Saturday, September 4, 2010

Automation publication changes hands

Hardly had we heared the news of the changing of the guard at Industrial Automation Insider (IAI) on the European side of the Atlantic than news reached us of another change this time on the North American continent. Nick Denbow has just taken over from Andrew Bond at IAI in England and now we learn that the leading Automation publication in Canada, Manufacturing AUTOMATION magazine, has been acquired from CLB Media Inc. by Annex Publishing & Printing, a business publisher based in Simcoe, (Ont CDN).

As Bob Dylon might say, "The winds they are a changing..." but it appears that no big changes are envisiged. Mary Del Ciancio, the editor and Klaus Pirker , who's the publisher - "are excited to join the Annex family, and look forward to continuing to execute our mandate of being the go-to resource for Canada's manufacturing and industrial automation community." according to a statement on the website.

"Over time, nuances of the transition will begin to emerge, but concerning our products and commitment to you - our readers and partners - it's full steam ahead. Annex has proven itself a forward-thinking, strategically driven publisher of business publications in Canada, and is well-positioned to take Manufacturing AUTOMATION to the next level."

Several other publications from the same family were also taken over by Annex. It wull be interesting to see how they will mesh with the motley of publications already in the Annex stable like The Bakers Journal, Canadian Chiropractor and the fascinating Manure Manager, though to be fair they do have some technical publications too in the water and environmental areas.

It is good that the future of important automation publications, wherever based, are assured as a vital part of the discipline of instrumentation, control and automation. And it is good to see that publishing houses like Annex are willing to invest in the future especially in these changing times.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cloud computing


ISA-France, the French section of the International Society of Automation, are holding a technical day on cloud computing: "Cloud Computing: Buzzword or change of paradigm".

This event is been organised in co-operation with SEE (Société de l'Electricité, de l'Electronique et des Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication). The day will be held in Paris on 13th October 2010. Program and registration form can be downloaded from ISA France website.

On this occasion, ISA-France has released 2 versions, one in French and the other in English, of their newsletter ISA Flash on the possible evolution of control systems incorporating an increasing reliance on "cloud computing". These maybe downloaded here: ISA Flash (En français) or ISA Flash (in English)

Safe lights

STAHL's new safety features wins order.

Douglas Control & Automation has won a large order for STAHL's New Emergency Light Fittings which have additional safety features.

They have recently supplied over 350 STAHL lights to a Cork (IRL) based Pharmaceutical company, who are replacing all existing emergency fittings in their Zone 1 production buildings.

While price is a factor in projects of this size, Declan Lordan of Douglas Control & Automation said "The new safety feature, which lights the second tube if the first tube fails to start during an emergency was another important reason why STAHL fittings were selected. This increases it reliability and reduces the urgency to change a failed tube in the fitting."

Douglas has an agreement with STAHL, whose products the distribute in Ireland, to offer a limited quantity of special priced fittings to companies wishing to install and evaluate these new 6008 range of light fittings.

Multi-channel wireless sensor system

Deeter Electronics has introduced a new Multi-Channel Wireless Sensor System for more complex installations. The new system permits the monitoring of greater numbers of remote devices than was previously possible and can display the state of up to eight analogue sensors and up to thirty two switched inputs.

The new Multi-Channel Wireless Sensor System is connected from the Base Station to a personal computer by an RS485 to USB adaptor. On the host computer Deeter Data Viewer Software displays the outputs of up to eight analogue inputs and up to thirty two switched inputs from as many as eight sensor nodes which can be multi-input Deeter Wireless Senders or Deeter Wireless LVCS-RF Liquid Vertical Continuous Sensors.

The Deeter Data Viewer application runs under Windows™ and provides a means of viewing the outputs from multiple sensor nodes by interpreting the data stream from the Base Station’s serial communications port. The Data Viewer visualises the performance of the Base Station and it is the best way to utilise all the features of the Deeter Wireless Sensor System. It permits the user to view the inputs from multiple sensor nodes (Deeter Wireless Senders or LVCS-RF), change the settings in the Base Station and network, record the sensor data-stream, monitor and record network events and monitor remote sensor battery voltages.

