The current loop is probably one of the most underestimated data transmission and control method. It's so simple that we tend to ignore it in favor of more complex and sophisticated methods.04/24/2013
Everyone is familiar with the concept of temperature in an everyday sense because our bodies feel and are sensitive to any perceptible change. But for more exacting needs as found in many scientific, industrial, and commercial uses, the temperature of a process must be measured and controlled definitively. Even changes of a fraction of a degree Celsius can be wasteful or even catastrophic in many situations.
For example, some biotech processes require elevated temperatures for reactions to occur and added reagents require exactly the right temperature for proper catalytic action. New alloys of metal and composites, such as those on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, are formed with high temperature methods at exacting degree points to create the necessary properties of strength, endurance, and reliability. Certain medical supplies and pharmaceuticals must be stored at exactly the desired temperature for transport and inventory to protect against deterioration and ensure effectiveness.
These new applications have driven the hunt for more exacting temperature measurement and control solutions that are easy to implement and use by both novice users and experienced engineers alike. This is a challenging task. However, new equipment and standards, such as LXI (LAN Extensions for Instrumentation) offer a methodology to perform these exacting measurements in test and control applications.
Many LXI devices are available on the market today. But, what do you need to know to select the best temperature measurement solution for your test and control application? This paper describes the common pitfalls of precision temperature measurement and what you need to consider before selecting a temperature measurement solution.01/06/2010
Learn about automation using PLCs, SCADA and telemetry fundamentals, process control fundamentals, data acquisition concepts and more.06/13/2008
New technology is being deployed into control rooms every day; technology that brings significant increases in productivity as well as the ability to troubleshoot and do root cause analysis. Download this white paper to learn more about how the application of 3-D technology at SCA's pulp and paper plant in Sweden enables operators and managers alike to visualize data in a way that is relevant to their job function.03/11/2013
Get the highlights here. See the best of the many presentations from the November event. Topics cover everything from finding workers for tomorrow's factories to 21st-century SCADA systems, safety, sustainability and the newest products from Rockwell Automation. Download the "Smart. Safe. Sustainable" Special Report.03/05/2012
To correct business performance of process manufacturers, leading companies are adopting performance supervisory and automation asset management solutions that improve overall plant asset effectiveness.12/28/2008
To correct business performance of process manufacturers, leading companies are adopting performance supervisory and automation asset management solutions that improve overall plant asset effectiveness.01/31/2008
Is your company's electrical energy usage important to you? Whether still feeling the results of the recession or looking forward to competing as the global marketplace moves ahead, businesses are looking for ways to cut costs and increase revenues.
Trends in energy show utility companies raising rates and introducing more tiered rate structures that penalize high-energy consumers. And with all the talk about carbon footprints and cap and trade, energy becomes an important place to look for both savings and revenues.
So perhaps you've been formally tasked with improving energy efficiency for your company. Or maybe you've heard about the "Smart Grid" and are wondering how it will-or won't-impact your business. Perhaps you want to understand your corporate carbon footprint before regulatory pressures increase. Maybe you're a business owner or financial officer who needs to cut fixed costs. All of these and more are good reasons for finding out more about how you use electrical energy.
And you're not alone. A March 2009 article in the New York Times1 noted an increasing trend among large corporations to hire a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). SAP, DuPont, and Flowserve are just a few companies mentioned who already have CSOs. These C-level officers are usually responsible for saving energy, reducing carbon footprints, and developing "greener" products and processes.
While CSOs in large corporations may have a staff of engineers and a chunk of the marketing or production budget to help them find energy solutions, small and medium-sized industrial and commercial businesses usually take on this challenge as an additional job for their already overloaded technical or facilities staff.
