Marcelo Dultra, global product manager, Westlock Controls, explains the  importance of having a valve monitoring system in place, and shows how Westlock’s wireless monitoring system achieves greater visibility of valve equipment, overcoming the space and cost issues associated with wire.

The need to monitor plant equipment has never been greater. However, the investment needed to introduce conventional wired systems means some valves remain unmonitored, therefore many plant operators are unable to maximise operational efficiency and safety.

Conventional wiring to connect valves and actuators with a plant control system is costly and requires a considerable footprint. With only around 10% of all potential monitoring instrumentation currently installed, plants are at risk of incurring loses or running environmental and safety risks when a manual valve is incorrectly left open, closed or partially open and remains undetected for a period of time.

In order to overcome the capital investment and space obstacles to installing a valve monitoring infrastructure, Westlock Controls has launched a wireless valve monitoring system. Specifically designed for both manual and automated valves, the system integrates directly with a plant control system using wireless technology to achieve greater monitoring visibility of valve equipment, improving efficiency and safety in plant operations.

The Westlock solution is as an integrated unit with direct mounting to valves or actuators and uses the company’s distinctive beacon visual indicator. There are a range of size and material options, as well as intrinsically safe devices for hazardous applications (FM/IEC/ATEX Zone 1).

Typically half of the input/output points in a plant control system are used for on/off valves. However, due to wiring cost constraints only one third of these automated valves have position feedback or monitoring. More significantly, for every automated on/off valve there will be another three to four manually operated valves on the plant. This leaves a large proportion, anywhere between 40 to 95%, of the valves without any monitoring. By eliminating the need for wires, conduits and associated hardware, plant operators could use wireless monitoring to increase this percentage without the high cost of installation and additional hardware of traditional wired systems.The Westlock system also overcomes accessibility issues when valves are in hazardous or difficult to access locations.

Without monitoring it is impossible to assess the efficiency of a valve, but by using the real-time information supplied by the wireless system, these inefficiencies can be reduced.

The system can work with both manual and automated valves and integrates directly with a wider plant control system. Based around the valve monitoring wireless device (WD) the system also includes the wireless router (WR), gateway (WG), handheld (WH) and the Wireless Management System (WMS) software. AES 128bit encryption security is built into the wireless communication to provide a reliable and robust solution.

The system is suitable for both rotary and linear monitoring and has the option of an internal or external antenna. The device has a 10 year battery life, and the units are easily commissioned and calibrated using the wireless handheld. Low power consumption and immunity from background interference means the unit offers reliable readings and transmits messages in real time. The wireless device reports the valve position enabling valve signatures to be created for all automated valves. It also monitors temperature, battery status and alarms.

Westlock Controls