Up to eight Deeter Wireless Senders can be used per Multi-Channel Base Station, each take the input from either a resistive potentiometric sensor or any 4-20mA device, and up to four switched inputs. This gives a total of up to eight analogue inputs and up to thirty two switched inputs. Deeter LVCS-RF (Liquid Vertical Continuous Sensors RF) can also be used as sensor nodes. Up to eight LVCS-RF sensors can be used per Multi-channel Wireless Base Station. A combination of Senders and LVCS-RF can be used up to the maximum of eight sensor nodes.

The simple-to-use Deeter Base Station receives the data from remote wireless devices and acts as the coordinator for an IEEE 802.15.4 wireless sensor network. It operates on one of 16 radio frequency channels available in the 2.4GHz ISM band. The internationally recognised IEEE 802.15.4 protocol allows several wireless sensor networks to share the same wireless spectrum without interference.

To increase the range of the Deeter Wireless Sensor System or overcome adverse environmental conditions one or more Deeter Wireless Routers may be added to the wireless network. The use of multiple Deeter Wireless Routers creates a highly reliable self-healing wireless mesh network.

Additionally, 3m antenna extension kits can be used to raise the antenna higher, further away from obstacles found at ground level which also serves to improve signal strength.

Peter Whiteaker, Managing Director of Deeter Electronics, comments: "The launch of our Wireless Sensor System has been met with great interest. It provides a highly cost effective wireless monitoring solution for a large number of smaller industrial monitoring applications. We have now received a number of customer requests for a greater number of input channels and we are very pleased to introduce our new Multi-Channel system.”

Deeter Wireless Sensor Network products are housed in rugged ABS enclosures with external antennas. Cable glands are provided for power input and signal outputs and they come complete with external, wall mounted, universal AC input power supplies.

Sensing for servo Repairs

Reliability and robustness were the key requirements when Wyko Industrial Services (now Eriks UK) set about building a test and calibration rig for its servomotor repair business in Aintree near Liverpool (GB). They based their design on a non-contact torque sensor that could effectively be isolated from damaging shock loads.

“We knew the rig would be in virtually constant use, so wanted to design out breakdowns as far as possible,” said Vic Harris Wyko’s Director for Electronic Developments. “Unexpected stoppages would be disruptive to us, but potentially disastrous to our customers who often run 24 hours a day and therefore need to manage their spares and repairs with military precision.”
Wyko’s clients include BAE, transmission giants Ford Getrag and several of the food processing majors, alongside many smaller companies.

Basically the rig runs the test motors against a 22kW DC spindle motor controlled by a Sprint Electric four quadrant DC drive which is switchable between ‘speed’ and ‘torque’ modes to give both back driving and load testing capabilities. Back driving is very important because it lets Wyko capture the set up data for each servo motor before it is dismantled, which in turn makes recalibration quick and simple.

Harris says he selected a TorqSense non-contact sensor, made by Sensor Technology, because it was the most advanced solution he could find and its non-contact characteristic protects it from many forms of physical damage that could result from sudden load changes.
“The torque sensor is rated at 20Nm and can take 400 per cent overload, so it can cope with just about anything it is ever likely to experience on our rig. To be extra safe we have mounted it using Fenner spider coupling on both shafts, with the rubber inserts selected to take the sting out of any unforeseen loads or sudden pressures.”

TorqSense monitors the shaft under test using a RF transmission head, which both supplies power to and picks up signals from two tiny piezo ceramic combs attached to the shaft. Rotational torque in the shaft contracts or stretches the combs, altering their RF emission signals in proportion to the torque experienced.

In fact this arrangement utilises Raleigh Waves, or Surface Effect Waves, physical phenomena identified by experimental physicist Lord Raleigh over 100 years ago when he was trying to simulate and analyse earthquakes.

“Sensor Technology also supplied us with a software suite, TorqView2, which interprets the sensor’s output signal in real time and presents it in ease-to-understand graphic form. It also logs and analyses the data, so we can print out a pass certificate for each tested motor.”

Expanded range of programmable DC power supplies includes 800 V model

TTi Distribution are now distributing the Sorensen SG Series of programmable power supplies expanded to include a 0-800 V DC offering. This expanded voltage range makes the unit ideally suited to use in applications such as test systems for hybrid vehicles and power inverters.

The SG Series is available with 5 kW, 10 kW or 15 kW power ratings in a 3U chassis, allowing up to five units to be paralleled for a maximum system power of 75 kW. Paralleled units operate like a single supply.

