Control News from Europe February 2008

Read Andrew Bond's Industrial Automation Insider, a monthly newsletter covering the important industrial automation news and issues as seen from the U.K.

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“Manufacturers of complex, asset-intensive products like automobiles are turning to holistic factory simulation to decrease time to full volume production,” said Aberdeen Group vice president & group director of Product Innovation, Engineering and Manufacturing Research Jim Brown.

IBM Joins Rockwell Solution Provider Program

The latest recruit to Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk Information Solution Provider program is IBM’s Global Business Services. Launched in October 2006, the program is designed to provide an extended network of information systems professionals who can assist manufacturers in integrating their control and information environments by training and certifying participants on implementing applications within FactoryTalk. Joining the program extends IBM’s existing relationship with Rockwell by helping manufacturers build plant-wide information applications and MES implementations using FactoryTalk. The two companies have been actively collaborating on plant-to-enterprise solutions within several industries including automotive and life sciences.

GE Fanuc’s Process Initiative Gains Credibility

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms’ loudly trumpeted move into process automation has gained a degree of credibility with the news that Xinneng Energy, a leading supplier of energy-chemical products and services based in Zhangjiagang, China, has implemented the new Proficy Process Systems process control system. Xinneng Energy produces dimethyl ether (DME) from methanol for use as an aerosol propellant, a cryogenic freezing agent and a clean-burning alternative to liquefied natural gas, diesel and gasoline. It is seen as a particularly attractive alternative to natural gas in South East Asian countries such as India and China.

The new plant in Zhangjiagang was designed to produce a million tons of DME per year on three production lines, and Proficy Process Systems will be controlling these and a further two lines planned to come on-stream during 2008.

High Availability

The solution adopts a high-availability architecture using the Proficy HMI/SCADA – Cimplicity technology option for its operator consoles, a system server running Proficy Historian and RX7i processors using reflective memory technology from GE Fanuc Embedded Systems, which provide controller redundancy with data synchronization rates of two gigabits per second. The architecture also includes Ethernet I/O networking with remote I/O based on RX3i high availability remote I/O stations.

A common global namespace, based on technology co-developed with GE Energy, simplifies configuration and maintenance by allowing objects and tags in the system to be defined once and then referenced and used commonly throughout the system. As well as reducing system configuration time by 30%, the broadcasting technology used between controllers and operator consoles provides inherent system redundancy.

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