Sale of MOST product lines to GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms marks an end to MTL’s third party control dream
First casualty of Cooper Industries’ acquisition of MTL might appear to have been MTL’s and its CEO Graeme Philp’s ambition eventually to become the third-party supplier of choice of control systems platforms to the major process automation system vendors. Philp has frequently expressed the belief that the mainstream DCS vendors, which have increasingly based their offering on COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) technologies including Windows, PC hardware, Ethernet and MTL’s own I/O and intrinsic safety products, would eventually evolve to the point where they would make none of their own hardware at all and assemble their systems entirely from third-party supplied sub-assemblies and components.
With the announcement, however, of the sale of the MTL Open Systems Technology (MOST) product lines “including the MTL8000 general purpose I/O, intrinsically safe I/O, SafetyNet system and process control technologies” to GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, it might seem that Cooper is giving notice of its intention to focus MTL on its core intrinsic safety, fieldbus and industrial Ethernet businesses rather than further risking antagonizing its customers among first-tier process automation system vendors.
And to an extent that is true, although, as Philp told INSIDER on the line from Yokogawa’s user conference in Houston, the decision had in fact been taken before Cooper came on the scene. Back in January he had said that the Cooper acquisition was “almost perfect for us because it allows us to remain intact with no change in our management or organizational structure.” Observers of such transactions are accustomed to taking such assurances with a pinch of salt but even by those standards, the GE Fanuc deal seems a little precipitate. But that, according to Philp, is because it wasn’t actually initiated either by MTL or Cooper. In fact “GE approached us in the autumn last year, and we have been discussing this sale since then,” he explained.
MOST had its origins in MTL’s 2000 acquisition of Houston-based process control software developer Standard Automation and Control (STAC) and the subsequent decision to develop a control platform based on the already hugely successful MTL8000 series of distributed I/O which, over the years, has been adopted by, among others, Emerson, Honeywell, Siemens Process Automation, Novatech and GE Fanuc itself. Launched in 2003, the 8521 controller family and the subsequent MATRIX control system, the latter based on Invensys’ ArchestrA and Wonderware System Platform products, was seen as offering OEMs and system integrators significant advantages over conventional PLC-based solutions. However, while it had considerable success with second-tier system vendors, it never achieved the hoped-for breakthrough to being adopted by a mainstream DCS vendor.
“With the benefit of hindsight that was because of two factors,” said Philp. “One was the effect of the problems in the industry at the turn of the century, which meant that nobody was in a position to make a really strategic decision on hardware, and the other was that we simply underestimated just how important hardware still was financially and logistically to the DCS majors.”
As a result MOST was seen by some of them, most notably Emerson, as competing directly with its own offerings and, despite the best efforts of MOST president Dennis Gillespie and MTL’s then marketing and sales director, the late Jacques Mosselmans, as well as of Philp himself, those suspicions were never completely dispelled, although rather greater success was achieved with the more recently developed safety logic solver derivative SafetyNet, which achieved immediate success as a SIL-2 solution with Honeywell.
“Clearly we had a problem with the MOST business as some of our most important customers, the control companies, interpreted it as a move to compete with them—which it was never meant to be,” said Philp. “In the end, I think we simply got our timing wrong. If you like, we were ahead of our time. And there’s no doubt it was getting in the way of our relationship with the major vendors, and it’s far more important for us to continue to develop our fieldbus and network businesses. When we started talking to Cooper later last year, they agreed with our disposal strategy, and so the sale has gone ahead.”
Quite how GE Fanuc intends to position its new properties is not as yet clear. “This acquisition illustrates GE Fanuc’s commitment to the process market segments and will further enhance our offerings by providing customers with a superior line of SIL-2 controls, intrinsically safe-rated I/O modules and process control technologies,” said Control Systems Business vice president Bill Estep, while Director of Process Solutions Steve Ryan added that “The addition of the MTL8000 line of I/O re-emphasizes our commitment to providing our customers with the freedom to choose the I/O, safety and process control strategy that best meets their needs.”
Whether MOST’s traditional OEM customers will be quite so enthusiastic about having to rely on an increasingly aggressive competitor for their distributed I/O needs remains to seen. Only last month Novatech’s web site was reassuring its customers that the “Cooper acquisition of Measurement Technology (MTL) will not impact 8000 Series I/O availability or development,” a view that they might now wish to revise. What does seem likely is the early replacement of Matrix’s current ArchestrA-based software offerings with equivalents from GE Fanuc’s Cimplicity stable. Meantime, existing MTL customers and competitors will be watching closely to see whether the policy of focusing on core capabilities will impact other recent, pre-Cooper acquisitions and initiatives, including the Elpro wireless business, the RTK alarm business, the Ocean Technical SCADA operation or the Tofino cyber security solution.