The SG Series is designed for exceptional load transient response and low noise, and provides the highest power density in the industry. This power density is complemented by a stylish front air intake that allows supplies to be stacked without any minimum clearance between units.

The Sorensen SG Series is available in two control versions: SGA with basic analogue controls and SGI with intelligent control features. The SGI version combines onboard intelligent controls with high-performance power electronics that enable sophisticated sequencing, constant power mode and save/recall of instrument settings. Looping of sequences can also be implemented, making the SGI ideal for repetitive testing.

The SG Series features a high-quality vacuum fluorescent graphical display in eight languages, context-sensitive 'soft' keys, a front-panel keyboard, simplified programming, and an RS-232 interface.

The SGA version is suited for those customers requiring simple front-panel analogue controls or external control. It has the same high-performance power electronics as the SGI, and includes features such as 10-turn potentiometers for setting voltage and current and a 3½-digit LED readout.

Both the SGA and SGI offer optional LXI Class C Ethernet or IEEE-488.2 interfaces.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Security breakthrough for OPC-based industrial automation

New Tofino® OPC Enforcer technology secures any system using classic OPC, the world’s most widely used industrial integration protocol
Byres Security has released the new Tofino OPC Enforcer firewall, part of the Tofino Industrial Security Solution. This new module locks down any industrial network using the previously hard to secure OPC Classic protocol. Using deep packet inspection firewall technology, the Tofino OPC Enforcer provides superior security over what can be achieved with conventional firewall solutions. The result is improved network reliability, availability and security for any process control or SCADA company using OPC.

Byres Security have published an OPC Feature Page, which is a hub of information on OPC and security, and includes a link to download the new White Paper titled “Securing Your OPC Classic Control System” written by me and Thomas J. Burke, President of the OPC Foundation.
OPC Classic is widely used in control systems as an interoperability solution, interfacing control applications from multiple vendors. Unfortunately, as numerous studies show, the technologies underlying it were designed before network security issues were widely understood. As a result, OPC Classic has been almost impossible to secure until now.

Thomas J. Burke, the president of the OPC Foundation, notes; The Tofino OPC Enforcer is an important innovation and a great solution for all the systems that currently use OPC Classic – approximately 90% of all industrial networks”.

While the OPC Foundation is working hard to get its new and more secure OPC-UA technology into the market place, it will be years, if not decades, before all legacy OPC DA, HAD and A&E installations are replaced. In the meantime, the Tofino product addresses the security gap by providing a plug-n-protect solution that can be deployed in minutes without changes to existing OPC systems.

The Tofino OPC Enforcer provides two important benefits to control systems users:
  1. It provides robust security and stability for any system using OPC DA, HAD or A&E, thus preventing industrial network attacks and accidents. Unlike other firewalls, this product inspects, tracks and secures every connection made by an OPC application, opening only the exact TCP port required for a connection between an OPC client and server.

  2. It is implemented without any control system changes. The Tofino hardware is simply installed into the live network and configured using a drag and drop editor to select permitted clients and servers. Once installed, network security is assured, with all OPC traffic managed behind the scenes.
The recent Stuxnet worm attacks against Siemens HMIs and PLC systems has highlighted the need for better security on the plant floor. At the same time, many incidents result from internal network problems.

“Past industrial shutdowns, for example, haven’t been caused by hackers. Instead they were the result of badly configured software causing traffic storms that impacted critical controllers and other systems,” said Eric Byres, security expert and Chief Technical Officer at Byres Security. “The Tofino OPC Enforcer LSM does much more than block hackers and viruses from accessing automation systems. Its dynamic port management techniques prevent many basic network problems from spreading throughout a plant or SCADA system.”

Availability and Requirements
The Tofino OPC Enforcer is available now from Byres Security and from leading automation industrial suppliers MTL Instruments and Belden / Hirschmann. It requires the Tofino Security Appliance, the Tofino Central Management Platform and the Tofino Firewall LSM. The technology will also be available as a stand-alone appliance, the Triconex Tofino Firewall from Invensys Operations Management in Q4 2010.

Guide to alarm management

The definitive guide to best practices for effective alarm management and a concise summary of the new ISA standard

PAS has recently published the second edition of The Alarm Management Handbook by Eddie Habibi, PAS Founder and CEO, and Bill Hollifield, PAS Alarm Management Principal Consultant. It is the most comprehensive best-practices book available for designing and maintaining an effective alarm management system.

