Control News from Europe February 2008

Feb. 5, 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.

What Happens to MOST Now that MTL Belongs to Cooper?

One of MTL’s most ambitious initiatives as it has sought to diversify away from a total reliance on its intrinsic safety expertise has been the formation of MOST (MTL Open Systems Technologies) and the development of the Matrix process control platform based on its widely adopted MTL 8000 Process I/O.
Ultimately the hope has been that mainstream DCS vendors will take a further and final step down the COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) road and abandon their own proprietary controllers in favor of a third party solution from MOST, but in the meantime Matrix has been targeted primarily at systems integrators, OEMs and second-tier system vendors. Indeed MOST has gone out if its way to stress that it isn’t competing with the top-tier vendors, although that wasn’t sufficient to prevent a certain amount of acrimony among key customers, not least Emerson, when the initiative was first announced. However, DCS vendors now seem to accept Matrix and its more recently introduced SafetyNet SIL2 safety derivative as complementing rather than competing with their own offerings.


By a happy coincidence, MOST chose the day before the announcement of Cooper Industries’ approach to MTL to release the latest version of Matrix and with it, integration with Wonderware System Platform 3.0. MTL’s relationship with Wonderware goes back to at least 2000, when it acquired Houston-based Standard Automation & Control (STAC) and with it both the technological basis for Matrix and a major Wonderware distributorship, since renamed Wonderware West.

“Our control solutions have always made extensive use of Wonderware software solutions such as InTouch, Wonderware Historian and InBatch,” said MOST marketing vice president Dave Reynolds. “The integration of the System Platform 3.0 offers our customers major benefits—significant reduction in project engineering and deployment costs, easy expansion of existing systems, enhanced production and performance management reporting and integration with enterprise-wide business systems.”

System Platform 3.0

Matrix v. 8.2 uses System Platform 3.0 automatically to manage and coordinate the development, modification and deployment of control application components or templates containing the information necessary for alarming, trending, historization and security of process control tasks, such as PID control, motor control, I/O interfacing and diagnostics, all of which can be graphically represented through a set of Wonderware SmartSymbols. It also includes enhanced security features, including a trusted-host table that ensures that only specified MAC addresses can write data to the controller; password protection of the controller to prevent unauthorized changes; a protected controller mode which prevents configuration changes and provision of a keyswitch to lock the controller and prevent further changes; and CRC checking of data to ensure that it has only been modified by the Matrix Workbench and not by an outside tool. These security enhancements are in addition to the extensive new security features that come with System Platform 3.0.

With its latest release Matrix moves a step nearer providing not just an alternative to PLCs in batch and hybrid applications, but a realistic contender for the lower end of the mainstream DCS business. One of the issues confronting MTL’s new parent, assuming sufficient of the remaining shareholders accept the current bid, will be to consider whether it is prepared to risk antagonizing major customers among the mainstream DCS vendors by further encroaching on to what they regard as their turf.

Upheaval at Siemens

Back last summer, the received wisdom among current and former Siemens insiders was that the departure of president and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld and supervisory board chairman Heinrich von Pierer under something of a cloud and the subsequent arrival from Merck as CEO of Peter Löscher would have little or no impact on the day-to-day affairs of the organization. Judge for yourself how right they were from the fact that this month sees the implementation of the biggest single upheaval for decades with the consolidation of the company’s existing divisions into three sectors.

The Industry Sector, headed by Heinrich Hiesinger, will be divided into Industry Automation, Motion Control, Building Technologies, Industry Solutions, Mobility and Osram, while the Energy Sector under Wolfgang Dehen will be made up of Fossil Power Generation, Renewable Energy, Oil & Gas, Service Rotating Equipment, Power Transmission and Power Distribution. The third sector, Healthcare, under Erich R. Reinhardt, will comprise Imaging & IT, Workflow & Solutions and Diagnostics.

The Industry Sector effectively covers the activities of the former Automation and Drives (A&D), Industrial Solutions and Services (I&S), Transportation Systems (TS), Siemens Building Technologies (SBT) and Osram businesses with Anton Huber heading up the new Industry Automation unit; Klaus Helmrich, previously head of the Standard Drives Division, the newly separated Motion Control division; and former Industrial Solutions and Services group president Joergen Ole Haslestad, the Industry Solutions unit. The most prominent casualty appears to be former Automation & Drives boss Helmut Gierse, who is understood to be departing.

