Control News from Europe March 2008

March 26, 2008
Read Andrew Bond’s Industrial Automation Insider, a monthly newsletter covering the important industrial automation news and issues as seen from the U.K.

Yokogawa launches new generation ‘multiplant’ DCS

As intimated in the January INSIDER, Yokogawa has once again used ARC’s annual forum in Orlando for a major announcement. Making his first appearance at the event since taking over from Isao Uchida as president and COO, Shuzo Kaihori announced nothing less than the replacement of Yokogawa’s flagship Centum CS3000 DCS. However, in keeping with the company’s policy ever since it introduced what it claims was the world’s first DCS back in 1975, CentumVP—for “Vigilant Plant”—will   maintain compatibility not just with its immediate predecessor, but with every Yokogawa DCS right back to that original introduction.

Although the announcement was made in Orlando on February 4, details were hard to come by in Europe ahead of the official European presentation in Amsterdam, scheduled for the Thursday of the same week, and even normally effusive and prolific bloggers, such as Walt Boyes and Gary Mintchell, seem to have been atypically reticent. Nevertheless, INSIDER has to acknowledge a debt to Boyes’ ‘Sound Off’ blog in particular for what details we have been able to glean thus far.

Single real-time database

Satoru Kurosu, who has succeeded Kaihori San as senior vice president for industrial automation, is said to have described the new system as targeting the gaps being created by the impending retirement of the “boomer” generation of engineers and operators and breaking down the barriers both within plants and between the plant and the enterprise. To that end, one of the key features of CentumVP, which is described as a ‘multiplant’ DCS, will be a single real-time database in place of the multiple real-time databases which typify today’s facilities.

Whether that single database and its associated integration tools will actually feature in the first release of CentumVP is less clear. The Orlando announcement appears to confirm rumors that had been circulating earlier that the new system would be released in stages, and indeed that it was what one competitor described as an “accelerated announcement,” thus leaving Yokogawa open to the accusation that this is more a rebranding exercise than a new system. Hence while CentumVP—and not, as some had predicted, CS4 or CS4000—will at least initially retain the I/O, controllers and recently IEC accepted Vnet/IP control network (see below) of Centum CS3000 R3, what is unquestionably new—and some would say long overdue—is a new HMI which, as well as running on Windows XP, is among the first, if not, actually the first from a major DCS vendor to run on Vista.Boyes quotes Kurosu San as saying that the new HMI’s ergonomic design, intuitive navigation and consolidated alarm management almost double the operator’s speed of decision making and hence reduce by half the time necessary for corrective action.

When will these wonders be available for new users or for migration of existing CS 3000 installations? The word is the first quarter of 2008, although whether that means release to beta test sites, acceptance of orders or actual shipments isn’t at this stage clear, at least in Europe, but then we’re not supposed to know about it at all yet. Perhaps all will become clear after our day trip to Amsterdam later this week!

  • Yokogawa’s recently developed EtherNet/IP compatible communication interface for industrial recorders and data acquisition equipment has become the first of its type to pass the ODVA conformance test. It eliminates the need for dedicated software to connect data acquisition equipment with other devices such as PLCs and temperature controllers and will be installed as standard on Yokogawa recorders and data acquisition equipment during fiscal 2008. EtherNet/IP is widely used in North America and elsewhere and is increasingly being adopted by manufacturers in Japan.

Meanwhile the Vnet/IP control network protocol used in Yokogawa’s flagship Centum CS 3000 R3 DCS has been accepted as a part of the IEC 61784-2 standard. Vnet/IP is based on 1 Gbit/s high-speed Ethernet and is claimed to combine the openness of Ethernet with the reliability and real-time capability required for process control. It was accepted by IEC as a publicly available specification (PAS) in April 2005. The protocol allows general purpose TCP/IP communications with PCs, subsystems and HMIs to take place on the same network as UDP/IP communications between HMIs and field control stations. Networks can be made dual-redundant, but can also be configured with general-purpose network equipment such as layer 2 or layer 3 switches. “The fact that Vnet/IP has been accepted by the IEC means that Vnet/IP will enter wide use as a standard network protocol and be used by other manufacturers in combination with their own products,” said Masatoshi Nakahara, vice president of Yokogawa’s Industrial Automation business headquarters.

