OpsManage / Systems Integration / Optimization / Asset Management

Foxboro Evo System Aims to 'Future-Proof' Automation

New System Is Latest Iteration of Invensys' Continuously Current Offering

By Jim Montague

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When you know where you come from, it's easier to get where you want to go. This awareness of history as providing the building blocks for future innovation was never more true than it is for Invensys and its new Foxboro Evo process automation system.

"Our customers are under tremendous pressure to meet or exceed their goals of making their operations more profitable while still maintaining safety, but they're also facing information overloads that often don't help operations, can slow decision making, or even cause erroneous decisions that can hurt operations if that data is taken out of context," said Michael Caliel, president of software and industrial automation for Invensys. "What users need now is a new process automation system that can get control engineers and operators out in front of their applications, and give them the insight and integrity they need to make the best possible decisions. That's why were so excited to be releasing the Foxboro Evo system today."

The Foxboro Evo process automation system consists of advanced roles-based tools, an extra dose of processing power and integration with the world-leading Triconex safety system. It is intended to improve operational insight and integrity, assure business continuity and profitability, and future-proof existing automation investments.

"The three most important ways a process automation vendor can help its customers secure their future is to protect the operational integrity of their plants, enhance the operational insight of their people, and enable them to adapt easily and affordably to change," explained Gary Freburger, president of Invensys' systems business. "Our new Foxboro Evo system does that with unrivaled elegance. With more powerful processing capacity and other new, advanced applications, this system allows our customers to uncover new and hidden value from within their operations. This is another automation breakthrough from a company with a 100-year history of delivering innovative technology advancements. We're excited about what this means for the industry and for our customers, and we look forward to continuing to help them safely achieve their short- and long-term business and operations goals.

"Foxboro Evo is more than just a name. It's going to bring about a new age of enlightenment in process control and automation. We especially want to thank our users because they've helped us understand the barriers they face, and to design a new and more powerful process control system to eliminate those barriers to their success. But, we're not going to leave any existing customers, and we're going to continue to support them, and make sure they always have a path to the future."

For instance, Michael McKenzie, DCS specialist at BP's Bulwer oil refinery in Brisbane, Australia, reported that his facility has been beta testing the Foxboro Evo system capabilities. "We needed to upgrade the vast majority of our DCSs, but like most sites, we didn't have the luxury of a site-wide shutdown to make a full change possible," said McKenzie. "We were facing a substantial obsolescence issue, which we'd ranked as a significant risk to ongoing operations, so we needed a solution that would allow us to upgrade components as we needed them—without sacrificing functionality or usability for operators. The new Foxboro Evo system allows a much easier upgrade of all components, and will ensure we can keep our system well away from obsolescence, so we're not required to perform any added, large-scale upgrades."

McKenzie added that BP Bulwer processes about 96,000 bpd of crude oil, which it refines into diesel, jet fuel gasoline and other products. The facility operates two crude units, one fluidized catalytic cracker (FCC), one hydrogen catalytic cracker, one reformer, one sulfur-processing unit and other applications systems, which rely on about 60,000 I/O points and presently run 20 of Invensys' CP270 controllers, 12 CP60 controllers and six CP40 controllers. Many of these will be able to be replaced by just four of Invensys' soon-to-be-released CP280 controllers.

"We're going to add four CP280s, including one each to control our three gas turbines that use natural gas to heat steam and generate electricity, and one to control the motors, boilers, air systems and other equipment in our utilities," added McKenzie. "Where our CP40s and CP60s each handle 500-600 function blocks and a CP270 can handle 2,000 function blocks, a CP280 can handle 4,000 function blocks. This means one CP280 can cover our whole FCC unit. Also, while one CP270 can replace three CP60s or CP40s, CP280 has twice this capability, and so it can replace six CP60s or CP40s."