Ineffective alarm systems continue to haunt the processing and power industries worldwide, contributing to plant upsets and shutdowns. Alarm management improvement has been identified by many industrial companies as a critical business and safety improvement imperative in recent years. In response to this market need, PAS published the first edition of The Alarm Management Handbook in 2006. With the release of the new ANSI/ISA-18.2-2009 Management of Alarm Systems for the Process Industries, PAS has updated the book to incorporate the ideas presented in it. This new standard sets forth the work processes for designing, implementing, operating, and maintaining a modern alarm system in a life-cycle format. The 2nd edition includes a summary of the standard’s scope, regulatory impact, requirements, recommendations, and other details.

The new edition also includes much additional practical information on benchmarking alarm system performance, developing a comprehensive alarm philosophy, solving nuisance alarm problems, performing alarm rationalization, implementing advanced alarm handling techniques, and improving the operator HMI for optimum situation awareness and incident mitigation.

“The Alarm Management Handbook is a very practical guide to implementing an alarm management program, presented in a unique and entertaining style,” says Nicholas P. Sands, ISA-18 Co-Chair. “This edition provides new information, and ties the guidance in the previous edition to the new ISA-18.2 standard.”

Complex motion applications improvments

Motion controller can control up to 40 axes of synchronized motion at extremely fast loop rates

GE Intelligent Platforms has launched its advanced motion controller, PACMotion firmware version 1.5. PACMotion is designed to control up to 40 axes of synchronized motion all at the exact same servo update loop rate of 1ms independent of the number of motion axes. With this announcement, GE is making PACMotion the motion controller of choice in a host of new areas, including packaging, material handling, and automated assembly. By enabling connectivity to a wider variety of off-the-shelf devices, users will find PACMotion available to serve many more applications, which can lead to lower system cost.

Firmware version 1.5 features two axis analog servo control allowing control of one or two third-party amplifiers using a 10 VDC analog speed or torque command. A PACMotion module controls four axes, and each module can use two of those axes for third-party servos through this upgrade. Mixing of FANUC and analog axes on the same PACMotion module is also supported.

“This new version will allow users to connect a much broader range of devices to the exceptional functionality of PACMotion,” said Paul Derstine, Product Manager for GE Intelligent Platforms’ Control and Communications Systems. “There are times when a custom motor, linear actuator or linear hydraulic servo valve is required in an application. At other times in a machine retrofit, the servos are already in place and do not need to be replaced. This new firmware will open options for PACMotion to be used in many different areas to control machines enabling cost saving for the OEM on new machines by using lower cost servos and on field retrofits by enabling the reuse of existing servos.”

Program access to the event queue provides the machine operator with the ability to obtain diagnostic/troubleshooting information on the operator interface. Because customers need access to the most recent sequence of events/errors rather than the last axis or module error, this enhancement allows users to access the event queue data right within the program, without the need of accessing via Proficy® Machine Edition on a personal computer. The chronological sequence of the events is preserved aiding users in determining the exact sequence of events leading up to an error or machine shutdown. Access to such real-time sequential event data enables faster diagnosis of machine or line stoppages yielding increased machine uptime and enhanced productivity.

Several enhancements to PACMotion’s powerful cam functionality allow for tighter synchronization of axes. The Cam Load-Data feature allows exact positioning of all slave axes relative to the current position of the master prior to machine start-up rather than having to ramp slave axes to synchronize with the master. Ensuring precise synchronization can reduce product scrap at the beginning of a production run improving production yield. The new Cam Exit Distance feature enhances the flexibility of the cam feature by allowing for controlled exiting of a cam profile at a predetermined master position along the profile path. Exiting a cam before the end of the profile provides greater dynamic control flexibility to respond to machine or line events such as a jam or product changeover preventing additional product loss of production down time.

“GE’s PACMotion is the motion controller of choice for OEMs that need an integrated motion and machine logic solution. The proven dependability of GE products allows them to deliver unprecedented productivity in their machines through increased productivity, flexibility, and reliability. Unique features such the PACcore multi-processor architecture allows simultaneous updating of any number of axes with no performance degradation, on-demand data exchange providing real-time access to motion data asynchronous to the logic program scan and the ability to change nearly any motion parameter on the fly (even during a move) provides a powerful solution for complex motion control,” Derstine said.

