Independent protection layer issues offer second front

Excerpts from the April 2007 issue of Industrial Automation Insider newsletter, Andrew Bond, editor. For more information, go to www.iainsider.co.uk. Reused with permission.

By Andrew Bond

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Fears of a fieldbus-like debacle, coupled with the apparent outbreak of common sense among their Wireless HART colleagues, seems to have concentrated minds wonderfully at the recent meeting of the ISA-SP100.11a working group in Karlsruhe, Germany. The 60 attendees unanimously approved the scope and systems architecture of Release 1 of the draft standard which it now anticipates will be complete by October 2007, making agreement on a standard by 2008 a real possibility. “The standard will be simple to use and will be focused on serving process industry applications without excluding factory automation,” said the working group’s lead editor and co-chair Pat Kinney.

This first release is aimed at Class 1(non-critical) to Class 5 applications, such as monitoring, and will include only 2.4 GHz 802.15.4-2006 radios using channel-hopping to support co-existence and increase reliability. There will be a single application layer which will “provide simple, flexible and scaleable security addressing major industrial threats”, says the ISA press release which adds that it will also offer field device meshing and star capability, which should keep both Emerson and Honeywell happy. 

The working group also agreed that the second release will include critical Class 1 to 5 applications in addition to monitoring as well as additional gateway and network manager functionality as needed.

Mitsubishi’s Wonderware Deal Threatens Citect
In recent years Mitsubishi in the U.K. has offered its own versions of independent SCADA vendors’ products to complement its range of PLCs. Back in the ’90s that meant rebadging Intellution’s Fix and iFIX products as, respectively, MX32 and MX2000, but when Intellution was acquired in 2002 by rival PLC vendor GE Fanuc, that deal was laid to rest after a decent interval, and a new arrangement was reached with Australian SCADA vendor Citect. Under that arrangement, not only was Citect SCADA rebadged as MX4 SCADA, but also Citect’s MES offering was taken on as MX4 Business.

When Schneider acquired Citect last year after an extended tussle with U.S. private equity interests, the usual assurances were given that there would be no change in existing arrangements, and that Mitsubishi would continue to use the Citect products. Now, however, if news from Japan is anything to go by, it looks rather as if the Citect deal may be about to go the same way as the Intellution one.

Preferred Solution
That news, announced at last month’s MP2 (MELSEC Process Partners) Technical Forum, was of an agreement between Mitsubishi and Wonderware under which both companies will facilitate and promote the use of Wonderware software with Mitsubishi hardware. Mitsubishi leads the Japanese PLC market, and Wonderware is already widely used there both with its and other vendors’ systems. Mitsubishi will now recommend InTouch to customers as its preferred monitoring solution, especially for those with medium-to-large scale installations, and the two companies have also undertaken to develop tighter integration of InTouch with Mitsubishi’s PX Developer integrated development environment. They’re also going to develop specific enhancements including integration of Mitsubishi components into InTouch faceplate displays, streamlined process I/O communications, tag-data interoperability and integration of alarms. Further collaboration is also planned in the area of MES to enable Mitsubishi users to take advantage of Invensys Wonderware’s ArchestrA technology and to develop object models for plant entities.

Given such a level of integration with Wonderware in Japan, it’s hard to believe that Mitsubishi will continue its relationship with Citect in the U.K. for much longer – or that John Bailey will pass up the opportunity to bring Mitsubishi within the Wonderware U.K. fold. The only thing putting him off is perhaps the possibility of the Mitsubishi jinx ensuring the early acquisition of Wonderware by yet another hardware vendor!

Citect has added Rockwell’s RSView to the growing list of HMI/SCADA systems for which Switch2Citect importers are available. With Fix32, iFix, InTouch and FactoryLink already covered, it claims that over 50% of the world’s installed base of HMI/SCADA systems can now be converted to CitectSCADA, while further planned importers, including those for WinCC, Wizcon and Genesis32 will soon bring that figure to 65%. Users can “try before they buy” by sending in three displays from their existing system to see how they import before purchasing.

Still mystified by the Wonderware System Platform? We’re reliably informed by an entirely objective observer that by far the best and clearest explanation is to be found on the Wonderware South Africa web site. Given the preponderance of South African influence in the development of a number of key Wonderware products, that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. What is a surprise is that the page hasn’t yet been syndicated around the Wonderware world.

Emerson Reorganizes for Assault on SCADA Market
Following last year’s acquisition of Bristol Babcock, Emerson has formed a new Remote Automation Solutions division to bring together its Bristol, Fisher, Daniel and Mobrey remote technology products and services into a single business targeting the oil, gas, water and wastewater treatment industries. The new division is to be headed up by former Bristol president Jack Kelly, who will be president. Jon Milliken, former president of the Flow Computer Division, will be executive vice president. Divisional headquarters will be at the former Bristol HQ in Watertown, Conn., with manufacturing facilities there and in Marshalltown, Iowa, Pickering in the U.K. and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

Wireless Expertise

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