Foxboro to Help Users Modernize, Virtualize Automation Infrastructure

Sept. 12, 2012
Foxboro User Group Meeting Features New Invensys Execs. First meeting in five years explores Foxboro plans to help users modernize, virtualize automation infrastructure

There's the forest and then there are trees.

Indeed, successful process automation requires both perspectives: A clear vision of automation's value proposition as it relates to the process industries' high-level business challenges, together with a foundation and focus on the control, safety and instrumentation building blocks needed to make that vision a reality.

Users of Foxboro process automation systems were treated to liberal measures of both in Boston, August 13-16, as Invensys Operations Management convened its first dedicated Foxboro User Group meeting in some five years, dating back to when the company announced it would integrate its automation businesses into a unified company structure. The Foxboro User Group meeting was, in fact, the first of five in a "User Group Series" of brand-specific meetings this fall, underscoring the company's commitment to its core brands and capabilities.

"We're working together with our customers to define and deliver the future of automation," said Mike Caliel, CEO, Invensys Operations Management, in his opening remarks. "Yet control and safety remain the backbone of our business."

This balanced view is reflected in recent organizational changes, too. Gary Freburger was introduced as president of the systems business, a newly created position. The appointment acknowledges that in a single integrated company with the breadth of capabilities Invensys Operations Management offers, it can be difficult to juggle priorities. "My job is to focus on the systems business, to determine the strategy and investments needed to drive that business forward," Freburger said. In the newly created position Freberger is joined by counterparts Ravi Gopinath, software business president, and Rob Rennie, equipment business president. Industry veteran Chris Lyden also rejoined the Invensys Operations Management executive team as senior vice president of business development.

Currently at $2.1 billion in annual revenues, Invensys Operations Management has recorded double digital growth over the past several years, including 57% of new business from emerging markets, Caliel said. "We want to be known as a company that helps its customers optimize business performance and execute complex projects with innovation, fresh thinking and an unmatched portfolio of brands."

In terms of new offerings for Foxboro system users, the company highlighted its new modernization program—a tiered set of holistic consulting services designed to help users to strategically identify, justify and prioritize modernization decisions—as well as an expansion of its virtualization offering that is designed to further simplify control system maintenance and streamline project delivery.

Holistic Modernization Support

"Today's manufacturers are facing new, more complicated challenges, even as their equipment and workforce continue to age," explained Dave Gaertner, global consulting director, Invensys Operations Management. "In order to comply with increasingly complex regulatory guidelines, minimize downtime and maintain safe, environmentally friendly operations, many companies are seeking to modernize their plants with a holistic view of their business requirements instead of making like-for-like equipment replacements. Taking advantage of their existing assets, modernization allows companies to link their business and production processes; remove traditional barriers to collaboration; and empower their most valuable resource--their people."

For companies that know they need to modernize existing assets, but do not know where to begin, Invensys starts with an assessment to understand the company's business initiatives and issues. The input received is then used to develop a long-range strategic plan that meets the plant's business and technology needs. As part of the assessment, Invensys also helps clients establish return-on-investment targets.

"Invensys consultants carefully reviewed our issues and the results we wanted to achieve, then they quantified them based on information such as replacement power costs and other forms of ROI," said Mike Hull, a computer controls supervisor at Arizona-based Salt River Project, the third-largest public power utility in the United States. "Furthermore, Invensys evaluated which of their products and services could address these issues and achieve our desired results. Invensys Operations Management's modernization program is a game-changer in the industry."

Virtualization Speeds Delivery

Invensys also announced the extension of its software virtualization offering to include its Foxboro I/A Series operator consoles and distributed control applications. With a focus on lowering total cost of ownership and promoting overall project delivery excellence, the new offerings are intended to help customers cut implementation costs while delivering projects more quickly and predictably.

"Unlike automation software alone, control and safety systems are more frequently delivered to manufacturing customers as turnkey solutions when the customer undertakes an installation or an upgrade," said Gary Freburger, systems business president. "On average, those projects take six to 18 months to complete, depending on their size and complexity. However, virtualizing many of our control solutions, including our Intelligent Marshalling and Intelligent Engineering workbench solutions, significantly reduces implementation costs, cuts project risks, improves scheduling and enhances change agility throughout the project lifecycle. It not only shortens the implementation process, it improves collaboration across the implementation team."

"We call it Intelligent Project Execution," explained Grant LeSuer, director product development, indicating the time-saving interplay among Invensys' virtualization, configurable I/O and collaborative engineering solutions. "We've de-coupled I/O installation from design, project engineering from geography and location, and software from hardware. Virtualization breaks all these links."

"This represents an important step forward for Invensys and the industry," added Barry Young, principal analyst, ARC Advisory Group. "Invensys' new offering supports a three-point strategy that simplifies efforts and reduces risk when delivering major turnkey projects. This end-to-end concept stands to radically alter the way the industry works with major project customers because it provides greater change agility, more scheduling advantages and deeper collaboration across the implementation team when addressing change orders and meeting production deadlines."

About the Author

Keith Larson | Group Publisher

Keith Larson is group publisher responsible for Endeavor Business Media's Industrial Processing group, including Automation World, Chemical Processing, Control, Control Design, Food Processing, Pharma Manufacturing, Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing, Processing and The Journal.