Pro's and Con's of Wireless Instrumentation in Process Control

industrial wireless
In the process control industry there are many reasons to adopt wireless instrumentation. Advocates will tell you the biggest advantages of wireless I/O monitoring and control options are reduced installation cost and increased convenience.

The argument in favor of wireless goes something like this:
  • Why install cable when wireless I/O communications can be utilized at a fraction of the cost? 
  • Avoid having to lay conduit, obtain permits, hire labor, and renting out the required machines.
  • Wireless I/O monitoring and control systems are easy to install and configure; your system will be up and running faster. 
But the acceptance by companies has been slow. The fiscal argument for the industry to adopt wireless instrumentation networks is convincing, and there are clear benefits, so why the hesitation to embrace wireless technology?

ioProWDL by
There are three main concerns:
  • Is the technology reliable?
  • Adaptibility with existing infrastructure?
  • How does wireless work with the existing communication system?
Cost cutting and process improvement in the process industries is a fact of life.  Whether to comply with current regulations, or to build a more efficient operation, the need to build a better mousetrap is always present.  Before widespread adoption of wireless could occur, the challenges of reliability, adaptability, and ease of integration had to be overcome. There's evidence that time may have arrived, as innovation and new technologies are allaying these concerns. As deployment costs are reduced, maintenance costs are reduced, employee safety is improved, and environmental compliance is advanced, it won't be long until wireless technologies become the preferred deployment method for all new installations.

Always consult with a local industrial wireless application specialist to optimize the efficiency of this new technology for your application.

Infrared Pyrometry Keeps an "Eye On" the Health of Combustion Chambers in Power Generation Boilers

Williamson Infrared Pyrometer
Williamson Infrared Pyrometer
Fossil fuel power plants generate electricity by spinning a generator turbine with pressurized steam. The steam is created by heat exchanger tubes in a combustion chamber. The combustion flame heats the air, which heats the exchanger tubes, which in turn heats water in the boiler creating steam.

The more quickly steam is created, the faster the turbines turn, which produces more electricity. The efficiency by which steam is produced is proportional to the amount of heat created in the combustion chamber, and the transfer rate of the heat in to the exchanger tubes.

Maintaining the temperatures of the combustion chamber is critical. It needs to be carefully controlled. Exceeding the temperature thresholds of the refractory brick and the heat exchanger tubes has serious implications.  Refractory materials will vitrify (glass over) when overheated and lose their insulating properties. Heat exchanger tubes will fatigue when heated above their design limits, and will soften and crack. Costly downtime and unscheduled maintenance will result.

A result of combustion is the accumulation of soot and fly ash build-up on the heat exchanger tubes. This accumulation significantly decreases the efficiency of heat transfer. As less heat is transferred to the inside the boiler tube, steam production is reduced, and the tube's external temperature rises. A characteristic of fly ash is that, as temperatures increase, it gets stickier. As it sticks, it builds up more quickly. This is obviously a problem. The rate of build-up can be slowed by controlling fly ash temperature, and therefore optimum heat exchanger efficiency can be optimized.

The manufacturer Williamson successfully applies their short-wavelength pyrometers to measure refractory wall and heat exchanger tube temperature to protect and ensure efficient operation. With these pyrometers plant operators can also determine when boiler tubes need to be cleaned. Another Williamson dual-wavelength pyrometer is used to monitor fly ash temperature near the bottom of the heat exchanger tubes, and also to measure flame temperatures within the firebox.

  • Improved process efficiency.
  • Uniform bed temperature.
  • Protects against catastrophic damage.

For more information on non-contact temperature measurement or Williams infrared pyrometers visit or call 800-536-0269.

Hile Controls of Alabama - Controls, Instrumentation, Valves

Hile Controls of Alabama provides controls, instrumentation and valves for manufacturers in oil and gas, chemical production, power generation, plastics, mining, water and waste water, pharmaceuticals and bio-pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, pulp and paper, and government-related industrial manufacturers. They are located in Pelham, Alabama and serve Alabama, Mississippi, Western Tennessee, and the Florida Panhandle.