Commonality is key to Ethernet growth

Cisco’s vision of an all Ethernet world, as expounded to INSIDER last November by Stuart Robinson, head of manufacturing and energy verticals for Europe, receives powerful support in ARC’s newly published “Ethernet-based Device Networks Worldwide Outlook.” Evidence of industrial Ethernet’s “continued march downward in the enterprise architecture” can be found in its migration into the device or I/O level of the automation network hierarchy, resulting in a market totalling over a million nodes in 2007 and growing at more than 27.5% compound to pass three million by 2012.

Motion control

Already firmly established at the control level, Ethernet has become a lead option in even the most demanding motion control applications, thanks to the emergence of automation-applicable standards, intelligent implementation strategies and overall improvements in product reliability. More important than any of these to current and future growth, however, is Ethernet’s commonality and not, as received wisdom has traditionally had it, its openness; witness its increasing use even in embedded applications where proprietary protocols have traditionally dominated. In the motion control segment, for instance, industrial Ethernet is rapidly being adopted in even single-vendor applications that don’t require the ability to plug-and-play with components from different suppliers.

“Standardization of layers 1 and 2 of the Ethernet stack in IEEE 802.3 makes Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) physical layer products widely available and familiar to potential OEMs and end users but, as always seems to be the case in the industrial automation segment, each major supplier wants to support its own higher-level protocols,” said ARC vice president and the report’s principal author, Chantal Polsonetti. “For the customer, this translates to common physical layer components throughout the enterprise, but multiple competing protocols at the automation layer.”

Even when it is confined to the lower layers, manufacturers are finding the idea of a single network technology which enables vertical integration throughout the enterprise over the same network an increasingly compelling value proposition. The promise is one of ease-of-network integration and configuration/reconfiguration, as well potentially of less expensive, flatter architectures and enterprise-wide data exchange for everything from process optimization to asset management. Moreover, a common skill base for configuration, installation, maintenance and troubleshooting reduces the need for specialized personnel and makes both training and support more readily accessible. Couple these advantages with worldwide availability and support by both IT and automation vendors, and its attractiveness compared with dedicated industrial networks becomes increasingly difficult to deny.

MTL back to the knitting as Cooper deal waits approval

Any lingering doubts over the outcome of the Cooper Industries offer for MTL (See January INSIDER) were largely dispelled in mid-January when Cooper announced that it had received acceptances for more than 90% of the issued share capital and that the offer would therefore become unconditional. With the deal still subject to regulatory approval, however, few if any MTL representatives were in a position to comment either on the deal itself or on its likely subsequent ramifications once Cooper gets its hands on the levers. But that did not prevent it staging a major launch last month which, as luck would have it, was positioned right at the core of MTL’s original business and of what had attracted Cooper in the first place, its intrinsic safety expertise.

As relatively recently arrived marketing director Dermot Coady explained, MTL now has more products outside its hazardous area business than in it. “MTL is now not just a hazardous area business,” he said and that was underlined by last year’s acquisitions including Elpro, which took it into wireless I/O and gateways, and RTK Instruments which, as well as giving it an alarm capability, provided an entrée to the power industry where RTK finds some 80% of its business.

According to Coady these deals together with the acquisition of Ocean Technical Systems, were consistent with CEO Graeme Philp’s strategic ambition of becoming the key supplier of building blocks to the world’s major process automation vendors. An important plank in that strategy has been the development of MOST (MTL Open System Technologies) in the U.S. to offer a third-party control platform and, while no major DCS vendor has yet taken the final step of abandoning its proprietary controller for a third party solution, Coady told INSIDER that discussions are well advanced with a particular DCS supplier.

Not dying

Despite all these developments, however, the introduction of a new IS product line is still a major event for MTL. While intrinsic safety no longer dominates MTL in the way that it did in the ’80s and ’90s, it still accounts for some 40% of the group’s total business. Moreover, although its Foundation fieldbus device business grew by 60% last year, it still shipped 20% more traditional point-to-point IS isolation products than in the previous year, leading Coady to comment that “this is not a dying business.”

MTL last introduced a range of galvanic isolation products 10 years ago when it launched its 4000 series of back plane mounting isolators aimed principally at the project-oriented market among DCS vendors and OEMs. These were complemented by the entirely separate ‘application focussed’ 5000 series of DIN-rail mounting devices. The principal achievement of the new introduction is that, while they remain compatible with their respective predecessors, the new back plane mounting 4500 series and DIN-rail mounting 5500 series are now configured around a common kernel. Using this ‘One-Core’ approach, both product families share the same mechanical features and electrical attributes and are built around a common circuit board which fits in either housing and can be customized to provide a range of functions. Other advantages of the design are a significant reduction in power consumption and industry-leading channel packing densities.

