Live from the Foxboro User Group!

Today, Jim Montague, Mark Rosenzweig from Chemical Processing, and I are attending the Foxboro User Group. This is an intimate gathering, not the huge Invensys all-companies meeting of previous years. This is only Foxboro, and as User Group Steering Committee member, Larry Wells of Georgia-Pacific (and a member of Control's Editorial Advisory Board) said, "this is a much more technical conference. We're in Foxboro and it is just us and the Foxboro technical staff, and not as much marketing." After a welcome by User Group Chair Terry Deo, of Infineum USA, who noted that "I'm the guy on the dollar bill," we had a welcome from Betty Naylor-McDevitt, Foxboro Marketing Manager, and a blazing fast peek at the Foxboro IA roadmap by Thad Lewis Frost, IA Marketing Manager who noted, "I'm the guy who is responsible for commitments." Frost went over the I/A roadmap, concentrating on short term deliverables, and pointing the way to long term direction. He looked backward to 2004, with the introduction of V8.0-- this was greenfield, and since then, they've been working on making 8.0 fit into the continuously current framework. V8.1 introduced the ATS, address translation station, which connected the original "nodebus" network to the new MESH network. ATS also can replace the use of corporate LAN modules for connections between systems, and integrates old I/A to the new MESH system. V8.1, March 06, migrates the 100 series I/O to 200 series, as well as preserving customers' investment in 100 series migration cards, so existing migrations of Honeywell, Fisher, Bailey, and Spectrum systems can be carried forward without change. V8.2 provided new software and permitted boot hosting of nodebus from the MESH with the new workstations. This eliminates the need to continue using hosting with the old NT and Sun workstations on nodebus. Then Frost went through the basics of InFusion, very very fast, because, as he noted, Grant Leseueur and Peter Martin would cover it later. Finally, Frost went over stuff that is available now. V8.3 has the new ZCP270 which talks now to both 100 and 200 sereies controllers and adds more I/O. The FPC270 expansion now allows up to 128 DIN mounted intelligent I/O modules (FBMs). Coming attractions, according to Frost: A new SOE recorder with capability of recording events from digital I/O with 1 ms resolution, GPS, and 1 ms resolution plantwide, that runs in the XP environment and interfaces with all 200 series digital I/O. Solaris on the MESH. Invensys Foxboro is committed to provide support for Solaris workstations for the foreseeable future, including boot hosting from Solaris X. A new gateway system, including especially an AB Ethernet/IP driver that beta tester, Tom Lemieux at Alabama River Pulp says "is the best driver/gateway I've seen in the last 20 years." New Transient Data Recorder and Analyzer system...like the SOE recorder, but will also handle analog information. Controller enhancements, including self-hosting for FCP and ZCP 270s, function block enhancements, DCI block support, FDT block support,  and enhanced Profibus support. InFusion 1.1-- will play better with the installed base. Windows rack server. Version 8.4.1, sometime in 2008, will feature both controllers working with both kinds of I/O. Finally, Frost talked about the 100 series migration program. After 20 years, Foxboro is shutting down new sales, calling the 100 series "Mature" and, as they announced last year, there will be 9 years of future support. Looking out in the distance, Frost mentioned support for Windows Vista, moving toward a more services/solutions mindset, control in the field (control on the wire) with Foundation fieldbus, and, devoutly to be wished, superior integration with Triconex systems and I/A.

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