One aspect of MOST’s business not affected by the GE Fanuc transaction, however, is the former STAC Wonderware distributorship in the US, recently rebadged as Wonderware West. That, perhaps not surprisingly, given the implications of its falling into GE’s hands, stays with MTL, with Dennis Gillespie continuing in charge. Indeed, according to Philp, it had for some time been effectively and organizationally separate from the rest of the MOST business with no common employees.” It’s actually extremely valuable to us not just because of the business itself ,but because of the insight it gives us into the HMI market, which provides us with intelligence which we can then use in our GECMA display business. ”
Returning to the disposal of MOST, Philp concedes that “It does seem a bit like the end of an era,” but it has not affected his own determination, following the Cooper acquisition, to stay with MTL for the foreseeable future. “There’s been an obvious need to integrate with them on things like finance and HR, but they’ve accepted from the outset that we’re a separate business with our own engineering, our own manufacturing and, even when we’re selling to the same customers, our own sales force. It’s early days yet, but so far they’ve been as good as their word.”
Whether there is such a thing as a programmable automation controller or PAC, the term coined by ARC’s Craig Resnick back in 2002, and, if there is, whether it differs in any real sense from a PLC are not questions it would be wise to ask at GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms at present, since they’re celebrating what they claim to be the fifth anniversary of the unveiling of the first of the genre. According to Control Systems Business vice president Bill Estep, what sets the company’s PACSystems apart and represents “a revolutionary change” in the industry is “control convergence rather than mere integration of disparate parts and pieces” based on “one engine, coupled with a single development tool.” Since 2003, GE Fanuc has released a steady stream of improvements and enhancements to its two platforms, the more affordable PACSystems RX3i and the mid-to-high-end RX7i. Most recent addition is the RX3i CPU320, incorporating an Intel 1GHz processor with 64Mbytes of user memory, which is claimed to have reduced logic execution times by more than 70%.
HART the only beneficiary as infighting continues . . .
Hard to believe, but it was back in January 2000 in our former guise of SCADA Insider that we somewhat optimistically suggested that ratification of IEC 61158 by 25 out of 29 national standards committees would “ring down the curtain on the fieldbus wars.” And in fact, as far as Europe has been concerned, and perhaps because of Profibus’ dominant position in the factory automation sector on this side of the water, that was largely correct.
Not so in the US, however. There Profibus has been up not just against the indigenous backing for Foundation fieldbus among process automation vendors, but against the entrenched position of DeviceNet and ControlNet in factory automation. That may go some way to explaining why hostilities have continued largely unabated since 2000, with increasingly heated exchanges between the Profibus Trade Organization (PTO) and the Fieldbus Foundation in recent months.
The North American edition of ProfiNews runs a column entitled “Debunking the Myths,” written, we understand, by PTO deputy director Carl Henning and aimed specifically and seemingly almost entirely at refuting what it sees as unsubstantiated claims or “parrot marketing” made about both protocols by the Fieldbus Foundation and its advocates, while at the same time promoting its own entirely objective assessments of both its own and its rival’s technology.
Until recently these exchanges had been relatively good-humoured if a trifle edgy, but the gloves came off in the March 2008 edition (http://us.profibus.com/newsletters/newsletter_19/Issue19.htm) when Henning wrote that “we are already thinking of presenting the 2008 Golden Polly Award to Rich Timoney of the Fieldbus Foundation no less” for an article entitled “Choosing The Right Technology for a Digital Automation Architecture” (http://www.fieldbus.org/images/stories/newsroom/downloads/bus_comparisons.pdf) which might, it has to be said, have been more correctly titled “What’s wonderful about Foundation fieldbus and awful about Profibus.”
