By Aaron Hand, Contributing Editor
As we take a look at our modern world, it's worth also taking a look at what it means to modernize. Over the past 100 years, modernizing has meant an industrial revolution in which there's been a 5% compound interest in productivity for manufacturers, notes Rick Morse, vice president of control and safety for Invensys Operations Management (http://iom.invensys.com).
These days, we push a button, and we expect to get things instantly. "We are now rather spoiled, to put it plainly," Morse says. "We like the growth, but we also want all these choices." For manufacturers, that means being driven to much shorter cycles as they respond more quickly to customers' needs, he adds.
As we move forward, we're shifting from an age in which productivity meant replacing people with automation to one where automation and systems are empowering people. "We're transitioning from an industrial revolution to an information revolution," Morse says.
Other manufacturing trends include a progression from independent optimization of production processes to a more comprehensive view, a drive to manage business in real time rather than basing decisions on historical information, a more holistic view of corporations, and increasing need to react quickly to changing market requirements.
Driving modernization is not just about control excellence, Morse says, but about improving people excellence. "It's how to improve the use of all assets," he says. "How do I run it safely and effectively to where I get more out of the safe operating zone that I'm running my plant in?"
At this year's OpsManage'11 North America event, taking place Nov. 8-10 in Nashville, Tenn., modernization will be top of mind as Invensys introduces several new products designed to address the issue head on. They're all centered on driving operational excellence through integration across the enterprise. The InFusion Enterprise Control System is the integration platform that connects all the pieces together, Morse says.
Invensys has announced the update of its ArchestrA System Platform and ArchestrA Workflow, which provide the core integration and collaboration platform inside the InFusion system. Used together, they offer a broad range of automation and information functionality that allows users to empower their people, processes and systems for real-time business optimization.
The latest iteration of the company's ArchestrA control and information management architecture, called ArchestrA System Platform 2012, improves performance, strengthens security, simplifies installation, increases operator and engineering productivity and efficiency, and supports new high-availability disaster recover implementations using Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V virtualization.
The 2012 update also provides tighter integration with Invensys' ArchestrA Workflow and Wonderware InTouch HMI software. Customers will be able to unite their existing automation and IT systems and applications with offerings from Invensys, its ecosystem partners and other third-party providers so they function as one holistic enterprise control system.
On Tuesday, Invensys will introduce the next iteration of its Foxboro I/A Series distributed control system (DCS), which includes an intelligent marshalling solution and Foxboro Control Software 3.0. Invensys helps users optimize their businesses in real time with their existing automation systems, preserving their existing investments and lowering their total cost of ownership.
One example is the Foxboro plug-in migration program, a unique breakthrough that supports continual plant modernization by supporting systems that other companies have abandoned. "We'll create the cards that we can support for decades to come. We're able to provide that security for customers, which is unique in the industry," he adds. "If they make the mistake of showing that they're not willing to keep those customers current, we will."
Intelligent marshalling can save up to 20% of the cost of implementing a process control system, with ongoing savings throughout the operational life. With traditional control systems, field wiring must be sorted out in a marshalling cabinet before it's connected to the main I/O module terminal strips of the DCS panel. The I/A Series Intelligent Marshalling solution eliminates the need for marshalling with a universal fieldbus module that supports a variety of analog and digital signal types.
"It's a real game changer for whole system replacements and greenfield installations," Morse says, explaining that the I/O channels are configured through software after wiring, which enables system designers to make last-minute changes and add new modules to the end rather than having to rewire everything. "I don't know a system out there that's done perfectly the first time," Morse says. "They usually need a few extra transmitters or valves or bypass or something." The intelligent marshalling system makes it "much, much simpler."
Wednesday will see the release of the latest version of the Wonderware InTouch HMI software, which includes enhancements and performance improvements, including strengthened security, simplified installation and license management, increased operator and engineering productivity and efficiency, and support for the latest remote desktop services and virtualization technologies from Microsoft.
These and several other products will be demonstrated at the OpsManage'11 Collaboration Expo. This year, the show floor will be laid out according to plant responsibilities, with different sections, for example, for control, IT, maintenance or productivity, each with two or three products highlighted. They each will address modernization to help plants stay agile and up-to-date.
Invensys modernization solutions provide additional security for day-to-day operations, but also help customers stay continuously current through the Foxboro I/A Series DCS migration and upgrade, safety systems improvements, cybersecurity hardening, turbomachinery control upgrades and advanced applications.
In closing, Morse commented that while technology is a critical element, an effective modernization strategy has to start with a multi-year plan that embraces people, processes and technology, with clear justification up front. Invensys continues to invest in its consulting and services capabilities to ensure that customers receive the maximum value from their investments over the long term.