This white paper takes a look at electrical power in the United States today, investigates the nature of the Smart Grid, and suggests ways that small and medium-sized companies can-without waiting for future technological development-gather energy data and control electrical energy costs today.02/23/2010
The manufacture of highly energetic organics consists of three distinct and physically separated process steps. The steps are Reaction, Filtration and Crystallization. Due to the reactive nature of the products produced each step is performed in separate and isolated manufacturing areas. In 2000, a project was initiated to automate the complete production of the manufacturing process and to install state-of-the-art automation in all three of the manufacturing steps. The effort was completed in late 2001 and has been in use for almost six months at the time of this paper. One of the most visible signs of success of the new system has been the reduction of off-specification products from 15-20% to less than 2% of the batches produced. This paper addresses some of the lessons learned, trials, tribulations, and issues involved in bringing batch automation to a process that has been traditionally handled manually. Some of the issues revolve around process measurements, control problems, replacing human action with computer actions, and resistance to change. The paper will discuss how S88 concepts were applied in the manufacture of highly energetic organics.06/23/2008
Continuous Improvement separates winners from losers. Your competition is making improvements every day, and you need to keep ahead of them to succeed. Unfortunately, if you are like most process manufacturers, you just don't have enough staffing. If only there was some way to automatically capture improvement opportunities.
New, automated methods are now driving continuous improvements at process manufacturing plants. These methods use process data, with automated analysis and automated diagnostics, that pinpoint improvements to process, equipment, and controls. These plants see significant results for operating cost, energy reduction, and quality improvement.
Continuous improvement requires a lot of data. A modern control system contains mountains of data describing the actual performance of a process operation. In fact, most control systems are automatically logging thousands of pieces of information, every second, and storing it in history.
But it is not being used! The bottleneck to continuous improvement has become the monitoring and analysis of these mountains of data. Most companies simply do not have enough highly skilled engineers to comb through the data, identify the best opportunities for improvement, diagnose, analyze, and prioritize the actions.08/22/2011
Want more profitable plants? Want to beat your competition like a big bass drum? You need a way to capture process improvement opportunities before your competition does. But it's hard to drain the swamp when you're fighting with the alligators of lean staffing, long intervals between shutdowns, and you're running too fast to think. What if there were a way to automate the process of identifying continuous process improvements that you CAN make? Download this white paper and see how using automated methods can drive continuous improvements at process manufacturing plants.09/29/2011
As batch processes are automated, it is common to leave certain less essential field devices without automatic actuators. Thus, the initial control design must accommodate both automated and manual activities. Later, the manual field devices may be automated, either one-at-a-time or in related groups as equipment modules. These field changes, often occurring over a period of years, each require rework of the batch control logic, which can easily exceed the cost of the actuator. In response to this undesirable situation, a technique has been developed which permits the batch design to automatically modify itself, or evolve, to accommodate changes in field automation. This approach yields significant benefits: Initial design treats all field devices as if they are automated, Recipe includes logic for both automatic and manual devices, Batch Journal logs manual device actions, Field devices may be automated over any time period, Virtually zero modification time for batch logic, No redesign, patches, or work-around, No dead code or wasted engineering. This paper describes the problem, illustrates a practical solution, and explores the resulting benefits.08/26/2008
Automated Batch Scheduling and MES Integration Using a Hierarchical Based, Batch Control Software Architecture
After years of advancement in the batch control industry--particularly within the area of standardization using S-88 and S-95--todays automated batch control systems offer end users many features which have enabled improvements in product quality, reduced cycle time, and overall return on investment. However, the area of automated batch scheduling and MES integration has to date gone largely untapped on a relative basis when comparing features incorporated into the actual control system. In general, the problem of batch scheduling and MES integration has been left to customized, one-off solutions developed on a site-by-site basis (due to both plant variability and lack of support in the underlying control system). This paper will address recently developed technologies that begin to incorporate the batch scheduling and integration layers into the control system itself, while still maintaining the flexibility required for customization of the already present hierarchical architecture. Along with a description of the solution, real world case studies will be discussed, including both results and lessons learned.06/23/2008
For many process plants, there are three distinct tasks with respect to their control, instrumentation and information systems -- otherwise known as the automation system. The first task category is operations. and maintenance. The plant must be kept up and running with minimal downtime, with maintenance, performed as needed.