One effect of separating Motion Control from Industrial Automation is expected to be to enable the latter to address higher level solutions business, while ARC’s David Humphrey suggests that with Huber and Helmrich, two of the architects of Totally Integrated Automation (TIA), heading up A&D’s successor divisions, that concept will survive intact. One perhaps related effect of the change has been that the Siemens A&D UK web site at has been inaccessible and without a redirect for the best part of a month.

Process Automation to Outpace Discrete to 2011

Just why traditional discrete-focused PLC vendors such as Rockwell Automation and GE Fanuc are so keen to build a presence in process automation is highlighted by two new reports from ARC. “Automation Systems for Discrete Industries Worldwide Outlook” estimates the global discrete automation systems market in 2006 to have been worth nearly $17 billion and has it growing at a healthy 6.8% compound to pass $23 billion by 2011. But “Automation Systems for Process Industries Worldwide Outlook” estimates the equivalent process automation systems market to have been worth almost twice as much at $30 billion in 2006 and has it growing almost half as fast again at 9.6% compound, which will see it worth more than $47 billion by 2011.

Cost Pressures

Driving that growth is the constant cost pressure in the process industries which “leaves no alternative, but to improve plant performance, and process automation technologies play a key role in achieving this,” says senior analyst Himanshu Shah, the principal author of both reports. “One reason the automation business is doing so well today is the huge list of challenges and changing conditions in the global business environment that manufacturers must respond to,” he says. “These challenges include globalization, the need to react quickly and with agility to emerging market opportunities and increasing pressure to improve financial performance.”
In the specific case of the discrete market, ARC contrasts historical capital expenditure cycles driven by the replacement cycle in the machinery sector with the current pattern in which growth continues to be fueled by increasing consumer power in Eastern Europe and Asia. As a result, automation vendors see the normal five-year capital expenditure cycle having only a ripple effect on the longer term sustained growth pattern.

That is further underlined by the continuing buoyancy of the Chinese PLC market. In a new report, “Programmable Logic Controllers Outlook for China,” ARC estimates its current value at $750 million and has it growing at 12.4% compound over the next five years to reach $1.3 billion by 2011.

Frost & Sullivan broadly agrees in its latest analysis, estimating that the market earned revenues of $541 million in 2006 and expecting it to reach $1.04 billion by 2013. With China poised to become the world’s third biggest economy in 2007, Shah says, “The manufacturing sector’s search for sustainable competitive advantages through continuous productivity improvements will lead to the application of plant level automation across all vertical industries in a major way.”

MES and Safety Systems Markets to Grow

Manufacturing industry worldwide will spend $2.5 billioin on traditional MES software and services by 2012, according to a new study from Datamonitor, “Linking Plant Floor and Enterprise Systems for Greater Manufacturing Agility.” By 2012, says the report, the worldwide market for traditional MES software and services will reach $2.5 billion, up from $950 million in 2006, without even taking into account newer manufacturing intelligence solutions focused solely on pulling data up from the plant floor.

Datamonitor surveyed 150 companies in North America and Western Europe and found that 61% are either currently planning to link their plant floor and enterprise systems or were already actively investing in doing so. Currently leading the trend are companies in pharmaceuticals, food and beverage and chemicals, but discrete industries are expected to start to join in by 2009.

“A focus on production metrics and manufacturing agility means that manufacturers need better communications between the two system environments,” said manufacturing technology analyst and study author Adam Jura. “As a result, we’re seeing significant expenditure on both traditional manufacturing execution systems (MES), as well as newer manufacturing intelligence solutions. In so doing, companies hope to improve their scheduling, supply-chain interactions and performance monitoring capabilities.”

Although the MES market continues to be highly fragmented with many smaller vendors focused on individual industry processes, mergers and acquisitions will continue as vendors seek to acquire industry functionality, services capabilities and greater overall scale. Vendors focusing on regulated industries will prove the most attractive acquisitions as end users are forced to invest. “…the emerging threat of manufacturing intelligence-only solutions is forcing vendors to develop additional functionality,” says Jura. “As such, the winners in this market over the next few years will be heavily influenced by acquisition strategy, functionality development and services capabilities.”

