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In fact, the Wonderware relationship had its origins back in South Africa in the early ’90s when the same team developed what subsequently became Industrial SQL server and was acquired by Wonderware. Shortly after the 2005 launch, DataWorks changed its name to Incuity and introduced its new flagship product, IncuityEMI (for Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence).
It’s that product, in its latest version 2.6, that is the focus of the Rockwell acquisition. Rockwell Software vice president Kevin Roach describes it as giving Rockwell “the vital top layer in the information chain where the roles of the ERP vendor and industrial automation vendor meet” and “a key milestone in the continued expansion of our FactoryTalk software suite.”
Incuity has much in common with Lighthammer, the MES vendor acquired by SAP in 2005, not least because Lighthammer also had its antecedents in Wonderware. This latest acquisition suggests increasing maturity in the MES space as both ERP and automation vendors recognize the importance of the convergence of the real-time and transactional worlds. Commentators such as ARC’s Greg Gorbach and AMR Research’s Alison Smith believe that by acquiring Incuity, Rockwell has stolen a march not just on its automation rivals, but even on ERP vendors such as SAP as they seek to integrate more closely with the shop floor. “The acquisition … gives Rockwell Automation enterprise manufacturing intelligence capability that rivals―even surpasses―the likes of SAP’s MII on many measures, and potentially positions Rockwell Automation to commoditize many of its traditional controls platform competitors by providing a control-platform-agnostic intelligence layer,” said Smith.
Incuity’s management team, including CEO Doug Lawson, and its employees are to become part of Rockwell’s Architecture & Software operating segment, although on past form quite how long some of them will stay must be a matter of speculation. In the meantime, many members of the distribution network Incuity has been assiduously building both in North America and further afield including, in the U.K., Duncan Fletcher’s Matrivue, may be wondering whether their sudden and new found proximity to Rockwell sits comfortably with their other relationships.
Cooper Crouse-Hinds subsidiary MTL has wasted no time in making good its assertion that its disposal of its MOST systems and I/O business to GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms allows it to focus on its core businesses in intrinsic safety, fieldbus and industrial Ethernet. Last month’s Interkama show in Hanover, Germany, saw it announcing a series of significant developments. Add to that the news that Yokogawa has confirmed last month’s rumor that it is adopting the MTL/Byers Security Tofino product as its standard cyber security solution for the CENTUM CS 3000 and STARDOM control systems, and Cooper Industries’ £140m acquisition of MTL is beginning to look like the steal of the year.
Of the developments on parade at Hanover, by far the most significant, was MTL’s new “Fast Switch” technology that allows the safe use of higher than normal power levels in intrinsically safe (IS) circuits, while continuing to meet certification requirements under existing standards. Fast Switch’s particular contribution lies in enabling “live” maintenance of devices in hazardous areas by sensing the fall in voltage at the load when a break is made in a circuit, or a device is unplugged and disconnecting the load. As a result, it prevents the build up of voltage at the break which could otherwise generate an incendive spark.
The simple and effective Fast Switch circuitry conforms to the principles of intrinsic safety and has been proven using the standard spark test apparatus according to international standards. It makes its debut in the MTL 9491-IS power supply, part of the 9400 Series of Intrinsically Safe Power over Ethernet or PoEx devices launched at Interkama. MTL believes the 9400 Series will remove significant barriers to the adoption of industrial Ethernet in the process industries. It allows live connection and disconnection of the end device in an industrial Ethernet installation in Zone 0 and Zone 1 hazardous areas, and as a result is claimed to reduce the cost of installing a LAN in a hazardous area by typically 40%.
Included in the series are a wireless LAN access point, managed Ethernet switch, copper-to-fiber media converter and serial gateway, all certified for mounting in Zone 1 with connectivity into Zone 0, together with a Zone 2 mounting IS Ethernet isolator and the associated Fast Switch-based IS power supply, which allows live power connection/disconnection without the need for a gas clearance certificate.
The serial gateway supports Ethernet connectivity for legacy IS series devices such as analyzers, displays and I/O, while the wireless LAN device provides hazardous area infrastructure for IS PDAs anywhere on a plant. MTL says the technology has already been proven in use in mining applications, but can now be extended to process applications under ATEX and IECEx certification.
MTL is also claiming a further “first” with the introduction of redundancy for FISCO (Fieldbus Intrinsically Safe Concept) protected Foundation fieldbus networks in hazardous areas. This enhancement to MTL’s FISCO product range, first introduced in 2002, eliminates the risk of network failure in the event of the loss of a single power supply unit and meets end user demand for higher levels of availability.
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