New transformer

What makes the new design with its high degree of commonality and crucially manufacturability possible is a new planar transformer, assembly of whose primary windings, formed by tracks on the motherboard, secondary windings on a separate daughter board and transformer core can be entirely automated. Indeed the entire manufacturing process from start to finish, including final test, has been automated, enabling MTL to manufacture the modules in the U.K. while keeping its costs competitive with other manufacturers who have been forced to outsource to the Far East in search of lower labor costs because of the manual content in their production processes.

Barring unforeseen accidents, February should have seen Cooper’s acquisition of MTL completed. All the indications are that, at least initially, MTL will continue to operate as an autonomous entity, albeit as part of Cooper Crouse-Hinds. That would certainly seem to be the wisest option. According to Coady, MTL is due to make a number of major announcements over the coming months, indicating that its thirst for innovation is as strong as ever both in traditional areas such as intrinsic safety and in such new areas as cyber security. The very last thing a new owner needs to do is to stifle that innovative flair.

Program provides route to cyber security compliance

Last month saw the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) give its approval of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC-CIP) standards, thereby making enforceable the mandatory NERC-CIP compliance facing North American electric utilities by the middle of this year. One timely response is the introduction by Industrial Defender, the “cyber risk protection” specialist formerly known as Verano, of an Industrial Defender Enabled Partner Program to assist real-time process control and SCADA system and equipment vendors in providing their customers with comprehensive integrated cyber security solutions. Participants in the program will gain access to integrated technology solutions, co-marketing and demand-generation programs, leveraging Industrial Defender’s “defence in depth” approach to cyber security which includes network security professional services, cyber security technology and managed security services.

Two levels

Industrial Defender is offering potential partners two levels of participation, Partner and Premier Partner. Partners complete a comprehensive technology validation process to enable their devices to be monitored by the Industrial Defender Security Event Management (SEM) console and, thus, enhance cyber security on process control or SCADA networks. Partners’ customers who then purchase a SEM console will be able to monitor all Industrial Defender-enabled devices on their networks. Partners will also have the opportunity to participate in co-marketing and demand-generation programs.

Premier Partners will enjoy more extensive technology integration of their devices, including monitoring and management by the SEM console as well as co-marketing, demand-generation and solution-selling. Industrial Defender’s cyber security technology, network security professional services and managed security services will be combined with the premier partner’s technologies.

First to join up as a partner is IP-based SCADA RTU provider CSE-Semaphore while the first Premier Partner is ruggedized communications networking specialist RuggedCom. Semaphore’s telemetry systems leverage web technologies and public networks to cut by half the total installed cost-per-point compared with traditional SCADA/PLC based telemetry solutions, while allowing greater organizational access to data through automated reporting and browser software. Its RTUs include T-BOX, which is aimed at decentralized networks and incorporates an integral web server and the IEC 61131-3- and IEC 61499-compliant Kingfisher. As an Industrial Defender-enabled partner, Semaphore is offering what is claimed to be the industry’s first RTU line fully to support cyber security protection for process control and SCADA networks.

Join development

As its name implies, RuggedCom provides rugged communications networking infrastructure products for harsh environments, including electrical substations, but it also markets a user authentication solution for the electric power market known RuggedCom Gauntlet and designed to provide secure access to critical cyber assets. As well as participating as a Premier Partner, it’s entered into an agreement with Industrial Defender jointly to develop, market and co-brand what claims will be the most comprehensive cyber security solution for critical infrastructure industries including the power, oil and gas, transportation, water and chemical sectors. The agreement will also enable Industrial Defender to extend its reach into harsh network environments.

“Working with RuggedCom provides customers with a completely integrated and easier roadmap to NERC-CIP compliance for their critical cyber assets,” said Industrial Defender president and CEO Brian Ahern.

  • GarrettCom and the Canadian substation management specialist, Bow Networks, have announced a cyber security solution specifically designed for remote facilities, such as power utility substations. The CrossBow Secure Access Manager integrates Bow Networks’ remote access software solutions with the security and management features of GarrettCom’s hardened remote networking and security devices. This combination creates an “electronic security perimeter” and provides auditable secure remote access to intelligent electric devices (IEDs) and other industrial devices. It thus provides North American electric power utilities with the means to comply with NERC CIP cyber security standards. Under the terms of the agreement between the two companies, GarrettCom becomes the exclusive distributor of CrossBow to power utilities in North America, but both companies will market it in other industrial sectors. The companies plant to continue technology development in order to meet evolving cyber security threats and compliance requirements.