Frost & Sullivan puts the value of the world market for safety systems in the process industries at $1.0 billion in 2006 and estimates that it will reach $2.1 billion in 2013. End users, it says, are seeking to minimize the trade-off between process uptime and process safety. Increasing the predictability of safety system failure would reduce downtime and have an indirect impact on process efficiency by improving productivity, process uptime and output. Vendors need to educate end users on the benefits of technologically advanced safety systems over home grown solutions. Major opportunities exist in legacy installations and in the retrofit market, where the demand for safety systems remains largely untapped. Solutions with open architecture and the flexibility to adapt to the different systems from various automation suppliers are likely to achieve greater end user acceptance.

Iconics Ups the Ante with Windows 2008 Certification

Iconics has stolen something of a march on rival SCADA software vendors by obtaining “Certified for Windows 2008” approval for GraphWorX64, a core component of its Genesis64 suite. GraphWorX64 has carried the “Certified for Windows Vista” designation since last July and now claims to be the first industrial automation solution to earn certification for Windows Server 2008. As a result Iconics becomes one of the first companies to receive both certifications.

Certification is critical to enabling software applications to take advantage of the enhanced security features inherent in the new Microsoft products. It has also become something of a marketing tool for automation software vendors ,such as Iconics and the Austrian SCADA vendor Copa-Data, enabling them to make favorable comparisons with other vendors which have chosen not to pursue it.

Test Cases

Windows Server 2008 software certification comprises approximately 100 test cases that independently confirm an application’s compliance with best practices for compatibility, security, reliability and availability on the new platform. As a participant in the Microsoft Early Access Program (EAP) for Windows Server 2008 Software Certification, GraphWorX64 is one of more than 300 applications that are eligible for certification on a pre-release version of the new platform.

GraphWorX64 is part of the Genesis64 suite, which allows users to integrate real-time manufacturing and business information into a common, OPC-UA-compliant, Web-enabled visualization dashboard. It is a fully compliant OPC client which uses ActiveX and OLE automation technologies to create animated graphics for process control. “Engineering is typically 60% of the cost of automation projects,” said Iconics lead program manager Simone Massaro. “Genesis64 takes advantage of advances in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, as well as of new 64-bit technology, to reduce costs, speed up development time and ensure state-of-the-art graphical visualization.”

Citect Supplies SCADA System to UK Gas Terminal

Citect has supplied a 10,000+ point, fully dual redundant SCADA system to monitor the control and safety systems at Total UK’s St. Fergus gas terminal in Scotland. The terminal receives and processes gas from some 20 fields in the North Sea, providing up to 20% of the U.K.’s natural gas requirements.

The CitectSCADA system, part of an upgrade project aimed at extending the life of the terminal by a further 25 years, replaces an existing SCADA system installed in the 1980s. It sits above the safety and control systems, monitoring all pipeline telemetry from a dozen feeder platforms, the flow rate, pressure and composition of the gas and the systems controlling blending of the gas at the terminal. It has been configured to emulate the trending, alarm and reporting functions of the previous system, thus avoiding problems with safety and operator retraining. Because operators see the same screens as before, they have been comfortable with the new system from day one.

CitectSCADA provides DCS-style multi-level redundancy which can be easily configured and incorporated at all levels, enabling it to tolerate a hardware failure anywhere in a system. At St. Fergus all telemetry links and all of the current 10 clients switch automatically and seamlessly in the event of a failure of the primary server. “The success of this project has tremendous cost-saving implications for the oil and gas sector,” said Citect UK’s Paul Hurst. “It means that production and receiving facilities, whose futures were questionable due to the looming obsolescence of their current SCADA and DCS systems, can remain productive for many more years to come.”

ABB to Control Europe’s Largest Solar Plant . . .

ABB’s System 800xA DCS is to be used to control both units of Europe’s largest solar energy plant when it comes on-stream in the Sierra Nevada of Andalusia in southern Spain in 2009. The 100MW Andasol plant will be Europe’s first parabolic trough power plant and only the second in the world to use the technology on a commercial scale, the other being the 64 MW Nevada Solar One in the US.

Each of Andasol’s two 50MW units will have its own 200 hectare solar field containing 624 parabolic troughs arranged in 156 loops. The parabolic trough mirrors track the sun, concentrating its radiation on to heat transfer fluid in collector tubes at their foci. The resultant heat is used to generate steam to drive turbines in a conventional thermal power plant. Each field produces up to twice the thermal energy that can be absorbed by the plants’ steam turbines, and the excess energy is stored in liquid salt tanks for up to seven hours to ensure a continuous and stable supply of power to the grid.