It would require the wisdom of Solomon to determine who is less in the right or more in the wrong in this exchange. However, even those with a comparatively limited knowledge of this arcane subject would probably spot that Timoney’s statement that “Profibus now consists of three separate protocols grouped under the common umbrella name of Profibus . . . Profibus-FMS, Profibus-DP and Profibus-PA” is at best outdated—FMS faded away getting on for a decade ago—and at worst downright misleading. PA is a 100%-compatible derivative of DP. Similarly, however, Henning’s repeated assertion that both Foundation fieldbus and Profibus support function blocks, while undoubtedly true, skates over arguably the most important difference between the two, that Foundation fieldbus supports control in the field, whereas Profibus does not. To imply further that choosing to locate control in the host rather than in the field device is purely arbitrary and has no wider significance is again to be, at best, economical with the truth.
More important, however, than the rights or wrongs of the arguments themselves is the impression they give to the wider audience of potential users. As Walt Boyes points out in his Sound Off blog, (http://www.controlglobal.com/soundoff/index.html) more than two decades of this mud slinging has “left a terrible and lasting bad taste in the mouths of end users worldwide,” many of whom have as a consequence decided to “stick with the venerable 4-20mA DC-wired technology, with a HART overlay.” As evidence, Boyes points to the 26 million HART devices currently installed or shipping compared with 800,000 Foundation fieldbus devices and some 18 million Profibus/Profinet devices, the majority of which will presumably have gone into the factory automation sector. Nor do the repeated assertions from both camps—the one thing they do agree on—that HART can’t be counted as a true fieldbus, help their case; indeed it simply further undermines it. Just because it isn’t a true fieldbus doesn’t change the fact that it is their most formidable and successful competitor.
By continuing to argue over detail, what these two organizations have signally failed to do, even after 20 years, is to make a totally compelling case for the fieldbus concept. Boyes’ concern is that this bad blood will wash over into the wireless world and similarly poison potential users’ impressions of the technology and, hence, drastically reduce its rate of adoption. In that he may be right, although other observers, such as ARC’s Harry Forbes, argue that the advantages of wireless are so compelling that they will override such concerns. More important, in our view, however, is that continual squabbling at this level will increase the rate of adoption of Ethernet right down to the device level, thereby removing the perceived risk previously associated with backing the wrong fieldbus horse, and opening up the market to new contenders. Against that background, and with contenders such as Cisco and Motorola joining the fray, arguments over what is and what is not “parrot marketing” are supremely irrelevant.
The FF travels the road to RIO
The Fieldbus Foundation reports accelerating progress towards the definition of a High Speed Ethernet Remote I/O (HSE-RIO) specification which, it says, will tighten the integration of process instrumentation into its architecture. Describing HSE-RIO as an important step forward, Foundation president and CEO Rich Timoney said “Device networks offer communication capabilities, but do not provide a complete automation infrastructure. Foundation fieldbus delivers process integrity, business intelligence and open, scalable integration in a managed environment, making it a true system infrastructure. Users will realize CAPEX and OPEX benefits from incorporating remote I/O in this technology.” . . . but Profibus PA makes inroads into US
Profibus is set to make a major breakthrough into the North American process market with the news that Siemens has been selected as main automation vendor (MAV) for BASF’s new Joncryl polymer plant at Wyandotte, Mich. Scheduled for completion in 2009, the greenfield project involves more than 5,000 I/O and will be the largest Profibus PA installation in the U.S. with more than 3,000 field devices. It will also be one of the world’s largest applications of redundant fieldbus. The plant will be controlled by a fully redundant Simatic PCS 7 DCS with redundant fieldbus connectivity using active field distributors (AFDs), redundant networks, redundant controllers and redundant HMI servers, clients and batch servers.
Emerson first to take orders for WirelessHART
With all the noise and excitement which has surrounded wireless in general and the WirelessHart—sorry WirelessHART—standard in particular over the past few years, it comes as something of a surprise to find that, up until the middle of March 2008, nobody had actually been selling any WirelessHART products. Despite successive North American and European product launches, most recently in Vienna in November of 2007 it was only on March 17 that Emerson put out a press release claiming it had become “the first process automation supplier to begin taking orders for WirelessHART-enabled products.”
Initially Emerson’s Smart Wireless range of WirelessHART-compliant products includes pressure, flow, level, temperature and vibration transmitters and gateways, along with its AMS Suite predictive maintenance software and 375 field communicator. In the pipeline are pH, discrete and valve position transmitters, the Smart Wireless THUM Communicator which will allow WirelessHART capability to be retrofitted to legacy devices and a DeltaV native wireless interface.
