Simplicity and Scalability Driving I/A Series Roadmap

Invensys Plans to Continue to Streamline and Simplify Its Automation Platform

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Invensys Operations Management demonstrated its commitment to interoperability and consistency across all brands, a simplified and scalable product line and strategic partnerships with best-in-class suppliers at the 2009 Invensys North American Client Conference in Houston.

Betty Naylor-McDevitt, director, DCS business, Invensys Operations Management, explained how the company's I/A Series distributed control system is designed to improve productivity for all plant personnel, citing ongoing emphases on engineering, operations and maintenance, cybersecurity, fieldbus integration, Foundation fieldbus initiatives, 100 Series I/O migration, life-cycle management and competitive migration.

"Product line simplification means fewer products to support and maintain," she said. "It's a journey. We're not going to be there overnight. InFusion View will be our only HMI. InFusion Historian will be our only historian. InFusion System Manager will be our only system manager. It'll take us a few years to get there, but that's our journey."

Scalable product lines will mean cost reductions. "Right now, it's all or nothing. We want to have just the functions you need at the price point the market dictates. We can unbundle or create bundles that are base functionality, instead of full functionality," said Naylor-McDevitt.

"We want to focus on being the best controls company," she said. "For other things, we will partner with other companies and leverage their status in the market place."

Building on the 2008 release of Message Manager for the InFusion Engineering Environment, which allows alarm shower detection and suppression, updated high-speed data analysis software and sequence-of-events software, Invensys released the MOD300 plug-in migration solution for HART, which eliminates rewiring, and the AC Termination Series, which eliminates channel cross-talk over long distances, in April.

"We recognized that for their analog modules, people are moving to HART, rather than 4-20," said Naylor-McDevitt. "We built a HART-enabled module that can run as a 4-20. We're still the only one in the market that builds these cards in the form factor in which the competitors' cards were built."

I/A Series v.8.4.3, newly released this month, is designed for any Zone 1 or Zone 2 hazardous environment. It features IEE Change Tracking via FoxCTS and integrated Pepperl+Fuchs intrinsically safe I/O with increased I/O density and a smaller footprint, and it appears native to the I/A series. "A lot of North American plants are looking to save some space and looking to replace explosion-proof cabinets with this solution, like they already do in Europe," said Naylor-McDevitt. "This solution is incapable of emitting enough heat or energy to cause an explosion."

The 8.5 version of I/A Series, planned for January release, will include Foundation fieldbus in the field, cybersecurity enhancements, InFusion 2.0 and InFusion System Manager. "Foundation fieldbus control in the field is kind of new," said Naylor-McDevitt. "We are 100%-compliant with the mandatory aspects of the standard, and we took it a step beyond to reduce complexity. The benefits include engineering efficiency for fast and easy deployment for device commissioning built into the field device manager, based on FDT, for any device from any vendor."

Invensys is actually chairing the FDT committee, explained Naylor-McDevitt. "This standard says the DCS vendor supplies the engineering environment, and the device supplier provides advanced diagnostics applications," she said. "It gives you the choice of devices in combination with the system of your choice. It's a very powerful tool for doing predictive maintenance."

New I/A Series security features include changeable passwords and lock-down security, which allows for DCS cybersecurity compliance with leading standards.

The InFusion System Manager has the same look and feel, but with new features. "It now has a tree structure and is intuitively obvious," explained Naylor-McDevitt, who said her group will attempt to have one major feature release each September and have a maintenance release each year in May.

"As of April, we did our last Nodebus release," said Naylor-McDevitt. "From this point forward, we'll be doing safety updates only. As of January, all remaining Nodebus stations are mature, driven by component obsolescence. We build products to last 15-20 years. If you're buying on the front end, you have 15-20 years of guaranteed support. If you're buying on the tail end or mature end, the remaining years of expected support are fewer, so you're buying into a shorter life cycle."

The 2010 roadmap of releases also includes an updated Provox migration solution for HART in June, a 100 Series I/O migration in September and an I/A Series on Windows 7 and Server 2008, also in September. "We're skipping Vista," noted Naylor-McDevitt. "We want the multiprocessor multicore support, and it's fully supported by Microsoft."

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