Project assesses ProfiNet at the device level

Phoenix Contact has been participating in a joint project with the Lemgo Industrial IT Institute (inIT), the Berlin Technical University (TU Berlin), MAZeT and Siemens under the auspices of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research to investigate the use of high-speed Ethernet in real-time industrial applications. The project, entitled “Real-time Ethernet in sensor/actuator networking,” is investigating the performance of various transmission methods in different scenarios, with Phoenix Contact’s focus being specifically on the use of ProfiNet for communication in the field as part of its IT-powered Automation concept. The principal conclusion of the project is that ProfiNet IRT, the hard real-time implementation of the ProfiNet protocol, offers the fastest and most future-proof real-time Ethernet system.

Shorter cycle times

Although the summation frame procedure used by protocols such as Ethercat have been shown to have advantages on the linear topologies of simple machines at transmission rates of 100 Mbps, they only do so when less than 60 bytes of user data need to be transmitted for each device. By contrast, data delivery via individual frames, the technique used by ProfiNet IRT, allows shorter cycle times, if the processing times in the devices and the “telegram” overhead are reduced and the so-called “drafting” effect is used.

The study has also found that ProfiNet’s data delivery via individual frames benefits more from increasing bit rates of, for example, 1000 Mbps than other transmission methods. Moreover, for larger amounts of user data in the branching topologies used in more complex systems, the transmission method used by ProfiNet IRT always yields performance advantages compared with protocols using summation frame techniques.

Phoenix contact and its partners plan to demonstrate prototype systems based on their findings at the Hanover Fair in April 2008.

  • Brazilian process automation vendor Smar reports rapid uptake of digital networks, especially of Profibus DP and PA, in the burgeoning Brazilian ethanol from sugar cane market which is predicted to be worth more than $15bn by 2012. Particular drivers are the need for low-cost technology for implementation, data protection, ease of operation and maintenance, and complete integration between field instrumentation and control system. According to Smar, more than 50% of new sugar and ethanol plants in Brazil are currently being designed with Profibus technology.

Typical of the new projects is that for Tropical Bioenergia which includes some 1000 Profibus nodes supervised by 15 Smar DFI302 DF73 controllers and overseen by Smar’s System302-7 decentralized architecture hybrid control system. Smar has also recently signed a contract with Santa Elisa Distillery, a subsidiary of major sugar ethanol producer Santelisa-Vale Group (SVG), for the complete automation of four new plants. In each case, Smar will supply its System302-7 control system together with complete Profibus- enabled field instrumentation, controllers and control panels. The project also involves provision of a Center of Integrated Operations (COI) based on a successful Smar system previously implemented for Santa Elisa. Smar will be supplying more than 3200 Profibus PA field instruments and four supervisory control systems. In addition AS-I technology will be used for the control of the on-off valves and sensors. Two of the four units are due to begin operation in July 2008 with the other two starting up in May 2009. A further joint venture project of similar scope between SVG and Maeda Group is due to start up in early 2008.

All of these projects are integrated with Smar’s Studio application, which is a System302-7 component that allows complete management of a project’s software requirements.

Honeywell in BP Exploration MAC deal

Honeywell has entered into a six-year agreement with BP Exploration to provide main automation contractor (MAC) services at its new and existing facilities with the aim of accelerating production schedules and improving efficiency by integrating all levels of plant operations and automating critical processes.

“Automation will be a key to streamlining operations and improving business performance as we move into the future,” said Tim Bass, BP Exploration’s director of procurement and supply chain management, projects and engineering. “Honeywell has the tools and experience to enable BP to implement its automation strategy, improving integration and the operating efficiency of our assets.”

As the MAC services provider, Honeywell plans to apply an integrated strategy to each design phase, including front-end engineering development, early operator training and process simulation, advanced control modelling, process validation and advanced process control. Honeywell says the integrated approach will result in common interfaces across production and business systems for increased safety and efficiency, higher plant availability, lower operating expenditures and reduced engineering. The integrated MAC approach will allow BP to draw on Honeywell’s process control, MES and safety and security solutions as well as wireless-enabled applications.

