Emerson’s smart wireless technology monitors water usage at a GlaxoSmithKline plant in Ireland.

Wireless technology at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is monitoring water usage at its Cork plant in Ireland. Installation of Austin, Texas-based Emerson Process Management's Rosemount wireless flow and pressure transmitters on two new storage tanks allows the company to better understand water use throughout the facility, to trial the wireless technology, and to create a network for cost-effectively adding new process instrumentation in the future.

“GlaxoSmithKline [looks for ways to] improve plant performance by increasing the number of parameters measured,” says Emmett Martin, site services and automation manager at the pharmaceutical manufacturer, which has U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia. “Water is a considerable overhead to the plant, so it is important that we monitor flow rates to manage consumption and to help identify any usage trends.”

The Cork site produces a range of bulk active ingredients used in formulating prescription drugs. The existing water-storage facility was too small and had no measurement instrumentation in place. Two new storage tanks were installed along with new pipework infrastructure. The tanks are located 328 yards from the main control room where there was no existing cabling. A wired installation would have required power and data cables to be buried in trenches, so by adopting a wireless solution, the company avoided those costs.

Ten Rosemount smart wireless devices were installed, including six pressure transmitters, two flow transmitters and two level transmitters. The technology integrated seamlessly with the existing automation equipment. Flow data transmits every 30 seconds, and pressure and level data every 300 seconds to a smart wireless gateway strategically positioned on the control room roof. The gateway links via a serial connection to the existing DeltaV digital automation system that controls plant utilities. From there, the flow and pressure measurements transmit to a data historian and are available to plant operators for regular monitoring and reporting.

The new data obtained has enabled Glaxo to clearly identify water usage in different areas of the plant.