I/O Systems / Industrial Ethernet / Safety Instrumented Systems

Triconex forges process safety’s future

New hardware, software and platform enhancements improve safety performance while boosting engineering productivity.

By Jim Montague, executive editor


One of the best ways to build a useful, successful future is on the foundation of a useful, successful past. And Schneider Electric's Triconex safety business, together with its legendary Tricon products, is one of industry’s best examples of this phenomenon at work. All this comes as no surprise to Triconex's users, integrators and developers who convened their 26th annual Triconex Users Group (TUG) meeting at this week’s Schneider Electric CONNECT 2016 conference in New Orleans.

Chris Stogner, brand director of Triconex Safety, began the session by reiterating the organization’s commitment to extending the safety instrumented system (SIS) lifecycle and to continuing to enhance the Tricon platform. More recently, Stogner said, Schneider Electric has made this mission part of the company’s Safety for Life program, which combines its safety products and services with a rededication to trust, value and commitment.

"Safety for Life is a program to bring process automation safety offerings together to maximize safety and minimize security risks,” said Stogner.

Tricon Version 11

Chief among Triconex's recent advances are the release of Tricon Version 11, which consists of enhancements to its platform, hardware and software. These include the new Tricon MP3009 main processor, 8210E high-speed chassis and unified communications module. The company also has increased peer-to-peer networking capabilities to 254 nodes; reduced “download-all” requirements; achieved ISASecure compliance; enabled project file download and upload from controllers; as well as enabled the online upgrade of main processors.

"When using the MP3009 together with the 8210E enables 2.5 times faster cycle times, while TÜV has issued the world's first combined Safety and Security certificate,” reported Stogner. “This means we have IEC 62443-compliant security embedded in our products, and this security has been proven resilient against tested attacks. These and our other enhancements such as online upgrades help expand SIS in place without plant interruption, and future-proof Triconex investments for users."

TriStation, Diagnostic Monitor, Report Generator

The next set of advances discussed by Stogner are to the company’s TriStation and Enhanced Diagnostic Monitor, which are intended to fuel engineering and maintenance productivity. New features include support for the new Tricon CX platform; support for new I/O modules; automatic monitoring of loop performance and characteristics; new tabular layouts that simplify configuration and data management; and new search and filter capabilities.

"The latest version of TriStation has Excel-like functions that enhance ease of use and productivity," said Stogner. "Overall, these improvements maximize engineering and maintenance efficiency, and further future-proof Tricon."

To simplify peer-to-peer tag management, Triconex Report Generator delivers function block usage, configuration reports and tag name cross-reference reports, and is supported by TS1131 V4.13 onward. Its benefits include more efficient management of peer-to-peer safety networks as well as simplified documentation, reporting and analysis of SIS logic and configurations for management of change (MOC).

Safety View 1.1

Because it's a TÜV-certified alarm and bypass human machine interface (HMI), Safety View 1.1 software allows users to manage priority alarms with confidence, Stogner continued. Its capabilities include a new, flexible HMI designer for constructing safety-related HMI elements; new HMI functions for alarm process values, bypass area, multi-view faceplates; global acknowledge and emergency shutdown functions; status for health and alarm block for link health; and TSAA protocol configuration.

"Safety View 1.1 is more reliable, more space efficient than annunciator panels, and provides increased situational awareness to prevent alarms from going unnoticed or left in bypass inadvertently," explained Stogner. "All of this maximizes operators' awareness, and enables effective and efficient bypass management."

SIF Manager

To ensure that the safety instrumented functions (SIF) that users rely on will operate when needed, SIF Manager software validates SIF performance in real time. Besides SIF performance validation, its features include detailed trip reports, sequence-of-event and email alerts; proof-test tracking and history; bypass tracking and email alerts; and management of proof-test credits. These functions reduce manual activities and data handling, as well as human errors.

Safety Validator

To make logic testing easier, more efficient and effective, Safety Validator software can perform logic testing as the press of a button. It can create tests in a structured environment; can execute tests against a Tricon controller or TriStation emulator; includes auto-run, single-step and select test cases; displays automated test results; has an option for entering manual tests and showing pass/fail results; and can repeat and rerun tests.

"Safety Validator is a world's first solution because, instead of providing results in a Word document that must be re-entered, users can just hit 'play' and have it done for them," said Stogner. "This minimizes the time, cost and effort of testing safety application logic, and increases test quality, while reducing human errors."

Stogner added that Triconex is also working with partner ae Solutions to integrate functions from its ae Shield software. This effort will allow the software to pull in more data automatically, auto-generate SIS content, perform function tests, and auto-update documents.

On the roadmap

“Our customers’ values drive the Triconex roadmap,” Stogner added, before providing a glimpse further into the future of the Triconex technology roadmap. “Some feedback is consistent, such as the need for greater safety from random threats, increased availability, and security from non-random threats. Most users are also facing fewer resources and staff for engineering and maintaining SIS operations, while they must also reduce total cost of ownership, and handle faster SIS start-up schedules."

Some of Triconex's other ongoing and planned launches in 2016 and early 2017 include:

    • Tricon CX main chassis 8120X, which is designed for panel mounting or 19-in mounting, so no special racks, swing frames or rear access are required. It includes three main processor slots, four communication slots, copper and SFP (small form pluggable) connections with no remote I/O chassis required.
    • Tricon CX I/O chassis 8131X, is also designed for panel mounting or 19-in mounting and includes supervised digital input with 1-ms sequence of events resolution; supervised digital output; analog input with 5-ms update; and analog input with HART. Six configurable I/O slots, as well as various field-wiring options provide for maximum flexibility.
    • Fault-Tolerant I/O Bus will support both Tricon and Tricon CX systems, allowing up to 15 I/O chassis on an RS-485 bus, and will be completely interoperable with existing Tricon systems.
    • Fault-Tolerant Ethernet I/O Bus also will connect to both Tricon and Tricon CX systems and support up to 31 I/O chassis on Ethernet I/O bus as well as simultaneous support of serial I/O bus.
    • Tricon Version 11.4, the second release of Tricon CX, will support Ethernet I/O Bus with 1-GB communication speed; analog output with embedded HART; up to 31 I/O expansion chassis and 186 I/O modules; 5,920 I/O per controller set; and Universal Safety I/O.