More choice in controllers

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has released three additions to the UTAdvanced® controller series: the UP55A and UP35A program controllers and the UM33A digital indicator with alarms. Completing the UTAdvanced series, these new products give Yokogawa's customers greater choice in configuring systems and support a wider range of applications.

Development background
Indicating controllers are instruments that measure and display temperature, pressure, flow rate, and other types of data, and also display data on equipment operation. They are mounted on and control the operation of relatively small-scale stand-alone devices like industrial furnaces and semiconductor manufacturing machines.

The UTAdvanced controllers were first developed and introduced by Yokogawa in 2009, and have been primarily used in applications that involve the control of fixed values within preset targets. In response to the rising need for such controllers in other types of applications, Yokogawa has developed three new products. The UP55A and UP35A program controllers carry out programmed pattern control (control over time according to a preset pattern), and the UM33A digital indicator outputs an alarm when an input signal reaches a preset value.

Product features
1. UP55A and UP35A program controllers
· Support of the PROFIBUS-DP and CC-Link industrial communication protocols has been added. This allows these controllers to be connected with a wider range of PLCs, which are often mounted on other devices, and gives customers the flexibility to build an optimal multivendor system.
· In response to the needs of customers who wish to program patterns at a PLC, the processing of program data from PLCs has been speeded up.

2. UM33A digital indicator with alarms
· This digital indicator now has eight alarm outputs and eight screen display points, twice the number of the previous model.
· A dedicated program eases the task of entering alarm values and other information, eliminating the need to input them using the keys on the front panel of each device.

UTAdvanced digital indicating controllers come standard with a sequence control function based on the ladder logic programming language, which is widely used by engineers. This product series improves design efficiency and reduces costs by eliminating the need for relays and other types of peripheral devices, and has enjoyed great success in the market. These controllers can be used to build systems that rely on various industrial communication protocols such as PROFIBUS-DP and CC-Link.These standard communication protocols are widely used with field devices; PROFIBUS DP and CC-Link are registered trademarks of the PROFIBUS User Organisation and the CC-Link Partner Association, respectively.

Main target markets
Key target markets are production-line operations in industries such as electrical equipment, machinery, chemicals, foods, semiconductors, and automobiles; and companies that design, build, and maintain air conditioning, power, and other types of in-plant facilities

Applications
Include the measurement, display, and control of temperature, pressure, and flow rate in research and development facilities and manufacturing operations, including heat treatment, washing and sterilising.

Evolving wireless technology drives growth in World comms test services market

The increasing complexity of wireless networks, bolstered by the constant introduction of technologies demanding obscure skills, has greatly enhanced the need for communication test services. Because standards in the communications market are constantly evolving, triggering the improvement of test equipment and corresponding services, suppliers should improve their service portfolio to address volatile market conditions and the subsequent needs of end users.

World Communication Test Services Market is part of the Test & Measurement Growth Partnership Services programme, which also includes research in the following markets: World Gigabit Ethernet Test Equipment Market, World Triple Play and Next Generation Services Test and Monitoring Equipment Market, and World Wireless Test Equipment Market for I&M. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, World Communication Test Services Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $472.2 million in 2009 and estimates this to reach $677.9 million in 2015. The end users covered in this research service include network equipment manufacturers (NEMs), service providers (SPs) and enterprises.

“SPs opine that the demand for test services in wireless technologies is greater than that of wireline technologies, due to their complexity and susceptibility to problems,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Prathima Bommakanti. “Likewise, the need for test services is expected to increase as wireless networks continue to become more complicated.”

Due to the introduction of long-term evolution (LTE) and worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMAX) technologies in the network, the overall complexity of networks is escalating. This is particularly evident in the operation stage and during the transition of technology in the network. Moreover, the deployment of LTE and WiMAX is likely to increase the service requirements of operators as they are expected to incorporate mobile broadband, video-on-demand and other high-speed services that will boost the revenues for network operators.

One of the most consistent trends has been to offer voice over Internet protocol (VOIP), data centre and Internet protocol television (IPTV) instead of an integrated triple-play network. However, with SPs transitioning from separate voice, video or data services to integrated triple-play services, there is a need for equipment and services to test and monitor networks that supply voice, video and data simultaneously.

