I/A Series Evolution Eliminates Marshalling

Universal Input/Output Modules Are Software Configurable, So Any Point Can Be Analog, Discrete or HART


By Aaron Hand

Invensys Operations Management's Foxboro distributed control systems (DCSs) have a long history in automation, offering a platform that has been unique in the industry for dozens of years, according to Rick Morse, vice president of control and safety solutions at Invensys Operations Management. Keeping the Foxboro I/A Series continuously current, Invensys today introduced the next major evolution of its DCS.

The core component of the company's InFusion Enterprise Control System, the I/A Series includes key innovations, including Intelligent Marshalling, which significantly improves the approach to system implementation and design, and Foxboro Control Software 3.0, which allows users to integrate their plant systems, databases and software applications. The improvements address major phases of system modernization and allow customers to upgrade at their own pace, Morse says. "Together they link business processes with production processes, enabling real-time business optimization and creating a fully empowered workforce."

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.

According to Thad Frost, director of fieldbus product management at Invensys, one client said that he has been able to double the I/O density of his cabinet. Also, because I/O channels are completely software-configurable, he can configure a cabinet in China from an office in Kansas.

Fewer cabinets, racks or instrument enclosures can drive down the project cost by as much as $1,000 per I/O, notes Steve Garbrecht, Invensys vice president of product, services and solutions marketing. The company estimates millions of dollars of cost savings per project. "Intelligent Marshalling marries together the thought process of software with hardware," he says. "You don't even have to open up the cabinet. Every I/O point is software-configurable. It dramatically reduces the space required."

Meanwhile, Foxboro Control Software 3.0 embeds the company's ArchestrA System Platform and Wonderware InTouch HMI within the Foxboro I/A Series system, applying common object technology from process control up to the business system level and out to any third-party system. This allows users to integrate all of their plant devices, systems, databases and software applications.

The new Foxboro Control Software Simulation 3.0 offering simulates Foxboro Control Software 3.0 applications for rapid, high-quality systems checkout without the need for control hardware. Simulation capabilities include dynamic control of time, alarms and trends using the same configuration files that are used in a live I/A Series DCS. The software also provides an instant interface to the company's SimSci-Esscor DYNSIM, Foxboro FSIM and Triconex TRISIM dynamic simulation engines, which are used to simulate plant operations, behavior and responses in conjunction with the DCS or simulated DCS.

"Process manufacturing is facing what could be characterized as a perfect storm. The loss of experience as a result of the shifting demographics, the need to operate proactively rather than reactively, the ability to empower knowledge workers with actionable context and more are all new challenges that require changes in our processes and tools," says Dave Woll, vice president, consulting services, ARC Advisory Group. "With the Foxboro Control Software 3.0 release, Invensys provides component-object technology throughout the Foxboro I/A Series system up to the operations management level. Its open-technology platform transcends disparate systems, providing the unique ability to collaboratively apply best-of-breed solutions from Invensys or third parties. This level of enterprise-wide integration makes it significantly easier to access, manage and contextualize information for a wide variety of operations users, allowing them to drive and deliver greater production value in real time."

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