Emerson estimates that demand for wireless technology will exceed €1.5bn by 2012, leading Emerson Process Management president John Berra to comment that “In my 39 years in process automation, I have never seen a technology with such compelling, immediate benefits … Wireless simply means a better way to put more eyes and ears in the plant, to enable the plant to run better, safer and greener. This is a truly wonderful day.”
Whether he added “My, oh, my” and burst into song at this point the press release, sadly, does not reveal.
Some of the less usual suspects
While Emerson’s WirelessHART announcement again highlighted its collaboration with Cisco in extending its wireless capability upward and across the enterprise, the extent to which wireless is opening up the process automation market space to new and powerful contenders was further emphasized by the introduction by Motorola of new wireless IEEE 802.11n-compliant wireless local area network (WLAN) solutions aimed at providing practical replacements for wired enterprise networks. These will in turn be supported by new LAN Planner software to aid migration of existing WLANs.
According to ARC’s Harry Forbes, while the technology offers significant benefits over wired networking in greenfield office environments, it makes even more sense on the plant floor, where installation costs are higher. Most process plants, he points out, still have little or no WLAN coverage and will become attractive targets when hazardous- area versions of 802.11n products become available, offering increased range, interference immunity and reliable wireless mesh backhauls.
Forbes points out that Motorola is already a significant supplier of WLAN equipment to leading process manufacturers and, following last year’s acquisition of Symbol Technology, also supplies the most popular voice radios and hand-held computers currently available to industry, a position which can only be enhanced by its new WLAN offerings.
Furthermonre, Massachusetts start-up AirSprite Technologies is offering instrument vendors and users an alternative and fast-track route into WirelessHART. Participants in its newly announced AccelerATE HART OEM Program will be able to integrate the specific features and functions of their devices with AirSprite’s WirelessHART intelligent infrastructure products. The AirSprite products are designed to connect directly to installed instruments and, hence, to unlock data in intelligent field devices and integrate it with plant and enterprise applications. “We created AccelerATE to assist field device manufacturers in getting to market quickly with a standard-compliant wireless offering,” explained AirSprite CEO Paul Sereiko. “Building on proven networking technology from Dust Networks, we’ve developed a core platform for quickly enabling OEM products to comply with WirelessHART.”
AirSprite is specifically targeting the oil and gas, chemical, power and water and wastewater industries, which have large numbers of HART devices installed, but without their HART functionality accessible. It has the enthusiastic support of Dust Networks whose vice president of marketing, Steve Toteda, believes it will “accelerate the broad adoption of WirelessHART solutions in the industrial market” and “provide industrial field device vendors with the wireless networking expertise they need to dramatically improve time-to-market and meet the growing demand for wireless monitoring and control solutions.”
Citect alumni take hosted application route to MES
While Australian SCADA vendor Citect’s profile has become progressively lower key since its acquisition by Schneider in 2006, a number of its former luminaries have resurfaced elsewhere, most notably at Australian-U.S. business information start-up myDIALS. One of the features of the last few years of Citect’s independence was its repeated attempts to build on the dramatic success of the original CitectSCADA by developing a complementary MES offering, variously and successively know as Plant-to Business, CitectIIM (for Industrial Information Management) and finally—and currently—Ampla. myDIALS brings the concept right up to date by offering a “software as a service” hosted application which extracts metric information from a user’s business applications and operational systems, calculates relevant KPIs and serves them back to individual decision-makers within the client organization in real time via interactive online dashboards.
Key figures at myDIALS are joint founders Peter Long and Darren Trumeter and CEO Wayne Morris. CTO Long was most recently founder and managing director of Australian professional services company OpX solutions, but was previously general manager of the business unit at Citect which developed its MIS/MES solutions. Trumeter, an SAP alumnus, sits on the myDIALS board, but is CEO of Austin, Texas, online e-learning company Sapling Systems. Before that, he was most recently COO of Citect and before that, president of its American operation. Completing the Citect triumvirate is Morris, who INSIDER last encountered when, as CEO of Citect, he visited London to launch CitectIIM five years ago. Morris moved on in 2005 to become senior vice president of worldwide marketing at McDATA while his successor, Richard Webb, stayed less than a year before Citect was sold to Schneider.