Despite promising potential, the economic downturn significantly hindered the growth of the total world communication test services market. Capital budgets remain tight, as SPs, NEMs and small and large enterprises attempt to generate more revenues out of their existing networks, creating a delay in their purchasing decisions. Likewise, vendors should assure the return on investment (ROI) for services offered, as end users have reduced capital expenditure (CAPEX)/operating expenses (OPEX) budgets.

“Providing superior services that match customer requirements at competitive prices is one of the key challenges faced by suppliers in the total world communication test services market,” explains Bommakanti.

Tempearture Calibrators upgraded

In a relaunch and upgrading of their CS series calibration sources, the new enhanced range from Eurolec comprises of three dry block “black body” sources for calibration with a temperature control system and a pocket for a reference thermometer. A selection of probe holes at the rear provides options for contact/probe thermometer accuracy checking and the ‘black body’ at the front provides a means of checking infrared non-contact thermometers. Model CS173 features a range of +30.0 to +199.0°C and models CS174 & CS175 feature a range of 40.0°C below ambient (approx. -20°C) to +85.0°C.

In addition, all models feature a 2 position Precision Accuracy Check (PAC) function where at the touch of a switch, the accuracy of the unit is confirmed at 2 preset points. All models also include an RS232 output socket – USB output is an option. Model CS175 features0.01C resolution and± 0.05C accuracy. For precision accuracy checking over an extended range, precision reference thermometers RT162 or PC Temp RT2 kits with 0.01C resolution are recommended. These thermometer kits are supplied complete with a System Calibration Certificate traceable to UKAS.

These innovative units avoid the inconvenience and time lost due to external calibration; are quick and easy to use and will provide considerable cost savings when compared with external or contracted on-site temperature calibration.

Wireless & battery free alliance!

The S4 group has joined the EnOcean Alliance.

EnOcean and EnOcean Alliance members have developed a wide range of wireless and battery free sensors, switches, controllers, and actuators. Because all members of the alliance follow the same set of standards all products are interoperable.

There are multiple BACnet to EnOcean gateways available today but none of them provide full functionality and bi-directional support. S4 plans to deliver a BACnet-EnOcean Router and associated EnOcean Hotspot technology that will enable all EnOcean domains in a building to be brought together as enterprise assets utilizing BACnet IP.

The high level design has been completed for some time. They’ve recently put a lot of effort mapping BACnet functionality into EnOcean telegrams to identify places where there are challenges in offering full functionality in the gateway. Their findings have been shared with the BACnet wireless working group and with the EnOcean Alliance and we are all working together to find the best path to providing this service. The major areas needing work include:

  • Providing support for devices that are inactive except when an external stimulus generates the energy to make the device operational.
  • Providing an Override and Release mechanism within the EnOcean technology.
  • Emulating the Priority Array within the gateway.

As part of the membership in the EnOcean Alliance they will be helping to mold the direction of the EnOcean technology by working with the technical working groups. Their experience in building the OPC-N2 Router and BACnet-N2 Router has paved the way for this project and helped to identify areas where additional planning and coordination are needed.

They have completed a paper that is being published by the EnOcean Alliance in multiple languages. The paper takes the concepts introduced in our Connected World Conference presentation and expands them in greater detail to discuss the benefits of integrating the BACnet and EnOcean protocols through a gateway. After that paper is edited and published they are to publish it on their web site.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Collaboration for better quality water while using 10 % to 15% less energy

Goal is to increase the effectiveness of the municipal drinking water distribution network

GE Intelligent Platforms has signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) focusing on connecting dissimilar data sources into a software-based platform that improves decision making capabilities across a water system. The solution is expected to increase the effectiveness of a distribution network for the delivery of better quality water while potentially using 10% to 15% less energy.

“The availability of safe, reliable drinking water has proven to be the foundation of sustainable economic and cultural growth in every society in history,” said Alan Hinchman, Global Industry Manager Water/Wastewater for GE Intelligent Platforms. “With this agreement, GE and the U.S. EPA will work with third parties to create a sensor-based, data-driven, and software-assisted system for drinking water distributions. The goal would be to optimize water quality improvement and minimize energy usage. By doing so, the product could assist water utilities and other end users with ‘greener’ distribution network operations and enhanced regulatory compliance.”

The U.S. EPA regulates drinking water quality under the 1974 landmark legislation, Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The legislation resulted in continuing research in the areas of modeling, monitoring, and engineering control on water quality changes, network design and operations.

