Control News from Europe May 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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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.

 


 

Siemens Reorg

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.

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