As well as adopting the fashionable hosted-application model, myDIALS adds value in the form of embedded general and vertical industry-specific expertise and best practices. To that end, it has recently formed a partnership with Boulder, Col.-based consultancy Evolving Collaborations under which it is embedding specific distribution and supply chain expertise into its deliverables. Meanwhile, one of its recent successes has been its adoption by Australian building products manufacturer Ausreo. The company, which supplies concrete reinforcement products to such projects as the Spencer Street Railway Station in Melbourne and the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link in Sydney, anticipates that myDIALS will enable its C-level executives and general managers to view safety, sales, production and inventory data and compare it with corporate and industry targets.
“ … understanding the key business drivers is critical to our success, and having that information available in a clear, crisp display wherever I am in the world is a real step forward,” said CEO Dennis Crestani. “Within days of myDIALS being implemented, we were able to see the complete picture for our safety data and a sample of our production data. We are looking forward to rolling out myDIALS to more of our employees which will then result in the alignment of organizational behaviour with our KPIs.”
Innovators’ market shares belie their influence on I/O
The worldwide market for I/O modules is set to grow at an annual rate of 5.6% to reach nearly $8bn by 2011, according to new data from IMS Research. The market is characterized by a large number of manufacturers from a diverse range of backgrounds and, although the traditional suppliers among the PLC and DCS vendors continue to dominate in terms of revenue, ‘third-party’ suppliers are becoming stronger as the remote I/O sector of the market continues to grow. Indeed ‘third-party’ suppliers are having a greater impact in terms of new product and technology than their current market share would suggest, says IMS.
I/O products with higher physical protection, for example to IP67, the bit-modular (slice) I/O module concept, wireless technology and I/O link technology have all been introduced first by third-parties who have consequently driven the introduction of new features and additional functionality across the market as a whole. Most third-parties have used their expertise as terminal block manufacturers or smaller specialist I/O suppliers to develop their products further and, hence, gain advantage when selling I/O modules as components to customers. In addition, they have benefited from the continuing development of open fieldbus networks and distributed solutions. That is in direct contrast to the established vendors, who have been more inclined to encourage customers to purchase integrated solutions from a single source that takes responsibility for ensuring compatibility between the components in the automation system and for resolving any problems that arise. This strategy, says IMS, seems to be their most effective means of protecting their market share. Increased competition between third-party and traditional suppliers has, it concludes, not only driven the introduction of new features and functionality, but has also driven down prices. However, both types of supplier will, it suggests, continue to coexist in the market for the foreseeable future.
The global low-voltage motor drive market continues to exceed all expectations, according to early indications from IMS Research that growth in 2007 continued at double digit rates and, in some regions, even surpassed the levels seen in 2006. While EMEA continued at a similar rate to 2006, growing by some 15% over the previous year, the Americas and Asia Pacific grew faster than the previous year. In the U.S., growth was better than 15% and in Asia Pacific more than 25%. “Motor drives continue to provide decision-makers with an effective way to manage their long-term energy costs, as well as significantly bringing down the total cost of ownership for a majority of the motors used by industry,” said IMS motor drives analyst Alex Chausovsky.
The worldwide market for radar level devices is set to grow at 5.9% compound over the next five years from $316m in 2007 to $421m in 2012, according to ARC’s newly published “Radar Level Devices Worldwide Outlook.”
“Radar level measurement technology has advanced significantly and is more broadly applicable in a number of difficult level measurement applications, such as bulk solids,” explains analyst and report author Allen Avery. “Increased accuracy, along with easy installation and a low maintenance profile, even when applied in harsh process environments, have helped radar level devices enjoy greater acceptance among users, making it one of the fastest growing level measurement technologies.”
While substantial increases in shipments to the chemical and marine segments are the major contributors to growth, sectors such food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and water and wastewater have all seen double-digit increases in shipments in recent years. And while non-contact or microwave radar devices still account for the majority of shipments, guided wave radar continues to see strong growth because it meets process industry requirements for loop power, low cost, applicability to liquids and bulk solids and interface detection.
Cyber security database helps users identify risk
Wurldtech Security Technologies, the Vancouver-based process automation cyber-security specialist established in 2006, has launched what it claims to be the first cyber-security vulnerability database for industrial control systems. Known as Delphi, it is designed to provide vendors, operators, system integrators and service providers with new levels of visibility into the reliability, safety and security of systems and networks supporting critical infrastructure. “We understand the unique security challenges facing the industrial automation industry today, particularly when attempting to address the issue of securing legacy industrial control systems,” explained Wurldtech president and CEO Tyler Williams, who described Delphi as a tool to “help our customers accurately identify real risks and make better-informed decisions to protect their industrial operations.”