Both Andasol 1 and 2 will be controlled by System 800xA and ABB Power Generation Portal software with the resultant power delivered to the local grid via ABB power transformers and substation equipment. The plant’s total output of some 350GW-hrs per year will be sufficient to power 100,000 Spanish households and displace 345,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

While Emerson Looks to Wind Farms

Increasing focus on energy and climate change issues seems to be raising the profile of Emerson Process Management’s Power & Water Solutions division, most recently with the announcement of Ovation SCADA for wind energy management. Emerson hasn’t missed the fact that, according to the World Wind Energy Association, total installed wind energy capacity is set to grow 54% in five years, from some 74,000MW in 2006 to 160,000MW by 2010. Much of that growth is coming from operators increasing the number of generators per farm or operating multiple farms, which in both cases increases their need for more efficient and effective management of their assets.

“In addition to optimizing operations at individual wind farms, the Ovation SCADA system can also be utilized to manage an entire fleet of wind farms,” explained Power & Water Solutions division president Bob Yeager. “The ability to connect a number of active wind farms to their corporate headquarters or operations centers offers further opportunities for increased efficiency, cost savings and better overall management of assets.”

Ovation SCADA’s functionality is designed to optimize wind farm operations, supporting wind turbine generators from all major OEMs and multiple communication networks including dial-up, leased lines and wireless. Individual turbines can be started, stopped, reset and tagged out remotely, minimizing labor-intensive site visits, while protective supervisory shutdown is automatically triggered by certain predefined site conditions such as vibration level. Diagnostic information from turbines, met towers and substations is available through network interfaces and can be stored in Ovation’s Historian to enable the creation of graphical trends to monitor equipment and farm conditions. The system also includes a tool to forecast production potential for a predefined time period based on known factors such as wind speed, wind direction and the condition of the turbine generator.

IPS Deal Offers Users 24/7 Managed Security

Invensys Process Systems (IPS), which is looking more like a services company with every passing day and now describes itself as, among other things, “a leading provider of process control network security,” has entered into a partnership with German managed security services provider Integralis to offer 24/7 global network security monitoring and management. Based in Ismaning near Munich, Integralis provides a full range of security solutions across Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East, including strategic IT security consulting, audits, risk management, definition of security policies, implementation and configuration of third-party products and comprehensive support up to and including 24/7 managed security.

IPS describes this collaboration between a major process control vendor and a major IT services provider as “unique” and says that it reflects the growing importance of combining process engineering and IT expertise in response to cyber threats to refineries, public utilities, pharmaceutical plants and other process industries. It also closely parallels the services being offered by Industrial Defender, the former Verano, which, under its CEO and Invensys alumnus Brian Ahern, 18 months ago acquired Co-Managed Security Service (CMSS) to add outsourced risk management to its portfolio of cyber security solutions.

Growing Need

Commenting on the IPS deal with Integralis, ARC vice president of emerging technologies Bob Mick said, “The process industries have a growing need to protect their production assets from cyber threats, but doing so requires a blend of production management and IT security skills that few companies can afford to maintain on site. In partnering with one of the world’s largest managed security service providers, Invensys is demonstrating a high level commitment to providing comprehensive cyber security protection to its customers.”

The Invensys cyber security portfolio already includes customized assessments, architecture design, implementation and management. Its customized services include site and vulnerability assessments, policy requirement drafting, security architecture and policy development, modernization of existing technology and continuous management, review, testing and optimization. Integralis will now extend this offering by providing managed security services including perimeter security, content security, threat and vulnerability management and secure authentication devices through a global network of fully redundant Security Operations Centers.

Husky Energy

One of the first implementations of the new combined services is at Husky Energy’s Upgrader Plant in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Canada. IPS is to provide Husky with assessment, design, implementation and real-time management of its plant and production networks, while Integralis provides full remote management of security devices, all required changes and updates, and 24/7/365 monitoring to aid in the prevention, detection and removal of cyber threats. Husky’s Saskatchewan and Manitoba ethanol plants are users of IPS’ I/A Series system technology and intelligent measurement and instrumentation equipment.

