Foxboro Comes Home to Boston

July 16, 2007
The 2007 Foxboro User Group meeting called the exhibit area the Fast Lane Pavilion, providing a number of Wii-based road-racing games.

The 2007 Foxboro User Group meeting began Sunday night with a reception and exhibits. They called the exhibit area the Fast Lane Pavilion, and provided a number of Wii-based road-racing games. Attendees can win play money with the face of Terry Deo, user group chair, on the bills, and enter to take home the Wii games. In contrast with the larger Invensys Process Systems joint user-group meeting last year, this is an intimate, almost family gathering of 360 attendees. The reception included a stunning performance by a group of teen students from Franklin School for the Performing arts called Electric Youth. They played two sets of Broadway and pop tunes with singing and dancing by the 13 girls and 4 boys of the ensemble. Electric Youth performs the national anthem at Fenway Park on July 19th. This user group is different, as steering committee member Larry Wells, of Georgia Pacific, pointed out. “This is just us and Foxboro’s technical staff, with less marketing-oriented stuff.”

The General Session got underway today with a welcome by Terry Deo of Infineum USA, who noted that “I’m the guy on the dollar bill,” a welcome from Betty Naylor-McDevitt, Foxboro marketing director, and a blazing fast peek at the Foxboro I/A roadmap by Thad Lewis Frost, I/A marketing manager, who proclaimed, “I’m the guy who is responsible for commitments.”

Frost went over the I/A roadmap, concentrating on short term deliverables, and pointing the way to long term direction.  Since the introduction of I/A V8.0, Foxboro has been integrating older versions of I/A into its latest Mesh networking platform. Version 8.0 introduced the ATS, or address translation station, which is the gateway from NodeBus to the Mesh . They’ve introduced migration for older 100 Series I/O as well as preserving customers’ investments in existing 100 Series migrations of competitive DCS I/O. Version 8.2 provided new software and permitted boot hosting of NodeBus from The Mesh with the new workstations. This eliminated the need to continue using hosting with the old NT and Sun workstations on NodeBus.

Finally, Frost went over stuff that is available now. V8.3 has the new ZCP270 controller, which talks now to both 100 and 200 series controllers and adds more I/O. The FPC270 controller expansion now allows up to 128 DIN mounted intelligent I/O modules (FBMs).
Coming attractions, according to Frost:

  • A new sequence-of-events (SOE) recorder with capability of recording events from digital I/O with 1-ms resolution plantwide, running in the XP environment and interfacing with all 200 Series digital I/O.
  • Solaris on the Mesh. Foxboro is committed to provide support for Solaris workstations for the foreseeable future, including boot hosting from Solaris X.
  • A new gateway system, including especially an Allen-Bardley Ethernet/IP driver that beta tester Tom Lemieux of Alabama River Pulp, says “is the best driver/gateway I’ve seen in the last 20 years.”
  • New transient data recorder and analyzer system. Similar to the SOE recorder described above, but will also handle analog information.
  • Controller enhancements, including self-hosting for FCP and ZCP 270s, function block enhancements, DCI block support, FDT block support and enhanced Profibus support.
  • InFusion 1.1– will play better with the installed base.
  • Windows rack server.
  • Version 8.4.1, sometime in 2008, will feature both controllers working with both kinds of I/O.

Finally, Frost talked about the 100 Series migration program. After 20 years, Foxboro is shutting down new sales, calling the 100 Series “mature” and, as they announced last year, declaring nine more years of future support.

Looking out in the distance, Frost mentioned support for Windows Vista, moving toward a more services/solutions mindset, control in the field (control on the wire) with Foundation fieldbus and superior integration between Triconex safety systems and the I/A platform.

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