Delphi is designed to address the shortcomings of the current situation in which security solutions for legacy industrial control systems are delivered through a small number of companies and through disparate commercial products from different vendors which lack integration and interoperability. This results in unnecessary complexity, increased operational costs, limited visibility and a reliance on inappropriate data in making critical security decisions. In consequence, the company claims, most industrial organizations have a weak security risk profile which manifests itself in insecure network infrastructures, incomplete regulatory compliance, security audit failures and increased security management costs out of line with business objectives.
Delphi leverages Wurldtech’s Achilles Security Analysis Platform to create a comprehensive database of known and unknown risk profiles for industrial control systems which can be used by plant operators, integrators and industry professionals as the basis for developing and implementing security strategies. It allows the user to answer questions such as “How secure am I?”, “Where should I focus my resources?” and “Am I doing everything I can to protect my enterprise?” and includes a repository of new signatures, vulnerabilities, safeguards and response guidance updated on a regular basis.
“A major industry challenge is the lack of known specific security risks that could impact the reliability and/or availability of industrial control systems,” said leading cyber- security guru Joe Weiss of Applied Control Solutions, who is a member of the ISA SP99 Process Control Security committee and has repeatedly testified to the U.S. Congress on cybersecurity issues. “Databases such as Delphi can provide a valuable source of information from which to plan, develop and deploy the appropriate security solutions for the unique requirements of industrial operations.”
OPC interoperability test lab opens in Germany
The OPC Foundation’s first Independent Certification Test Lab has opened at Ascolab’s facilities in Erlangen, Germany. Products validated and certified by the lab will carry a new OPC Foundation-Certified logo to provide end users with an assurance of excellence. As a result of the certification program, users can expect reduced system installation costs and products that will perform reliably in multi-vendor installations.
“To successfully integrate complex systems using products from multiple vendors requires that products be completely interoperable and simple to maintain, while providing plug-and-play configuration and high reliability,” explained ABB consultant engineer Paul Hunkar, who is the OPC Foundation’s director of Compliance & Certification. “The Independent Certification Test Lab system provides the infrastructure to ensure that vendors are designing and shipping high-quality, high-performance and high-functionality products.”
The backbone of the test lab’s operations is the reference hardware/software that forms the basis for testing all other products. Companies which have provided hardware or software as part of the program include ABB, Beckhoff, Cyberlogic, GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, Iconics, Kepware, Matrikon, OSI, Rockwell Automation, Siemens, Softing, Software Toolbox and Wonderware. All successfully-tested products and their certification details will be posted on the OPC Foundation website.
ABB’s safety management system gains TÜV approval
ABB has won approval from TÜV Rheinland for its functional safety management system for developing safety-related system integration in accordance with the IEC 61508 and 61511 standards. Certification by TÜV recognizes ABB’s functional safety management system as complying with international standards and having all the relevant documentation, functional safety assessments and company specific safety life cycle phases. It thus demonstrates to customers that ABB is working to a functional safety management system and a range of methods and procedures used to manage the day-to-day engineering for system integration.
“ABB is one of the largest suppliers of safety systems for the oil and gas, petrochemical and power industries worldwide,” explained Stuart Nunns, principal safety consultant and TÜV functional safety expert at ABB’s St. Neots, U.K. facility. “It is vital to demonstrate that we can follow applicable international standards and are able to deliver consistently performing, compliant safety systems from our factories around the world.”
ABB’s St .Neots Safety Execution Centre was the first organization in the U.K. to be certified by TÜV Rheinland and the first of ABB’s 14 Safety Execution Centres worldwide to implement the functional safety management system and achieve certification. It specializes in building safety systems based on ABB System 800xA HI, PlantGuard and SafeGuard safety systems, all of which are certified by TÜV to the relevant SIL levels.
ABB Norway and Metso Automation have entered into an agreement covering closer integration of Metso’s valve technology with ABB’s System 800xA automation system. With a specific emphasis on oil and gas, the agreement focuses primarily on Metso’s Neles ValvGuard product, which provides a robust valve testing, monitoring and maintenance tool to complement the capabilities of ABB’s asset management solutions. The two companies believe that integration will provide ABB System 800xA users with a proven, best-in-class solution for their valve applications. “We have already worked with Metso Automation for several years, and ABB is pleased that the co-operation now is formalized and taken to the next level,” said Bjarte Pedersen, vice president of ABB’s Oil and Gas business unit in Norway. “Combining proven automation technology from ABB with Metso Automation’s expertise within valve technology will lead to better process control and greater cost efficiency for the oil and gas producers.”