Mike Chmilewski, vice president in charge of Invensys DCS and safety solutions, explained that the Foxboro Evo system will aid users in several primary job categories or "personas," including operators, maintenance, engineers, managers and security. "Operators aren't just operators. They're the eyes and ears of their companies, and so they don't just do work, but must be able to make the right operational decisions for their businesses," said Chmilewski. "This means their workstations must become decision-support stations with HMIs improved by human-factors engineering and graphics improved by situational and procedural awareness to help reduce fatigue and potential errors. These interfaces must also be more synchronized in their response to issues, alert and alarms, and manage workflows to help operators make the right decisions at the right time. This is where the Foxboro Evo system can deliver the insight to run plants better and ensure their integrity.

"Best of all, the Foxboro Evo process automation system connects the dots and takes into account all the previous work and capabilities we've done with the I/A Series system. It gives our users a new path forward, but doesn't abandon anyone, and brings everyone along with us when they're ready--without requiring outages and downtime."  

Likewise, because users can upgrade at their own pace, the Foxboro Evo system is intended to deliver the lowest total cost of automation and highest return on assets. Also, its new applications improve the ability of plant personnel to contribute to the success of their businesses by streamlining and contextualizing the information they need to make the right business decisions at the right time.
"As the pace of global business accelerates, automation technology becomes increasingly important in helping manufacturers focus on finding more value within their operations and automation assets," added Chris Lyden, Invensys' senior vice president. "If users in the control room and in the field can better interpret the growing volume and complexity of the information they receive within the proper context of procedures and operational risk, then they'll make more valuable contributions to the business. The Foxboro Evo system is loaded with new features that will help them do that, and it's structured to evolve with them as they and their companies change and grow."

For example, the Foxboro Evo system includes a new high-speed controller, field-device-management tools, maintenance response center, enterprise historian, 1-n redundancy and cyber security hardening. And, because the company's broad portfolio of roles-based engineering tools and productivity applications are integrated into it, the Foxboro Evo system promises superior visibility into historical, real-time and predictive operating information to help drive production efficiency. As a result, the Foxboro Evo system is intended to aid users working in a broad range of functional disciplines:

  • Safety and security personnel will benefit from an innovative coupling of control and safety, which enables sharing of operational information, while keeping safety system functionally isolated, and benefiting from state-of-the-art cyber security capabilities.
  • Engineers will be able to reduce workloads, protect schedule integrity and reduce risk via more intuitive design and troubleshooting features, virtualization and other flexible technology.
  • Operators will gain a more complete, real-time view of plant activity via an updated high-performance, mobile accessible HMI.
  • Maintenance technicians will enjoy lower meantime between repairs via real-time device alerts and analytics, alarm triage, performance monitoring and other benefits.

Existing I/A Series system users can migrate to the Foxboro Evo system with little or no downtime, depending on which version they're running. Users of competing process automation systems, whose wiring terminations are still functional, can migrate to the Foxboro Evo system without ripping and replacing infrastructure, which reduces costs and downtime—just as they were able to do with the I/A Series system.

Besides its new workstations, controllers and software, Foxboro Evo will include many other useful features, according to Grant Le Sueur, Invensys' product director for control and safety. By the end of the year, Invensys is committed to releasing its new CP280 control processor, dynamic SAMA capabilities, a new redundant historian with 500,000 tags and FoxView support, and integration with Triconex software. Within six months, the Foxboro Evo system will also have situation awareness graphics, integrated safety, maintenance response center, high-density I/O, and a historian with 2 million tags. And, within one year, it will have a new control network interface and new gateway processor.

"The Foxboro Evo system will give users the information they need in the right context," explained Le Sueur. "For system engineers, this means that Foxboro Evo will be able to intuitively display how to start that problematic pump at 2 a.m. Users can access Foxboro Evo data from wherever they might be, and bring the problems to the experts."

For more information about Foxboro Evo, visit www.foxboro.com/foxboroevo.

View the following video demonstrations of it in action.