  • Honeywell is to provide the integrated control system for Woodside’s new Pluto liquefied natural gas (LNG) Project in Western Australia. Based on the Pluto gas field north west of Karratha, the project is Western Australia’s first new LNG plant for more than 20 years and will produce 4.3 million tons of LNG per year when it comes on stream in late 2010. It includes sub-sea wells, offshore, unmanned wellhead platform, 180-km trunk line, onshore LNG plant and associated infrastructure. Honeywell’s Experion PKS R300 will control all process operations and provide data from subsystems throughout the facility. Honeywell will also specify, procure, engineer and integrate the emergency shutdown and fire and gas systems. The control system project is scheduled for completion in 2009 and Honeywell’s UniSim Operator Training Simulator will allow process design verification and operator training to begin prior to start-up.

The entire control system will be integrated through Experion with Field Device Manager and Asset Manager helping operators efficiently to monitor and diagnose field devices, and the Uniformance PHD data historian providing efficient and effective data analysis. Honeywell will provide consulting services and applications to assist operators in sorting and prioritizing system alarms.

  • Field instrument protection specialist Intertec is supplying more than 100 fire protection cabinets to protect instrumentation at the new hydrocracker complex being constructed at the Kirishi oil refinery near St. Petersburg, Russia. The cabinets will provide valve actuators supplied by the field instrumentation vendor for the project, Emerson Process Management, with a minimum of 30 minutes of protection against fire, to ensure that emergency shut-down systems and services can quickly isolate and minimize damage and protect employees, assets and environment. The GRP cabinets are variations of Intertec’s field proven Fire Shelter and, because no Russian or German norms exist for this exact application, their performance was validated before installation by the independent Russian institution, Pozhaudit. Tests on an example cabinet showed that the internal temperature did not rise above 60 °C for at least 30 minutes when subjected to an oil-based fire with a temperature of around 1000 °C.
  • Metso is to supply a metsoDNA CR automation system to replace the existing controls on the dry stone and asphalt plant at Hanson Aggregates U.K.’s Criggion Quarry in Powys, Wales. Metso’s scope of supply includes its metsoDNA historian, which provides a data warehousing solution for process and product related information. As well as plant management and production reporting, the system will also provide order management functions after start-up in May 2008.

Joy in heaven over Rockwell standards stance

A new white paper published by Rockwell Automation and downloadable from its literature site explores how companies can gain competitive advantage through their involvement in standard and regulation creation processes. “A Perspective on Standards: A Tool for Global Competitive Survival in an Increasingly Complex Regulatory World” includes contributions from leading standards, trade and conformity assessment organizations on why standards and regulations are important to global business and why industry should care.

Those with memories long enough to remember some of the fieldbus wars of the mid- ’90s, which featured a number of notable skirmishes between the Siemens-Profibus and Rockwell DeviceNet-cum-ControlNet camps may feel that there will be “more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” when they read of Rockwell’s own chief technology officer Sujeet Chand arguing, “Never has it been more important that corporate leadership pays attention as standards have become critical to a business’ ability to compete and survive in an increasingly regulated and complex global marketplace. As manufacturing automation becomes more global and seeks consistent solutions in different geographies, standards become increasingly more important and can significantly impact a company’s profitability and competitiveness.”

Old formula won’t work

The paper is in part a plea for other suppliers and end users to identify and influence the development of standards to meet future industry and technology needs. It quotes ANSI president Joe Bhatia as saying that “The old formula for success—“engineer it, patent it and then sell it”—won’t work in today’s global marketplace. CEOs have two choices: Position your organization to take a seat at the table and be part of the standards-setting process, or let your competitors dictate the way you’ll be doing business . . . Market leaders and standards leaders are often one in [sic] the same.”

In a similar vein, IEC vice president Frank Kitzantides says, “The standards-savvy business leaders use standardization as a business opportunity. CEOs should care and need to care because standards have a big impact on their bottom line.” After recent events surrounding WirelessHART, however, he might reflect that some business leaders may have been a bit too savvy for their own good, and some CEOs may have cared a bit too much.

The paper argues the case for harmonization to create a single consistent set of applicable standards and regulations. Global reuse and interoperability requires industry-led voluntary action to achieve “one standard, one test, accepted anywhere.”

Global acceptance

“Regulation and related standards are increasingly compromising global companies’ ability to design anywhere, build anywhere and sell anywhere,” the paper concludes. “There are multiple paths to develop an effective international standard, but the key to success is to build support for a solution so that it is accepted and implemented globally.”