Solutions integrating Metso’s Neles ND9000 intelligent valve controllers with ABB’s 800xA system and asset management solutions are already in operation on the Shell Ormen Lange gas plant on the west coast of Norway.
What Dow really meant
Congratulations to Patrick Raleigh of Process Engineering magazine for extracting a statement from Dow Chemical about the implications for ABB of its decision to adopt Siemens’ PCS7 as its new standard for laboratory process control applications worldwide. Brief and to the point, it reads, “Dow is not replacing ABB with Siemens equipment for their general process control needs. The Siemens PCS7 system is being implemented solely to address some specific needs within R&D lab automation.”
IPS’ Egyptian joint venture is first of many
Invensys Process Systems (IPS) has entered into the first of what it anticipates will be a number of joint ventures as it rolls out a new business development model into emerging markets worldwide. Under the new agreement it is joining with ENPPI (Engineering for the Petroleum & Process Industries) and GASCO to create Invensys Process System Egypt. Described as the first “Industrial Automation Engineering Centre of Excellence” in the country, the new company is destined to play a significant role in the modernization of the Egyptian petroleum industry, helping to increase refinery utilization, maximize productivity and minimize maintenance costs. Chairman of the new company will be the assistant chairman of ENPPI, Eng. Mohamed Saad Yahia, while IPS will appoint a general manager.
The agreement, which was concluded between Egyptian Oil Minister Eng. Sameh Fahmy and Invensys CEO Ulf Henriksson, is designed to facilitate transfer of technical knowledge and expertise both to Egypt’s practising engineers and to the country’s new engineering graduates, thereby generating a deeper understanding of process control in the oil and gas sector. “This joint venture is an important milestone in the expansion of the Egyptian oil and gas industry,” said the minister. “Invensys Process Systems have clearly recognized the significant market potential in Egypt, and as a partner we will benefit substantially, not only in the field of technology transfer, but in job creation and local manufacturing.”
“This best business practise model enables profits to be shared with our customers while creating genuine partnership,” explained Henriksson. “We are committed to building a world-class modern facility which will include a versatile staging area, workshop and warehouse capable of handling the largest automation projects. Naturally we hope that our significant local presence will help enlarge our installed base in the country and promote the growth of high technology demand.”
Something of a milestone passed by Invensys’ Wonderware business unit with the claim that the number of its software licenses deployed by customers around the world has passed the half million mark. Moreover it also claims that a third of all the world’s plants run Wonderware software solutions, based on the fact that its software licenses have been sold to more than 100,000 plants or facilities worldwide, accounting for 33% of the world’s 305,544 plants with 20 or more employees. “To our knowledge, no other industrial software company has achieved this type of success as evidenced by the number of software licenses and customers,” said Wonderware director of product marketing Steve Garbrecht.
Past and present Invensystas will have near choked on their breakfast corn flakes last Monday when the face of former CEO Rick Haythornthwaite stared out at them in triplicate from the centre spread the business section of their Daily Telegraphs. Since passing over the reins to “a very able successor” in 2005, Haythorn-thwaite has built up a bewildering portfolio of interests ranging from non-executive chairman of Mastercard to chairman of London’s Southbank Arts Centre. What’s his recollection of his four years at Invensys? Few would disagree with his initial comment that “Here was a company in big trouble,” but they might have more difficulty with the rest of his narrative: “In 2001, Invensys was in financial free fall . . . I and the team systematically and methodically rescued it to the point that we were able to refinance it in 2004 … I thought I’d have it turned around in three years, but it took five. But it’s now a normal company – a boring company – which was always our aim. I’m very proud of that.”
You can digest the full article, including how our hero defused board room antipathy by the use of puppets—or was that managed subsidiaries through the appointment of puppets?—by going to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/04/07/ccprof107.xml
ISaGRAF adds RTOS support on Windows platforms
Rockwell subsidiary, or perhaps sub-subsidiary, ICS Triplex ISaGRAF has added support for TenAsys’ INtime real-time operating system to its IEC 61131 / IEC 61499 automation software development environment. INtime is a, if not the, leading RTOS for real-time applications on Microsoft Windows platforms and provides deterministic, hard real-time control, leveraging the powerful capabilities of Intel Architecture processors.
