Location, Location, Location

Ray Peacock

The number of sensors being deployed is increasing exponentially across a wide array of industries and applications. Getting them up and running is only half the battle. If they are installed in such a way that accessing them for service or replacement is prohibitively difficult and costly, you've sacrificed the benefits of having them in the first place. Don't overlook the obvious.

A Hot Issue
You'd think ensuring access to the sensor to allow servicing would be obvious, but that isn't always the case. I recall a new furnace installation in a steel processing plant, where the control thermocouples were installed in the floor of the furnace. The service access points (there were multiple sensors) were 20 ft. above the sub-basement floor, in a confined space between rotating machinery. Replacing a sensor when the furnace was operating was a safety hazard. It was even difficult when the furnace was on a Hot Hold.

The service technicians finally installed a second array of thermocouples in the furnace sidewall, at plant floor level, accessible 100% of the time. To account for the new sensor measuring locations, the staff had to re-tune the control system. Unfortunately, the cost of the new installation was more than three times that of the original setup.

Get It Right the First Time
So think hard about problems uncovered during the installation process. Always consult with the people responsible for servicing the device. The time to ensure access is when the sensor is installed the first time. In doing so, you can keep the cost of the project down and avoid delays and lost measurements.