BP Goes Wireless, Improves Process Equipment Availability
February 13, 2009
BP has expanded the wireless installation at its Cherry Point refinery in Blaine, Wash., with systems from St. Louis-based Emerson Process Management. The chemical giant also has employed a self-organizing “smart” wireless system from Emerson at its tank farm for research and development efforts in Naperville, Ill., as part of a worldwide upgrade of its refineries.
BP Cherry Point is a 225,000-barrel-per-day refinery and is the largest supplier of calcined coke to the aluminum industry. According to the company, one out of every six aluminum cans is made using BP Cherry Point’s calcined coke. Emerson’s wireless instrumentation installed on the refinery’s calciner unit monitors bearing and calciner coke temperatures to help prevent fan and conveyor failure. (On Cherry Point’s calcined coke line, fans failures can result in up to $100,000 in repair/replacement expense as well as production disruptions and losses for up to 10 days.)
Cherry Point installed 15 wireless transmitters from Emerson in 2006 that continue to operate reliably while eliminating operator rounds in the field. Cherry Point has since expanded the wireless network to 35 transmitters, including the tank farm and utility applications, as well as a wireless gateway in the diesel unit. The principal advantage is that the company now has the ability to accumulate and analyze a greater array of data than would otherwise be economically possible, according to Michael Ingraham, technical manager for the refinery.
The second facility, BP Naperville R&D, is a technology center that includes a tank farm feeding a number of pilot plants focused on developing processing technology options for BP refining worldwide.
Following the wireless installations at the Cherry Point refinery, BP installed a 45-transmitter wireless network at the Naperville tank farm. Operational for about one year, the installation has provided BP a platform for additional testing of the technology. The successful implementation has led to significant takeup of wireless at other BP refineries worldwide.
According to personnel at the Naperville facility, the wireless devices allow operators to collect data from one central point rather walking around the tank farm and recording all the values. Another advantage is that the wireless devices supply data continuously for recording, allowing management to see what’s happening in the tank farm at any time of day.
The Naperville wireless network uses Rosemount wireless transmitters to monitor suction and discharge temperatures, pressures, levels and flow.