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Preventive maintenance through wireless protocols and cloud connections

Companies globally are adopting digitalization to improve their operations and empower their workforces. One notable advancement in the process industries is the increase in preventive maintenance through a wealth of data provided by modern smart instruments, enabling the creation of powerful insights. 

To make best use of this data, many plants are implementing measures for communicating instrument diagnostic data reliably to team members. This enables plant personnel to proactively address issues, reduce unscheduled outages and improve operational performance. However, transmitting, storing and securely accessing this data can be a challenge. 

Barriers to analysis

Many plants already use smart instruments, which can measure or generate numerous diagnostic data points, in addition to multiple secondary process values. But it is less common for facilities to possess the infrastructure required to transmit this data to a central host system for processing. For this and other reasons, these advanced data capabilities frequently go untapped. 

For real-time control applications, reliability requirements often necessitate the use of specialized distributed control system (DCS) hardware and upgrading this equipment for digital protocol literacy can be costly. But for monitoring applications—or in situations where timing is not critical—wireless communication methods often provide better options. 

Facilitate data transmission and increase preventive maintenance  

Leveraging wireless technologies—such as WirelessHART and Bluetooth—helps ease connectivity efforts, increases data availability, and provides flexibility for processing the data, providing plant personnel with information they need to quickly make informed operational and maintenance decisions. 

For digital instruments without native wireless capabilities, devices like the Endress+Hauser FieldPort SWA50 , WirelessHART/Bluetooth communication adapter, create opportunities to liberate digital data and create operational value, with minimal installation costs and downtime requirements.  

Preventive maintenance with SWA50

FieldPort SWA50 WirelessHART/Bluetooth communication adapter enables any HART-compatible instrument to communicate wirelessly.

These adapters provide wireless functionality for any instrument that supports HART, without interfering with existing wired analog I/O loops. In addition to avoiding costly conduit runs and wiring efforts, this approach eliminates the need to involve a DCS in data collection when implementing preventive maintenance and operational optimization strategies. This makes it possible to provide operational and process data to the right people throughout the enterprise without providing access to the plant control system. By implementing the wireless HART data into a platform like Netilion, the same data can be provided to people and systems via API integration to improve productivity throughout the enterprise. 

These interfaces also enable technicians to connect directly to devices through a wireless field communication tablet, or even with the SmartBlue App on an everyday smartphone. Once connected, a user can monitor instrument health, and with proper authorization, can change tags or other configuration parameters if desired. 

While Bluetooth simplifies field maintenance, WirelessHART is typically preferred for integrating data from multiple instruments to a central location. 

Aggregate the data 

After ensuring instruments speak the right language, plant staff can install WirelessHART edge gateways throughout the facility to pass their data via a wired connection, typically Ethernet, to higher-level host systems, like those used for asset management or enterprise resource planning. 

The combination of Bluetooth as a modern tool for field operations, with WirelessHART for conventional host system integration, empowers plant personnel to completely bypass a DCS, reducing efforts required to obtain smart instrumentation multivariable process value and diagnostic information. 

Analyze the data in the cloud 

Within the walls of a facility or the fence line of a plant, field device data is valuable, but by expanding to cloud-based systems, plant personnel unlock greater insight creation potential to further improve asset performance and utilization. 

Secure worldwide access to instrument data helps increase operational efficiency, while links between operational and business processes in cloud-based analytic tools, like Netilion, help each inform and optimize the other. Facilities of the future will continue to leverage preventive maintenance capabilities through wireless devices, and analytic systems will use the data from smart instruments to generate insights, leading to operational improvements. 

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