Brazil’s Samarco, one of the world’s largest exporters of iron ore pellets, has seen a 12% in production at its Germano mine in Mariana, with the application of Smart Wireless technology to improve plant availability and protect key assets. Emerson’s WirelessHARTTM standard network uses Rosemount® wireless flow and pressure transmitters to reliably monitor the seal water injection system of a dozen centrifugal pumps that remove reject material during processing. Fresh water is constantly injected into the operating pumps to consolidate the pump seals and to prevent the highly abrasive reject material from coming into contact with and damaging pump axles. The new technology delivers accurate measurements via a Smart Wireless Gateway directly into the facility’s DeltaVTM automation system. Operators can easily review flow and pressure data through AMSTM Suite predictive maintenance software, looking for trends that indicate problems and adjusting the process or scheduling preventative maintenance before asset damage or plant stoppages occur.The information provided by the new technology has increased availability at the Samarco facility and given operators the ability to boost production by 12%. The Germano mine produces about 20 Mt/y of iron ore pellets.“We can better protect our pumps from damage because we’re now able to identify potential faults in the pump seals,” said Luis Carlos, Technician at the mine. “We avoid reactive maintenance and plant shutdowns. We’re also able to see how much clean water we’re using in the process.”Prior to the installation of the Emerson Smart Wireless network, little flow or pressure data were collected from the pumps and the company experienced pump breakdowns weekly. The self-organising mesh network has performed reliably despite the dense concentration of pumps and pipes in the installation area and the fact that some equipment is located inside a tunnel, obstacles that would have made installing a hard-wired network difficult. Flooding, which occurs in the area during heavy rains, also would have been detrimental to a hard-wired network.“According to our past experience, we estimate that the wireless network cost 35 per cent less than what it would have cost us to install a hard-wired network,” Carlos said. “Everything has been working reliably, despite the difficult environment.”Smart Wireless is an extension of PlantWeb® digital architecture that offers solutions for field instrumentation and plant operations. In addition to the products installed at Samarco, other wireless products include Fisher® position monitors, Rosemount Analytical devices and Machinery HealthTM Management transmitters, and native wireless interfaces to Ovation® digital automation systems, and SmartStartTM services.