Control News from Europe April 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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Add to that the fact that it has 40 people dedicated to product development—“that’s probably five times the size of the driver teams in most software companies”—and buy-versus-build becomes a much easier and more logical decision. Kepware is positioning itself to be the beneficiary, whoever eventually wins in the battle between ERP and automation for the MES space. As Kok explained, “We’re the Switzerland of the communications business.”

MES app adopts Service Oriented Architecture

The latest MES vendor to recognize the advantages of service oriented architectures (SOAs) is Citect ,with the latest release of its Ampla MES solution. Version 3.2 includes new features designed to support SOAs and reduce the time to develop operational reports. “. . . SOA is being rapidly adopted as a key to enterprise architectures by leading companies in mining and manufacturing,” explained Ampla global director Colette Munro. “SOA allows multiple applications to provide and consume services using standards, which in turn provides our clients with faster integration and more flexible business processes. The move to SOA has also enabled us to deliver new services to our customers more rapidly.”

Web services

The new release uses a new web service layer to support SOA. The web services have been designed from the outset to provide platform independence and broad interoperability based on culture invariance, time zone independence and WS-I compliance and Java interoperability testing.

As part of a focus on standards and connectivity, Ampla also connects more seamlessly to standard reporting tools, such as Microsoft Reporting Services and Crystal Reports, allowing IT departments and end users to leverage existing reporting infrastructure more easily. Also included is a new online knowledge base.

Availability of the new release comes as Citect reveals details of the first Ampla installation in the UK at Ryvita’s Poole, Dorset, crispbread facility where systems integrator Silchester Control Systems has achieved a 90% reduction in manual inputs across the production system. Ampla forms the backbone of a factory-wide reporting system integrating both Citect SCADA and Citect Reports and was installed by Silchester without downtime or loss of production. Ryvita supply chain director Mark Chesworth described the project as “a major step forward in terms of information accessibility for the site” and added that “We believe this evolution will prove to be truly empowering for our production staff.”

Windows CE as a Web Server

Austrian SCADA vendor Copa Data has released a new version of its zenOn SCADA package, incorporating a fully configurable alarm manager that allows a user to develop customized alarm display themes to improve readability and render alarm pages compliant with an end user’s or manufacturer’s specific color usage. A “traffic light” scheme against each alarm can also now be configured to comply with localized color scheme.

Arguably the most significant development, however, is the ability within zenOn Web Server Pro for CE to connect up to three browser clients to zenOn when running on Windows CE. Allowing the application and other information relating to a zenOn- controlled machine running Windows CE to be seen on a standard browser represents a significant cost reduction compared with alternatives and, claims Copa Data U.K. managing director Duncan Fletcher, defines “zenOn as the SCADA HMI of choice for machine builders.”

Also available in the version 6.22 is a Remote Desktop facility which allows the desktop of another computer or terminal to be viewed and operated remotely, for example, during commissioning. Remote Desktop is available on all CE and PC zenOn runtime stations, though not on web clients, and requires a Windows PC-based OS to access the “view and operate” functionality. The facility is now included as part of the basic zenOn package.

Emerson claims Europe's first offshore wireless

Emerson has released, or perhaps more accurately, has received approval from StatoilHydro to release more details of the installation of a Smart Wireless self-organizing mesh field network to monitor wellhead annular pressure and heat exchanger pressures on the Grane platform operated by StatoilHydro in the Norwegian Sea off Bergen. The network is believed to be the first offshore wireless installation in Europe and had been featured at the Vienna launch of Emerson’s Smart Wireless Architecture in November 2007.

“We had some concerns that this new technology would work reliably in the harsh environment of our offshore platform,” said Geir Leon Vadheim, instrument lead, Grane Operations, StatoilHydro. “We also needed to address the issue of how we would integrate the data gathered by the wireless gateway into a third-party system As it turns out, the integration was easy and the performance of the Smart Wireless transmitters has exceeded our expectations.”

Twenty two wireless Rosemount pressure transmitters have replaced traditional gauges using a gauge adapter fitting used to allow a direct “screw in” replacement, 10 measuring annular pressure on a wellhead and a further 12 monitoring inlet pressure and pressure drop over the heat exchanger. Each transmitter relays data back to the operator consoles in the control room via a wireless gateway mounted outside the process area, on one side of the platform and at a height where it can oversee the wellhead area.

Surrounded by metal

Although the wellhead area is crowded with metal pipe work and other metal obstructions and has metal walkways both above and below it, Emerson claims that each transmitter found the gateway as it was powered up and the mesh was established. The network enables continuous monitoring of pressures and eliminates the need for daily visits to the wellhead to record gauge readings manually. The resultant continuous monitoring enables unusual readings to be identified earlier and action taken to investigate and rectify faults before they develop into serious problems.

According to Geir Leon Vadheim, StatoilHydro’s instrument engineers are now confident about adding more wireless devices as required. “These typically take around two hours to install compared with up to two days for a conventional wired unit,” he said.

StatoilHydro is now planning to install Smart Wireless devices on other platforms in the area.

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