“Our ability to dedicate one core of a multi-core processor exclusively to the INtime kernel and ISaGRAF runtime engine, while the remaining cores run Windows, is unique,” said TenAsys vp of sales and marketing Kim Hartman. “It provides ISaGRAF developers with a reliable and deterministic Windows platform for microsecond level accuracy and repeatability.”
Using the ISaGRAF Development Toolkit with INtime, high-volume equipment manufacturers can build robust embedded systems, transforming controllers into top of the line PLCs, DCSs or RTUs. They can also access such features as data quality, millisecond time stamping, event sequencing, trending, alarming, processor synchronization, GPS support and redundancy.
Yokogawa America president and CEO Dave Johnson added a little extra spice to his welcome speech at this week’s Yokogawa North America User Conference in Houston by announcing that Yokogawa has acquired Analytical Specialities, Inc. (ASI), the Texas company which pioneered the application of Tunable Diode Laser (TDL) technology to on-line process gas analysis and whose instruments Yokogawa has been marketing in Europe under its own name. The innovation was described by Yokogawa’s Dr Sam Langridge at the UK launch last August (INSIDER, September 2007, page 6) as “the first significant development in the field since the introduction of zirconia technology in the 1970s. ” Yokogawa, it seems, has treated the European exercise as something of a dry run and, based on its success, has now decided to go ahead with the acquisition of the whole company. Former ASI president Trevor Knittel becomes general manager for laser technology in Yokogawa’s analytical business unit. Yokogawa reckons the market for TDL based analysers will be worth $150m by 2013 and expects to be market leader—what else?—with a 20% share.
Word on the Houston street is that Yokogawa is to adopt the MTL-Eric Byres developed Tofino as its standard cyber security solution for process automation systems.
Fieldbus Foundation SIF
The Fieldbus Foundation has announced plans for Foundation for Safety Instrumented Functions (Foundation SIF) demonstrations in The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Germany and the U.S. Scheduled for May 2008 is the demonstration at Shell Global Solutions in Amsterdam where a DCS-controlled demo rig is to be constructed with graphic panels showing safety devices and SIF functions, including an operator interface for partial stroke testing (PST) and asset management diagnostic information. The aim of the demonstration is to test safety valves with partial stroking capability, as well as various pressure and temperature devices. The installation will include three fieldbus segments with hardware from three different suppliers, enabling the integration with asset management and Basic Process Control System (BPCS) platforms to be assessed.
The SIF protocol, which has Protocol Type Approval from TÜV Rheinland, meets the requirements of IEC 61508. No changes were required to the existing Foundation fieldbus protocol to add the SIF protocol extensions. Further demonstrations are planned at Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, BP in Gelsenkirchen and Chevron in Houston.
Further suggestions of ongoing upheaval at Siemens come with reports in the German press in recent weeks that the company is planning to reorganize its international operations into a number of regional clusters; for example, combining Austria, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic into an eastern Europe group and France, Italy and Spain into a similar grouping. The move, which is predicted to be announced alongside the second quarter results at the end of April, is said to represent the latest phase in CEO Peter Loescher’s drive to reduce internal overheads and bring profitability in line with North American competitors. Meanwhile Siemens has announced the sale of its Siemens Wireless Modules operation to a consortium of private equity investors including Granville Baird of the U.K. and T-Mobile Venture Fund, part of Deutsche Telekom. Siemens WM is a significant player in the machine-to-machine or M2M market but, according to observers, has been constrained by being part of Siemens’ industrial controls business with its focus on the industrial sensor control sector, when its potential market is much broader.
Call for Membership
The Interoperability Compliance Institute (IICI), which has been established as the official compliance testing organization for standards such as WBF’s Business to Manufacturing Markup Language (B2MML) has issued a call for membership, following completion of preliminary work by its Technical Advisory Board (TAB). Based on the belief that interoperability standards allow manufacturers to build lean IT systems through common definitions of data and processes, IICI will address standards issues and compliance services, such as the integration of business and manufacturing systems following ISA95 data exchange using B2MML, certification services for software or applications to ensure they comply with specific criteria, testing of defined compliance levels and ensuring industrial schemas and associated standards are aligned. Future services might include the WBF BatchML Data Exchange Schema Standard, schemas related to ISA95 Part 4 and certificates of training for ISA95 and WBF Data Exchange implementation programs. Members will be entitled to use the IICI-certified logo on products and systems that meet the compliance specifications.