, sliced beet is pumped into one of three rotating drum diffusers and then mixed with water at approximately 85o C to extract the sugar. pH levels of the solution must be monitored within the drums to optimize the soaking period and ensure it has the correct pH level before it passes through the next stages of purification. In the past, the company performed the pH measurements manually with solution samples taken every hour and analyzed in a laboratory. As you can imagine, this was very time consuming and did not provide immediate or continuous information as needed. Collection of the sample was difficult, requiring an operator to open a valve on the rotating drum, fill a bottle from the port and close it, all in a few seconds while the drum was on the lowest part of its rotation. At times, the port would be blocked by beet fibers preventing a sample from being taken for several hours forcing the process to run blind. Has your plant ever experienced anything similar? If so you know how unsatisfactory such a procedure can be.

The customer wanted to install a continuous automated monitoring system. They first tried a wired installation using a slip ring but the connection points for both power and data proved to be very unreliable causing data signals to be lost. They next set upon a wireless solution to solve the problem but wanted any wireless system they purchased to perform a number of tasks across the plant. It was important, therefore, that they selected an open standard technology that would not lock them into a single vendor.

After reviewing a range of systems, the customer settled on the Rosemount Analytical Model 6081-P wireless pH transmitter. The transmitter, along with a 3500 SMART pH sensor, was installed on the rotating drum. Because of the inherent ease-of-installation of the Emerson field network system, the wireless devices began transmitting data the minute they were attached to the drum. Since the sensor is preconfigured in the lab by Emerson, it received its specific setup through the wireless network and began immediate operation. Measurement data from the device is transmitted every sixty seconds from the sensor to a Smart Wireless Gateway and then transmitted to the customer’s DCS providing the much-needed continuous measurement.

Initially, the wireless system just provided continuous pH measurements to be viewed by the operator who then made manual adjustments to control the pH levels. However, since the initial four-week trial period proved so seamlessly integrated and reliable, they are now using the wirelessly transmitted data to control the pH level in the diffusion drums automatically.

The bottom line is that with the selection of a field network wireless system with the configuration, security, reliability and simplicity required by demanding applications, this company was able to significantly improve productivity and process quality while reducing energy use, water and rework. These results were achieved in a highly demanding rotating drum application. The decision to move from monitoring to control is strong testimony in the company’s confidence in the Model 6081-P and Emerson Smart wireless field network solution. We might call that a sugar of a deal.

 In what demanding applications have you used or considered using wireless technology?