“The U.S. municipal water industry collectively consumes 4% of the total U.S. power generation,” said Thomas Speth, Acting Division Director for NRMRL’s Water Supply and Water Resources Division in Cincinnati. “Therefore one of the goals of this CRADA is to reduce energy consumption by 10% to 15%, which will have a positive impact on reducing green house gas emissions. Also since electrical generation is the largest water user in the U.S., the reduction in demand would help better manage water resources.”

The project seeks to transfer past and ongoing R&D results, as well as intellectual properties of all of the parties, into real-world applications. These technological advances will be further developed and integrated with proprietary technologies that GE and PDA Design, a Greer, South Carolina-based green technology think tank and solution provider, have related to sensor networking, wireless and wire-based multi-platform data communication protocols, real-time process equipment control, data warehousing and mining technologies. Further integration and development, implemented by these parties, will be focused on energy reduction and water quality protections.

“Today’s U.S. water system is running on aging, disparate technology and a crumbling infrastructure that experts predict is in need of $600B in replacements and repairs,” said Hinchman. “Since most utilities expanded and automated over a 30-year period while technology was rapidly advancing, many were left with a combination of different automation equipment creating an environment for information silos that make it impossible to share information with plant operators.”

It is the intent of this CRADA to develop a cost effective commercially viable solution for predictive real-time energy and quality monitoring/control platform in municipal drinking water distribution. The solution will feature:

  • Open communication architectures featuring Ethernet networking for high availability and bandwidth to transfer large amounts of information or quickly stream small amount of data frequently.
  • Support of mixed systems for interconnection with existing equipment and to allow for stage deployment or upgrades.
  • Scalable deployment employing a building block method of interconnecting software and hardware product that offer their own value equation individually and large value collectively, will allow for faster market acceptance.
  • Sensible node cost to maximize the value of the technology and leverage numerous methods of data collection including simple data collectors and low cost instrumentation. Software calculation functionality will also allow for the approximation of missing data sources.
  • Dual purposing to ensure drinking water quality at a decrease cost. Energy savings and water quality are linked and must both be controlled and monitored per US EPA standards. To achieve this both energy and water quality are to be monitored and controlled.

As a leader in the Water industry, GE’s Proficy software and PACSystems controllers will be at the heart of the technology solution which is expected to go into pilot testing in late 2010. Proficy is an example of how GE’s $4 billion-a-year software and solutions services businesses are helping customers improve productivity.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

MES upgrade announced

Yokogawa releases Real-time Production Organizer™ R1.02

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has released the R1.02 upgrade to Real-time Production Organizer™ (RPO). RPO is a suite of manufacturing execution system (MES) platform packages that integrate the vertical production execution workflow across departments and empower decision makers to organise their work quickly and efficiently. With the R1.02 upgrade, RPO now includes Workflow Composer VP, a newly released package that supports the use of Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) and is used together with enhanced versions of Production Instructor VP and Production Supervisor VP as well as third party packages to standardise and automate business processes.

Development background
Today's plant operations need to be flexible enough to deal with the challenges of changing feed materials and market demands; however, there are many barriers in business processes that impede the flow of information between plant areas, posing serious challenges to agile plant operations. These barriers arise for the following reasons:

- Poor information integrity due to insufficient MES connectivity
- Information resolution gaps that cause misalignment between enterprise resource planning (ERP) and MES
- Lack of proper tools for closing loops in business focused manufacturing.

To address these needs and achieve its vision for Production Excellence based on VigilantPlant® and the CENTUM® VP platform, Yokogawa developed RPO. In June 2009, Yokogawa released Production Instructor VP for task execution management and Production Supervisor VP for key performance indicator (KPI) monitoring. Now, Workflow Composer VP has been released to support system integration with the Production Instructor VP and Production Supervisor VP packages.

Product features
1. Workflow Composer VP (new)

With its support of BPMN, Workflow Composer VP enables the standardisation of business work processes and organises their execution. Workflow Composer VP has the following features:

- The implementation of sequential flows can be defined using logic objects including Web services, e-mail, relational database access, and scripting.
- Interactive manual entry or confirmation can be performed using an RPO "E-form" on a Web browser.
- The monitoring console provides execution status information and debugging assistance, and enables manual interventions for the suspension, resumption, or termination of a business process.

