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Extronics has announced that its wireless network for hazardous environments has been selected by Evonik Degussa Seal Sands to improve overall efficiency in its Seal Sands, UK-based plant.

Evonik Degussa Seal Sands required a robust and cost-effective measure to calculate the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) of its critical plant equipment in real time.

By installing Extronics’s WLAN, Evonik Degussa Seal Sands has extended quick, efficient assessment of OEE into the extreme environments and Zone One hazardous areas found in its plant.

As part of its continuous improvement initiative, Evonik Degussa Seal Sands has developed a software package to measure and improve the OEE of critical equipment.

OEE is the framework for measuring how effectively a process is producing product in the time it is planned to run, by breaking it down into three constituent components (availability, performance and quality).

OEE helps measure and highlight areas with the greatest potential for improvement, and provides a standardised method of monitoring progress.

The software, developed in-house at Evonik Degussa Seal Sands by IT manager, Paul Shields, allows process operators in the production plants to log faults and other critical information relating to the production equipment.

By doing this, the operator obtains instant feedback on how the equipment is performing and can then take action to improve for the future.

Extronics was tasked with providing an economical and scaleable system for the plant operatives to input the OEE data in many locations on the reactor floors of four production buildings.

Initially Evonik Degussa Seal Sands wanted to install several fixed LAN Ethernet connection points.

However, the cost of installing this type of LAN infrastructure in a Zone One hazardous area, and the future scalability, made little commercial sense.

Extronics recommended its Meru-powered iWAP101 802.11a/b/g WLAN access points, which are centrally managed and controlled using a single-channel architecture, thereby providing a robust and stable WLAN for heavy-metal environments.

With a WLAN installed, portable PC terminals and PDAs with barcode scanners or RFID readers can be used to gather data, or active Wi-Fi RFID tags can be used to track assets and people.

It also allows for future applications without further infrastructure costs.

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