Efficient Plant April 2019 - 17

feature | information technology

Wireless
technology used
to move assetperformance
data can
determine what
you analyze,
reliability of
results, and
sensor life.

MUCH HAS BEEN written about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT),
asset-health monitoring, and predictive analytics, as well as the benefits these
technologies offer. Discussions of those benefits, however, typically overshadow
conversations about another important topic: how to reliably and securely transmit
equipment-performance data to a central hub, portal, or cloud network for analysis
by algorithms.
While it's easy to get lost in the technical aspects of wireless data transfer, changes
in the behind-the-scenes technologies that do this heavy lifting make the topic worthy of serious consideration. After all, the methods and technologies that organizations employ to transmit data will have a significant impact on how much information they can analyze, the reliability of their results, and how long their wireless
sensors will last.

COLLECT, TRANSFER, ANALYZE
Although industrial operations may use different technologies to capture, transmit, and analyze equipment-performance data, their IIoT processes are usually
similar.
 Step 1: Interconnected wireless or wired sensors installed on pumps,
seals, valves, and other equipment collect performance information. Data
could include vibration, temperature, pressure, flow rates, torque, thrust,
and other conditions. The breadth of data captured, though, depends on
the types of sensors installed, battery life, and data-transfer limitations.
 Step 2: Sensing instrumentation on an asset transmits data to a portal
or on-site network for later retrieval. A variety of factors influence how
the data gets from the equipment to the portal, specifically how much data
is transmitted and how far the signal must travel.
 Step 3: Once a central hub receives the data, advanced algorithms analyze
it for patterns, trends, and signs of failure, and direct reliability engineers on how
to address problems before they affect asset performance.
The following discussion focuses on the second step: how to reliably transmit data
from the equipment to the central hub for analysis. For industrial operations, there
are three standard methods of wirelessly transferring data. Each has advantages and
limitations.

TRADITIONAL WIRELESS
Most people are familiar with Wi-Fi, which allows them to wirelessly connect
personal mobile devices to any number of peripherals. Maintenance crews can
use this same technology to monitor critical assets in industrial operations.
Because of wi-fi's limited range, though, these crews can only wirelessly download
equipment-performance data when they're in close proximity to the equipment.
After downloading, the data can be sent to vibration analysts, either on site or at
a third-party service company, to review for anomalies. While wi-fi transmission
greatly simplifies data downloading, the technology's limited range still requires
maintenance crews to physically walk around the plant to retrieve this information.
continued on p. 18

APRIL 2019

EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM |

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Efficient Plant April 2019

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