2. Production Instructor VP (enhanced)
Production Instructor VP issues template-based or manual work orders for correct and prompt execution, monitoring, and analysis to identify best practices. The enhanced features of Production Instructor VP are as follows:

- Allows the customisation of task detail and shift handover report forms
- Has an extended OPC interface for process data collection
- Enables the control of sub-task execution sequences
- Supports up to 100 custom data fields

3. Production Supervisor VP (enhanced)
Production Supervisor VP is used to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time on a role-based Web dashboard. The enhanced features of Production Supervisor VP are as follows:

- Includes general grid, rich trend, and period comparison chart Web components
- Supports the use of a generic relational database adaptor and a Web service interface
- Enables dynamic changes to KPI limits from an external system

Main target markets and applications are plant production and operation management in industries such as refining, petrochemicals, and chemicals

VigilantPlant® is Yokogawa's automation concept for safe, reliable, and profitable plant operations. It aims to enable an ongoing state of Operational Excellence where plant personnel are watchful and attentive, well-informed, and ready to take actions that optimise plant and business performance. This initiative eliminates unplanned downtime, improves asset utilisation, and allows businesses to adapt to shifting market conditions quickly and efficiently. Based on this concept, Yokogawa launched Safety Excellence solutions in 2005, Asset Excellence solutions in 2006, and Production Excellence solutions in 2007.

CENTUM® VP is their newest integrated production control system, launched in 2008. This takes the VigilantPlant initiative to its next evolutionary step, integrating the three excellence solutions into one Operational Excellence platform.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Radar level with FF

Radar level transmitter now comes with Foundation Fieldbus

Siemens Industry Automation Division has added Foundation Fieldbus certified communications to the Sitrans LR250 radar level transmitter. Sitrans LR250 comes complete with Enhanced EDD (Electronic Device Description) and is equipped with a Quick Start Wizard for fast commissioning.

For commissioning via handheld devices, i.e, 375/475, basic EDD is also supported. Sitrans LR250 is also available with either Hart or Profibus PA communications.

The compact plug-and-play 25 Gigahertz 2-wire device Sitrans LR250 is the easiest to install and quickest to configure radar transmitter available today. The level of liquids or slurries can be accurately and reliably measured in minutes. The transmitter can be used in general applications, but is also suitable for chemical, pharmaceutical and hydrocarbon processing applications, including corrosive environments.

UART and CAN modules to support the extended system peripheral needs of developers

Furthering its initiatives on Texas Instruments (TI) platforms, Mistral has announced daughter cards for TI evaluation modules (EVMs) based on TI’s Sitara™ AM1x microprocessors (MPUs) and OMAP-L1x application processors for embedded industrial, medical and consumer designs.

These TI platforms address customer concerns of cost, connectivity, power efficiency and ease of development of applications by providing a platform with robust operating systems support, rich user interfaces and high processing performance. These processors feature a unique rich peripheral sub-system known as the Programmable Real-time Unit (PRU). The PRU sub-system consists of dual 32-bit RISC processors, specifically designed for manipulation of packed memory mapped data structures and for implementing system features that have tight real-time constraints. It offers flexible and configurable input/output controls, enabling developers to extend peripheral capabilities and add custom interfaces to their designs.

Mistral offers two plug-in daughter cards helping developers leverage the benefits of the PRU features on the AM1x and OMAP-L1x processors:Mistral has worked extensively on TI’s leading technology platforms, providing professional services in the areas of custom board design, reference designs, driver development, board support packages and software integration across various technology domains.

“Mistral has been in the forefront of providing a host of well-received offerings on TI platforms,” said Samyeer Metrani, Vice President, Services (USA), Mistral. “Our two daughter cards for TI’s AM1x and OMAP-L1x lines of processors allow developers to leverage the PRU functionality, thereby helping customers build solutions targeted at the industrial and automotive markets. Mistral will also offer development and customization services to customers planning to build next-generation devices around the Sitara and OMAP platforms.”

“TI is committed to offering resources to help make development easier for our customers’ hardware and software engineers,” said Seán Murphy, Marketing Manager, Sitara, TI. “By working with Mistral to develop the daughter cards and software, customers can enjoy benefits including low customer development costs and improved connectivity. The daughter cards enable customers to eliminate the development cycle from the design process by providing the source code for the PRU, enabling the cards to be easily snapped onto the EVMs for extra capabilities, ultimately allowing for a shortened time to market from faster proto-typing.”