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Going Wireless  

By Jeff Becker, Honeywell Process Solutions |

As the chemical process industries (CPI) make the transition from communication protocols and systems that are cable-ready to those that are wireless, the conversation is changing. On the plant floor and in the executive suite, terms such as mesh network and interoperability bring new meaning to the manufacturing environment. But what does it all mean? How can companies truly begin to decode this new wireless world and choose which wireless solution, if any, is the right one for their operations? Strategies for prioritizing wireless applications in chemical process plants include determining where wired solutions are impractical or cost prohibitive, identifying applications that involve high-energy and natural-resource usage, and optimizing field-worker productivity. And these decisions must be made with consideration to  future applications and technologies that are not yet available. Consider, for example, the case of an ethanol-plant tank farm, where large tanks serve as holding stations for ethanol to be delivered to distributors. Although the tanks are ventilated, the tank farm is an enclosed area and the ethanol, which is nearly pure-grade alcohol, emanates intense vapors. Since the vapors always pose the risk of ignition,…
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