Updates boost flexibility of Centum VP controller

By Jim Montague

Sep 11, 2018

Upheaval isn't so bad if you can just get a few seconds to see where you're at and where you're going. The same goes for technologically tumultuous times, of course, when catching your breath and getting your bearings can make it possible to survive, stay sane and maybe even thrive.

Eugene Spiropoulos, Yokogawa systems consulting manager, offered just such a grounded guide to Yokogawa’s latest systems technology in his "Yokogawa Systems Update" presentation this week at the company’s Users Conference in Orlando.

"To enable our Synaptic Business Automation initiative, our automation solutions have been organized into five categories under our new OpreX platform," explained Spiropoulos. "This will help everyone better understand our systems, gain some added direction for the future, and see how they work together and relate to you."

The five major OpreX categories are:

  • OpreX Transformation that includes Yokogawa's manufacturing execution systems (MES), advanced solutions, simulation and optimization tools.
  • OpreX Control that incudes its distributed control systems (DCS), safety instrumented systems (SIS) and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
  • OpreX Measurement that includes all of its instrumentation and analytical devices.
  • OpreX Execution that includes its smart junction boxes, modular engineering tools and system-independent loop-check devices.
  • OpreX Lifecycle that brings together maintenance and planning tools such as the company’s System Health Check Tools, which enable users to view all of the hardware and software components in their applications and facilities.

Controller gains 

Perhaps the most significant update Spiropoulos described are several major enhancements to Yokogawa's Centum VP R6.06 controller.

"Many of the improvements we've developed are directly based on feedback we've received from our end users over the years," added Spiropoulos. "For example, it's not generally known that Yokogawa was the first to introduce configurable I/O back in 1993 as part of our RIO product."

The innovations in Centum VP R6.06 include:

  • Network I/O (N-IO) and Fieldnetwork I/O (FIO) running in one Field Control Station (FCS) controller, which lets users expand their network I/O deployments using their existing infrastructure technology. This will be especially useful to greenfield projects, particularly in upstream and remote I/O configurations. It will also reduce the cost of designing system cabinets for N-IO configuration.
  • Automation Design (AD) Suite engineering environment delivers faster performance and allows users to visualize and collaborate with remote colleagues. Other benefits include application and software module reusability for reduced engineering time.
  • FCS online upgrade for continuous processes will maintain control function quality without disturbing production. Different technologies in different lifecycles will be able to use it to work together, enabling users to have more flexibility when and how to upgrade their applications and facilities.
  • Windows Server 2016 adoption provides long-term platform support.
  • Run-time virtualization on R6.06 aids in operating expenditures by improving computer hardware maintainability and reducing power consumption, as well as simplifying system design.

"Yokogawa has used virtualization on Level 3 applications for a long time, and also employs it at the engineering level, so users can work in a collaborative environment," said Spiropoulos. "However, it's the FCS online upgrade that fulfills one of Yokogawa's most stringent points, which is not leaving customers behind as new products are introduced. This gives users huge flexibility, and maximizes their ability to maintain uptime. Plus, with the FCS online upgrade, they can perform updates on the fly without having to shutdown."

Spiropoulos added these innovations enhance the high I/O density that FCS already delivers. "FCS is a beast that's four times more powerful than the average I/O controller," he explained. "This is aided by the fact that N-IO is smart, configurable I/O that's truly universal, so users don't have to make physical changes to use many different signals. N-IO allows the validation testing and device configurations that are usually done during factory acceptance test (FAT) to happen without having the actual system anywhere in sight. This lets users ship early, team up at the junction box stage, and have much more flexibility to sort out their systems.

“This is all about improving how our engineering and other customers feel at the end of the day,” Spiropoulos added. “We try to make our products as painless to use as possible and deliver a much value as possible.”