So What Difference Was There Between Meetings?

Jan. 17, 2011
Nick Denbow Compares All Three 2010 Conferences from Invensys, Rockwell and Honeywell

What was the difference between these three user events, apart from the logo behind the speakers? All three companies: Honeywell, Rockwell and Invensys, have done a lot better in 2010 business than they had anticipated. Whether this is just more of the same, or whether they have moved significantly into new business segments, is more difficult to assess. All of them have moved into new geographic areas to find the active sources of business, and for their European sales operations this means North Africa, Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia. Possibly the business environment in Europe is slightly better than that in the United States―while the Rockwell Automation Fair attendance was not affected, Honeywell had more attendees in Barcelona than in Arizona, but maybe the latter was down because it was much earlier in the year and rather hot!

None of these three places as much emphasis on field instrumentation as Emerson, Yokogawa or ABB for example, so none of them have a significant interest in what protocol or what type of wireless system their sensors might use. The wireless system is just another conduit for information. So the big argument between WirelessHART and ISA100 just does not exist for them. They will use what is needed.

However, there is another aspect that might have a significant impact: The ability to use standard Ethernet right from the business system down to the intelligent devices on the plant floor is potentially a business winner and is an accelerating trend. Rockwell made this the major plank of its presentation and is positioning itself with Cisco as the prime provider of such an approach. Invensys and Rockwell were presenting the same approach to provide customer efficiency improvements, empowering the lower levels of production by providing direct business interfacing.

In terms of major product launches and promotions, Rockwell is presenting itself as a mainline DCS provider, with the PlantPAx v2.0, and wants to be taken seriously in continuous process control markets, such as oil and gas. Its existing business in this industry might make it the most significant sector for Rockwell, but this probably arises primarily from the supply of safety systems, pump and compressor control.

Invensys had the nanodac recorder/controller and the Foxboro PAC low level DCS, with also new simulator offerings for training. Honeywell claimed 84 new product innovations: The main ones noted were the ISA100 and other wireless sensors and the Enraf tank level gauges.

But the answer was that there was not a really significant product release anywhere: The big guys have been maybe saving themselves and not investing in any major launches because of the last year's downturn. So all the launches we have seen have been updates, except perhaps for the nanodac―unless anyone wants to amend this impression!