The second task includes continuous improvements. The existing automation system must be made to increase throughput, reduce downtime, cut energy costs, improve quality and make other enhancements to the production processes. These improvements are necessary to stay competitive in worldwide markets, and firms that neglect this task will fall hopelessly behind.
Third, capital projects must be planned and executed for a variety of reasons, from adding capacity to regulatory compliance to changing the range of products produced. In many process plants, operations and maintenance tasks can consume all the available automation professional man-hours from on-site staff, leaving little or no time for continuous improvements and capital projects. In the worst cases, many plants find it difficult to recruit and maintain even the minimal staffing required for operations and maintenance.
There are two possible approaches to address these staffing issues. The first is to add more permanent staff at the plant level, and the second is to seek assistance from an outside service provider such as a systems integrator -- also known as staff augmentation or outsourcing. Adding permanent staff can be problematic at many process plants for a number of reasons as explained below.
As detailed in a recent Control magazine cover story, demand for experienced automation personnel relative to supply is at an all-time high by many indicators. A quote from the article illustrates the point.
"The demand for process automation professionals is high, and the talent pool is small and shrinking," said Alan Carty, president of recruiting firm Automationtechies in Minneapolis. "Systems integrators, end users and process control product manufacturers are all seeking these people. I've been recruiting for 12 years, and I feel that current demand relative to supply is at an all-time peak."
Exacerbating the situation, many process plant managers have trouble recruiting workers to their. specific locales, which are almost always far from the urban areas favored by many automation, professionals, particularly recent graduates.
Another significant issue primarily affects staffing for plant automation operations and maintenance positions, and that's the requirement for 24/7/365 support. When faced with the choice between working regular hours versus being on-call around the clock -- including weekends and holidays - many automation professionals, opt for the former.
Even if these problems are overcome with sufficient staffing for operations and maintenance, providing sufficient personnel for continuous improvement and capital projects remains an issue.
This task in particular often requires specialized skills that existing plant operations and maintenance staff may not possess. Furthermore, many continuous improvement projects and larger capital projects often require relatively high staffing levels for implementation, then much lower staffing levels for ongoing operations and maintenance.10/30/2012
Joe Weiss, Control's Unfettered blogger, was asked by CSIS to prepare a white paper on cybersecurity for Industrial Control Systems. CSIS is the Center for Stategic and International Studies, which was tasked in a bipartisan manner to form a blue ribbon committee to prepare cybersecurity recommendations for the next administration. This white paper is posted by permission of CSIS and Joe Weiss.
Control and Joe Weiss are posting this white paper as a pro bono public service. The registration is solely to keep track for security purposes of who downloads the white paper and will not be used for commercial purposes.08/27/2008
Asset Managements: Best Practices for Developing Device Tasks to Operate with High-Level Batch Recipe Management
As manufacturers with batch operations strive to improve shareholder value through increased profitability, they are increasing investments in factory automation to reduce costs and increase operational flexibility. Equipment suppliers have responded with more capable devices, controls and software to meet these needs.05/23/2013
Some 66% of the process control systems now in use globally were installed before publication of today's commonly used safety standards, IEC 61508 and IEC 61511/ISA 84. Here's how to tell if you safety systems are up to snuff.12/13/2012
This white paper shows you how to tell if you can benefit from using thermistors.06/17/2008
Ethernet for industrial communications is growing rapidly in factory automation, process control and SCADA systems. The ODVA EtherNet/IP network standard is gaining popularity as a preferred industrial protocol. Plant engineers are recognizing the significant advantages that Ethernet-enabled devices provide such as ease of connectivity, high performance and cost savings. While EtherNet/IP has many advantages, cable installation is often expensive, and communications to remote sites or moving platforms may not be reliable or cost-effective.
Wireless Ethernet technologies have emerged that can now reliably reduce network costs while improving plant production. However, applying these technologies is not a simple matter as industrial Ethernet systems vary greatly in terms of bandwidth requirements, response times and data transmission characteristics. This paper will explore applying wireless technologies to EtherNet/IP based networks for industrial automation systems.09/03/2009