A. When you think of the traditional hardware factory acceptance test, or hardware FAT, it's really all about the I/O. You're not testing the controllers themselves; you're testing all the wires that were pulled, the screws that were turned, and the cabinets that were built over perhaps the past 10 months on a big project. But if all of that custom panel-building and cross-wiring goes away, you can cut much of the FAT as well. With Electronic Marshalling we're seeing an extreme reduction in FAT and commissioning time. One large oil company, for example, is going as far as creating a new "no hardware" FAT methodology that acknowledges this new reality.
Q. Is there more to I/O on Demand than just Electronic Marshalling?
A. While Electronic Marshalling is at its heart, I/O on Demand also describes a broader human-centered design (HCD) effort at Emerson Process Management that includes both WirelessHART and FOUNDATION fieldbus networks. Emerson Smart Wireless networks, which are approaching 2 billion hours of operation across more than 10,000 wireless systems, provide an easy, seamless way to add "wireless I/O" wherever and whenever the need for a new measurement point arises.
FOUNDATION fieldbus technology normally requires third-party power supplies and power conditioners—along with the necessary engineering and wiring and cabinet space. But with DeltaV S-series and I/O on Demand, we've integrated the power circuitry within the FOUNDATION fieldbus H1 card itself. The additional cabinet footprint associated with use of external segment power supplies is eliminated, along with segment power design, installation and troubleshooting tasks. In short, the third-party power conditioners and dedicated power supplies—and all the engineering and testing that went with them—also are a thing of the past.
Another way in which we allow users to further leverage their I/O investment is in the seamless communication of the DeltaV SIS process safety system information to the basic process control system. In this way, information from safety I/O can be used to allow the control system to make more informed decisions.
Q. How else has HCD driven changes in the original I/O on Demand offering to meet other user needs?
A. Key technology extensions over the past few years include the launch of the modern DeltaV SIS with Electronic Marshalling, which delivers all the same time, space and flexibility benefits to the engineering of safety system I/O. And, just as Electronic Marshalling eliminated marshalling cabinets, intrinsically safe CHARMs have eliminated standalone safety barriers—and the need to engineer, install and enclose those components as well.
The beauty of HCD is that it provides a powerful way of helping change the way we do things. It can help us to transcend work processes that as an industry we've long believed were unavoidable. Electronic Marshalling is representative of the ways in which Emerson is striving to remove complexity where we can, eliminate work where possible, and embed knowledge where practical.