Emerson Wireless Solutions Deliver Plant Intelligence Even Under Extreme Conditions

Steel mills use arc furnaces that operate at more than 1,600 degrees Celsius.  Temperature control is critical to ensure high-quality steel, yet even the nearby air temperature exceeds 60 degrees Celsius, and molten slag often spews up to 80 feet around the furnaces.  Any volunteers to go check the furnace temperature?

Probably not.  That’s why industrial manufacturers around the world are increasingly turning to Emerson’s Smart Wireless innovations for “extreme networking” needs.


Emerson experts have developed a range of wireless sensors that work in places where people can’t go and where stringing wires isn’t practical.  In fact, Emerson is an industry leader in machine-to-machine communications today, with more than one billion hours of wireless sensor operations logged to date, spanning 10,000 plants, refineries, and chemical factories across the globe.

Emerson intelligence has all the extremes covered:

• Our sensors are monitoring for oil pipeline leaks on the North Slope of Alaska, in temperatures of minus 44 degrees Celsius, with wind chills as low as minus 56 degrees Celsius.
• Emerson has developed solutions that handle extreme temperature change, such as our pipeline-monitoring devices in the Chilean desert that see temperatures ranging from minus 15 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius.
• Our sensors are used in the deserts of the Middle East, where they must withstand not only sandstorms but also the occasional gnawing from passing camels.
• Emerson solutions monitor operations at offshore oil and gas platforms, including deep undersea monitors.
• We have devices operating in magnetic fields strong enough to break your watch.
• And we make instruments that take important measurements in areas of sewage treatment plants where people technically could go but wouldn’t really want to.

These types of machine-to-machine communications help take people out of harm’s way, but they also provide intelligence to help people focus on the big picture. 

Take steam traps, for example.  These simple devices help manage the flow of steam throughout a refinery or processing plant, but they malfunction all too often.  Emerson estimates that an average refinery can lose up to $4 million annually in energy costs because of malfunctioning steam traps. 

Fixing those broken steam traps is simple enough … finding them is the problem.  An average refinery has 8,000 to 10,000 of these steam traps, with 5 percent to 10 percent of them failing on average every year.  Until now, the only way to inspect all of these traps was to send someone out to inspect each and every one.  An inefficient job at best, and a dangerous one at times. 

Emerson took on this challenge and developed a wireless sensor that solves this problem.  With sensors monitoring performance of each steam trap, maintenance teams know exactly which ones need attention.  Instead of searching for needles in 10,000 haystacks, refinery operators suddenly have pinpoint accuracy and can focus all of their time on meaningful maintenance.

Even as sensors like these dramatically improve industrial monitoring, Emerson engineers are looking to the next technology innovation:  wireless control.  Take, for example, an oil wellhead where wireless instruments not only measure the oil flow, but also directly control it safely and reliably without any wires. 

With Emerson wireless sensors and devices operating on the IEC 62591 (WirelessHART) industry standard, approved for use in more than 120 countries today, and delivering state-of-the-art encryption and security that is approved for use by the Federal Information Processing Standard for sensitive information, Emerson is uniquely positioned to deliver intelligence to virtually any industrial facility.

And when that intelligence helps keep people safe and focused on driving efficiency, it’s a powerful business advantage.

Our commitment to continually combine and advance technology and engineering enables Emerson to produce solutions that provide a competitive advantage for our customers.