Freeing the operator-- the Holy Grail

DeltaV Operate with videoThe holy grail for plant operators has always been the freedom to walk the plant, AND operate the plant with all the necessary tools at their fingertips, including control, asset management and the ability to see the big picture-- like the old fashioned "panel wall" some of us older folk grew up with.

We're getting closer to that. Here's a screen-shot of the new feature in Emerson's DeltaV Operate-- note the video screen where streaming video from anywhere in the plant can be displayed.

Now, imagine this running on a Panasonic U1 handheld computer like this:[img_assist|nid=3367|title=Panasonic U1 Handheld|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=390|height=320]

Emerson's product managers have told me that they have experimented with running the full DeltaV system, plus Emerson's AMS Asset Management software on the U1, and that it does it fine-- although they don't recommend it because of the screen size.

But think of this. You can get heads-up display glasses for less than $1000 that project a 50-inch or 60-inch screen display. You can get "Theremin-like" virtual keyboards for under $1000. You could have the entire control room experience, wherever you are.

Combine this with the virtual reality simulation software that Invensys and others have been working with, and picture this. The operator is walking through the plant. He passes a motor. It sounds odd to him. He flips down his VR glasses, invokes his asset manager through the DCS software, does a "virtual point" to the motor and the motor's metadata (service history, temperature, vibration, etc.) pops up in his VR display. The operator notices that the sound and the vibration have been slowly changing in a way that indicates a coming failure. He initiates a work order to have the motor replaced or repaired, flips up his VR glasses and continues his rounds.

While no single vendor can supply this technology now, several are very close to it, including Invensys, Rockwell Automation, Siemens, ABB, Yokogawa, Honeywell and of course, Emerson.

Here's the press release that sparked this analysis:


Integration of live video display and process values on a single screen allows operators a complete view of the process area

AUSTIN, TEXAS (February 17, 2010) – Emerson Process Management has further
developed Smart Wireless solutions by integrating video streams from
Industrial Video & Control Co.’s (IVC) Relay Server with the DeltaV™
digital automation system. For process manufacturers, the benefits of
having a live video feed embedded within the DeltaV Operate display are
many and include:

- Safety: Allows operators to remotely monitor hazardous areas, and enables
an additional “all-clear” visual before the execution of a process
start-up, shut-down, or turn-around

- Security: Additional eyes on the process area, remote plant areas, or
site perimeter

- Productivity: Live visual of the process being controlled alongside the
process measurements

- Emissions monitoring: With video monitoring for plant emissions, exact
start and stop times for excursions can be identified so reporting to
regulatory agencies is more accurate

Video surveillance is becoming an indispensible part of process plant
safety, security and operations. Using wireless technology,
mission-critical video feeds can now be delivered to the control room,
office buildings and other areas in the plant in a highly flexible way that
is not possible with a wired solution. Live video feeds can augment the
operator’s control of volatile processes.

IVC offers a range of industrial video solutions that include
enterprise-class camera management software and rugged IP camera hardware.
For hazardous areas, IVC has developed ATEX Zones 1 and 2, Class 1 Division
1 and 2 Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ), fixed, and high megapixel cameras. IVC’s
software provides powerful and flexible features for viewing and
controlling cameras from multiple locations, as well as sophisticated
storage and automatic alarm functions.

The operator will now be able to view multiple video feeds within the
context of the Operate screen, and with onscreen buttons switch cameras or
manipulate the PTZ camera’s view. IVC’s View Station software can also be
used to provide operators many additional features including video system
automation, alarm management, and live and stored video viewing and

Emerson can provide services to install, qualify, and support these
wireless offerings as well as integrate wireless products from other
wireless partners, providing process manufacturers with a single point of
contact for their wireless needs.

Smart Wireless solutions for plant-wide operations include a variety of

•            Mobile worker
•            Field data backhaul of remote WirelessHART™ field instruments
•            Safety mustering
•            Location tracking for personnel
•            Control network bridging
•            Remote video monitoring

Smart Wireless is an extension of PlantWeb® digital architecture that
offers solutions for field instrumentation and plant operations. Emerson’s
Smart Wireless products include pressure, temperature, level, vibration,
and pH field devices; wireless enabling devices; and native wireless
interfaces to the DeltaV and Ovation® automation systems, AMS™ Suite
software, Syncade suite smart operations management, and SmartStart®