All of which sounds fine in theory. However, even in these enlightened times, vendors are not above pursuing involvement in the standards process in order to subvert it and, hence, protect what they perceive to be their own competitive advantage. Witness just in our own small corner of industry, recent events relating to FDT-DTM and EDDL. Today’s Rockwell may well be above playing such games, but it might still be edifying to speculate on how it would react, for example, to a suggestion to replace the current plethora of Industrial Ethernet protocols with a single standard, particularly if that single standard were, let us say, ProfiNet.

  • Rockwell’s competitors will no doubt be intrigued by a new white paper from ARC entitled “Rockwell Automation Builds a Business Value Proposition for the Oil and Gas Industry” which, not entirely surprisingly, can be downloaded from the Rockwell web site at Not for the first time, the reader will be left wondering why ARC jeopardizes its reputation for objectivity by producing a document which fails to place the subject’s own capabilities in the context of its competitors. Indeed, it’s not until page 32 out of 35 and the section headed “Strengths and Challenges Moving Forward,” that there is a hint of anything other than total approval of Rockwell’s capabilities or strategy for oil and gas.

Even then the first paragraph of the section concludes with a restatement of an earlier observation by ARC that “The major process automation system players should consider Rockwell Automation as a formidable global competitor in the years ahead.” Only then do the authors concede that “Rockwell Automation does have some challenges. In the oil and gas automation system marketplace, the top tier of suppliers controls a significant portion of the market, with long-held installed bases of DCS systems and instrumentation. Rockwell Automation must continue to provide a superior business value proposition that gives oil and gas users a reason to migrate to their solutions outside of their traditional strong position in drives and MCCs.”

Whether such a superior proposition currently exists and, if it does, of what it is comprised are surely the key unanswered questions relating to Rockwell’s move into the mainstream process arena.

  • Rockwell Automation reported income from continuing operations of $156.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2008 compared to $130.9 million in the same period last year. Sales in the quarter were up 16% at $1,331.9 million. Architecture and Software saw first quarter sales increase 9% to $577.9 million while Control Products & Solutions sales were up 22% at $754 million. Chairman and CEO Keith Nosbusch said that half of the company’s revenue in the period came from outside the U.S. “While we acknowledge that there is significant uncertainty in the economic environment, particularly in the United States, we have not seen any fundamental change in customer demand for our products, services and solutions,” he added. “For the most part, customer capital spending and project activity appear firm at this time.”

HA PI monitors major U.S. energy market

The Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (Midwest ISO) has implemented OSIsoft’s PI System enterprise data historian to monitor and manage the Midwest Energy Market, one of the world’s largest power markets. Midwest ISO is also responsible for nearly 94,000 miles of interconnected high-voltage power lines transmitting more than 129,000MW in 15 US states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

PI provides Midwest ISO with real-time data management to enhance grid reliability and scalability and minimize risk. “We rely on real-time data to deliver a reliable power system to our customers, so it is critical that our data historian provides us with the utmost performance,” said Midwest ISO CIO Jim Schinski. . “… the OSIsoft PI System provides us with the high availability and scalability that we need to operate in this competitive marketplace.”

Half a million tags

The PI System implementation will interface with Midwest ISO’s Areva SCADA System to monitor 500,000 PI tags in a High Availability (HA) configuration. A further upgrade to 600,000 data streams is planned when Midwest ISO’s Ancillary Services Market (ASM) begins operation in mid-2008, enabling power producers to sell additional services such as regulation and spinning and non-spinning reserves.

Introduced in early 2007, the HA version of PI enables large-scale ISO implementations to gather, store and make available information across the organization, even during unplanned maintenance or downtime. Data is protected by a redundant system and fault tolerant software that delivers interface failover, buffering and PI Server replication.

ZigBee completes public application profile

The ZigBee Alliance has completed development of its ZigBee Smart Energy public application profile. ZigBee Smart Energy is being offered to utility companies and device manufacturers as a potential open standard for implementing secure wireless home area networks for energy management. It enables wireless communication between utility companies and common household devices, such as smart thermostats and appliances.

Consumers will be able to choose interoperable products from different manufacturers in order to manage their energy consumption while utility companies will be able to implement advanced metering and demand response programs. ZigBee Smart Energy provides communication and control for devices such as in-home displays, programmable communicating thermostats, water heaters, lighting, smart appliances and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, together with energy service portals and energy management systems. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory showed that households with digital tools controlling temperature and price preferences saved on average 10% on their utility bills and that, if households have such tools, peak loads on utility grids can be cut by up to 15%, translating into $70bn savings on new plant and infrastructure in the US over a 20 year period.

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