Wireless systems and Liquiphant

Reading many of the websites and editorials commenting on process industry “Hot topics”, they seem to have manufactured a big confrontation between the proponents for the WirelessHART and ISA100 wireless sensor standards. You have to wonder whether this is just to fill column inches, elevate the status of the relevant experts and their companies, or just keep the subject in the magazine discussion columns? Remember the fieldbus wars, which fizzled out in an effervescence of international agreement – mainly between Siemens and Emerson – and with the addition of third party interfaces. Really the wireless spat is all pretty inevitable, when there are such large commercial interests at stake.

Both the WirelessHART system, mainly championed by Emerson, and the ISA100.11a standard championed by Honeywell and Yokogawa, have shown themselves able to offer the open, interoperable multi-vendor capability requested. The two standards are too far apart to be combined, so that one sensor cannot be configured to operate automatically on either system. However, with what seems to be a lot of the actual wireless technology bought in, the interoperability might come from the wireless suppliers themselves. Well done Apprion – their Ion system integrates both these wireless systems in one receiver, and allows transmission of real-time sensor data from devices instrumented with ISA100 or WirelessHART sensors to the Ion Condition Monitoring application. Plus the Apprion Ion Condition Monitoring application can be combined with other Ion applications such as Ion Video and/or Ion Asset Tracking to create operational dashboards customised to each individual’s role in the plant. Perhaps now we can get on and begin to use the technology, ignoring the confusion spread by the high tech doom-mongers? (Link)
Follow that! It’s easy – but actually it’s not that easy for a company to get new column inches about a product that just keeps on doing what it should, for 25 years, even if it is the best solid state liquid level switch in the world. The Endress + Hauser Liquiphant was introduced in 1983, when it was revolutionary! It did take time, and a fair few blown up units, for users to understand the wiring, but by 2000 E+H had sold a million units. It was probably then that the patents ran out, so now there are copy-cats around, trying to catch up. But Endress developed the technology and production, with a self checking high level, or tank overfill alarm, with hygienic versions, even with a corrosion monitoring system to warn of a future wet-side problem. Modern electronics can now use the Liquiphant vibrating forks as a liquid density measurement sensor. (Link)
This week IMA introduce the SpectraSensors TDL analyser system for monitoring moisture and H2S in samples extracted from process streams, quoted as a technique developed by NASA for a Mars probe. I had thought TDL was pioneered by Dow, as an in-line technique for process applications, monitoring water vapour in chlorine production, then commercialised by Yokogawa (http://www.processingtalk.com/news/whp/whp194.html). But now I discover that the Mars probe actually set off in 2004 (http://www.engineeringtalk.com/news/ixw/ixw100.html). Further down in the newsletter we also discover that two Goodrich Sensors Unlimited Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) cameras have recently helped NASA scientists to determine the presence of water on the moon: so they did see something from the impact of the rocket. The conclusion seems to be that optical measurement sensors are now being applied everywhere: on Mars, near the Moon, and in a process plant near you!