Rockwell/Dassault Deal Makes a Virtual of Reality

Rockwell Automation believes it has brought the concept of a virtual design and production environment a step nearer reality by entering into a joint development agreement with French Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions provider Dassault Systèmes. Such an environment would link product design to manufacturing, enabling collaborative mechanical and control design with bi-directional synchronization. Immediate feedback on design changes would enable “what if” scenarios to be tested in order continuously to optimize manufacturing operations, resulting in faster commissioning and optimal production performance.

“Manufacturers are anxiously awaiting a solution that can turn the idea of a virtual design and production environment into reality,” said Rockwell Automation vice president of Software Kevin Roach. “We see this relationship as a way to make our customers’ visions come true in the very near term by capitalizing on the strengths of both the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture and Dassault Systèmes’ PLM solutions.”


The two companies aim to link manufacturing design to the factory-floor by integrating Rockwell’s RSLogix 5000 control programming and configuration software with Dassault’s DELMIA Automation PLM software. That will reduce manufacturers’ engineering costs and ramp-up time and allow them continually to optimize manufacturing operations using an accurate, real-time simulation model. Working with customers, Rockwell and Dassault have created complementary manufacturing engineering technologies, built around strong, object-oriented data models for representing devices and operations.

“Virtual commissioning is a key capability in helping manufacturers go to market with speed, confidence and efficiency,” explained ARC vice president of consulting Jim Caie, while his colleague and senior analyst for PLM & Discrete Manufacturing Dick Slansky added that “The recent announcement … positions Rockwell Automation squarely in the digital manufacturing technology space and extends Dassault Systèmes’ reach into manufacturing operations. The integration of these solutions will provide manufacturers with the capability to virtually design their production systems in 3D and design and validate control logic prior to physical implementation and commissioning. This will reduce the time it takes to launch manufacturing systems, as well as its associated costs.”

Benchmark research conducted by Aberdeen Group shows 75% of best-in-class manufacturers investing in real-time interoperability between PLM and plant-floor technologies and that the best-in-class are twice as likely to hit their deadlines by starting manufacturing planning prior to design release and simulating facility and equipment operation during design.

“Manufacturers of complex, asset-intensive products like automobiles are turning to holistic factory simulation to decrease time to full volume production,” said Aberdeen Group vice president & group director of Product Innovation, Engineering and Manufacturing Research Jim Brown.

IBM Joins Rockwell Solution Provider Program

The latest recruit to Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk Information Solution Provider program is IBM’s Global Business Services. Launched in October 2006, the program is designed to provide an extended network of information systems professionals who can assist manufacturers in integrating their control and information environments by training and certifying participants on implementing applications within FactoryTalk. Joining the program extends IBM’s existing relationship with Rockwell by helping manufacturers build plant-wide information applications and MES implementations using FactoryTalk. The two companies have been actively collaborating on plant-to-enterprise solutions within several industries including automotive and life sciences.

GE Fanuc’s Process Initiative Gains Credibility

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms’ loudly trumpeted move into process automation has gained a degree of credibility with the news that Xinneng Energy, a leading supplier of energy-chemical products and services based in Zhangjiagang, China, has implemented the new Proficy Process Systems process control system. Xinneng Energy produces dimethyl ether (DME) from methanol for use as an aerosol propellant, a cryogenic freezing agent and a clean-burning alternative to liquefied natural gas, diesel and gasoline. It is seen as a particularly attractive alternative to natural gas in South East Asian countries such as India and China.

The new plant in Zhangjiagang was designed to produce a million tons of DME per year on three production lines, and Proficy Process Systems will be controlling these and a further two lines planned to come on-stream during 2008.

High Availability

The solution adopts a high-availability architecture using the Proficy HMI/SCADA – Cimplicity technology option for its operator consoles, a system server running Proficy Historian and RX7i processors using reflective memory technology from GE Fanuc Embedded Systems, which provide controller redundancy with data synchronization rates of two gigabits per second. The architecture also includes Ethernet I/O networking with remote I/O based on RX3i high availability remote I/O stations.

A common global namespace, based on technology co-developed with GE Energy, simplifies configuration and maintenance by allowing objects and tags in the system to be defined once and then referenced and used commonly throughout the system. As well as reducing system configuration time by 30%, the broadcasting technology used between controllers and operator consoles provides inherent system redundancy.