Emerson Announces Wireless Direction

ARC Advisory Group's ARCwire Newsletter (February 25 issue) reports that at last week's ARC Forum in Orlando, Emerson Process Management President, John Berra, made a major announcement about Emerson's future direction concerning wireless sensor technology.

Emerson will release field instrumentation based on wireless mesh networks for use in process plants. The products are designed for remote areas with distributed assets, near-plant applications such as tank farms, and in-plant applications to address key requirements for process plants such as security, power management, and conformance to standards with

"Berra stated that the new mesh wireless offerings would address key issues such as encryption, authentication, verification, anti-jamming, and key management on the security side, which are primary concerns for process industry users and major hurdles to adoption today," says ARCwire. "To address the issue of power, the new sensors will treat power "like gold", operating on ultra-low-power embedded radio technology and incorporating unique power management, advanced battery technologies, and power harvesting techniques such as solar cells, although the specific embedded technologies were not disclosed." The devices will incorporate standards as they emerge, such as the HART wireless standard and SP 100.

By mid-year, Emerson will reportedly offer a small module that will enable existing HART devices installed in the field to incorporate wireless functionality. "This will allow users to take advantage of the full diagnostics functionality of HART devices, without the need for installing multiplexers or other hardware and wiring infrastructure that would other wise be necessary to integrate the HART devices with the control system," says ARCwire.

Berra said that major oil and gas companies are using the technology, and that it is "99.9% reliable in the 'canyons of metal' that characterize process plants."

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