IIoT Requires Network Reliability

By Paula Hollywood

Industry Trends

When considering asset performance management, one generally thinks of the asset without considering the reliability of the asset’s communication network. While asset reliability is the ultimate goal, it can never be assured if connectivity to the asset is unreliable as attendees in ARC forum session, "Minimizing Safety Risks with Asset Performance Management", were reminded by Mr. Maamor, Principal Instrumentation and Control Engineer at Petronas.

A fully integrated oil and gas multinational based in Malaysia, Petronas employs over 15,000 people to operate its more than 80 development projects around the world. Operations include 130 onshore and offshore rigs, 23 FPSO/FSO units, 6 LNG projects, and 4 unconventional assets. The research project’s ultimate goal was to improve safety and asset reliability in an offshore environment utilizing a long distance ISA100.11a wireless communication system.  The unmanned Zuhal platform was selected to demonstrate the reliability, interoperability, stability, and delivery of full wireless functionality over a long distance. Located in the South China Sea 130 km offshore, Zuhal was selected due to its remote location, signal transmission distance of 5 km, harsh operating environment, and potential for signal interference caused by steel structures on the rig. System hardware included a gateway, two access points, multiple pressure transmitters and gas detectors, 4 repeaters, and 4 high gain antennae. Yokogawa’s web-based FAST/TOOLS system architecture was employed for system management, control, and visualization.

Packet Error Rate (PER) and Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) were designated as metrics for the six month test. The system maintained an approximate signal strength of 60 dbm and 0 percent PER demonstrating the robustness of the ISA100 Wireless Standard for long distances in a harsh environment. Perhaps more importantly, the test demonstrated that plug and play interoperability of different vendor products in the network, essential to IIoT, is achievable.  The Petronas team believes that its research has proven concrete benefits of ISA100 Wireless in safety applications, delivering cost reductions and operational flexibility; and that ISA100 Wireless is able to deliver full wireless functionality in mesh, star, or mixed topology.

At the close of the session, Mr. Andre Ristaino, Managing Director, ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute presented the Institute’s 2015 Excellence in Automation Award to Mr. Maamor and Petronas for this research project citing that it quantified the performance of an ISA100 Wireless based safety system at an offshore operational site.  CONGRATULATIONS PETRONAS TEAM!!

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