Tuesday 30 September 2014

Quality panel meters recognised by readers!

Red Lion Controls has once again been honoured for its versatile, high-quality panel meters by Control Design Readers' Choice Awards 2014. 

This is the 14th consecutive year that readers of Control Design – key decision-makers within manufacturing facilities that produce a broad range of products, including turbines, conveyors, machine tools, food processing equipment and more – have voted for Red Lion as the top provider of panel meters in the industry.

“Being consistently recognised by the readership of Control Design underscores our commitment to offering the most reliable panel meters in the industry,” said Jesse Benefiel, vice president of product management at Red Lion Controls. “Our industrial automation and networking products have earned the trust and approval of our customers worldwide, and we strive to continue delivering leading technology and responsive technical service to best meet their requirements.”

Control Design sent questionnaires to approximately 15,000 magazine subscribers who work directly with industrial automation and control products. The questionnaire included an unaided ballot in which participants were asked to identify the vendors that came to mind in response to the questions. Respondents selected Red Lion’s name from memory or experience, not from multiple-choice questions, further validating the company’s products and services. Only companies that received at least five percent of the category vote were recognized. Since the survey began 2001, Red Lion has consistently dominated the panel meter category.

“Our Readers' Choice Awards balloting puts the decision-making where it rightly belongs: in the capable hands of Control Design technology users,” says Joe Feeley, editor-in-chief of Control Design. “We ask participants to name the company that provides them the best controls and automation technology value, based on their own user experiences. Clearly our audience sees great value in the panel meter products and service that Red Lion Controls supplies. “

With almost 4 million panel meters sold since the company’s inception, Red Lion’s range of digital and analog input meters is the most comprehensive in the industry. Red Lion panel meters easily accommodate a wide range of applications through varying models, inputs, sizes and other capabilities. From compact CUB indicators to versatile PAX process meters, Red Lion provides flexibility that allows customers to seamlessly add or change capabilities with plug-and-play field installable option cards.

• Red Lion products are marketed in Ireland by Instrument Technology!

Engineer shortlisted for Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards!

Lucy Ackland (26), a Project Manager in Renishaw’s Additive Manufacturing Products Division working on the company’s next generation of metal 3D printing machines, has been shortlisted for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman of the Year Awards. 

Lucy Ackland
She started her career as a mechanical engineering apprentice and has progressed through a variety of roles whilst being supported by Renishaw to achieve further engineering qualifications on a day release basis. In 2012 she achieved a first class honours degree in mechanical and manufacturing engineering from the University of South Wales, and in 2014 she was appointed a Board member of the charity Young Engineers

The IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards aim to find female role models to help address the UK science and engineering skills crisis. Lucy Ackland has been shortlisted along with four female engineers from other leading engineering organisations – Ford, Rolls-Royce, ABB Ltd and Selex ES.

Lucy said: “I am thrilled to have made it this far in a competition that includes so many brilliant high achieving females.” 

“At the age of 13 I was inspired to become an engineer and despite some opposition from those who felt that I should follow a more academic route, I chose to apply for an apprenticeship. I hope that my progress and academic achievements since then can similarly help to inspire other young people to consider engineering as an attractive career option.”

Women currently represent only 6 per cent of the engineering workforce in the UK (source: 2014 IET Skills Survey), the lowest percentage in Europe.

Michelle Richmond, IET Director of Membership, and a former YWE winner, said: “The lack of women in engineering is a huge problem for this country, contributing to skills shortages which threaten the economy. It also means that women are missing out on interesting and rewarding careers.

“The difficulty in attracting women into engineering is down to a combination of things: from the careers advice girls are given in schools, to schools not instilling girls with the confidence to opt for science and maths at A-level, through to employers needing to do more to make their approach to recruitment and retention more female friendly.”

“It’s also a result of the lack of inspirational engineering role models for girls – which is where our Young Woman Engineer of the Year winners can play a vital role by encouraging and inspiring more young girls to become engineers.”

Rugged compact vision system for USB3 vision cameras.

National Instruments has announced a compact solution for high-speed vision applications. The NI CVS-1459RT is a small, rugged vision system with a quad-core Intel Atom processor and two dedicated USB 3.0 ports for USB3 Vision cameras. 

“The NI Compact Vision System is my go-to solution for vision applications where reliability and uptime are key,” said Robert Eastlund, Vice President of Sales for Graftek Imaging Inc. “Now I can leverage the easy connectivity and high throughput of USB3 while taking advantage of new features for high-performance processing and HMI integration. The NI CVS-1459RT enables high-resolution, high-speed industrial vision solutions.” 

The NI CVS-1459RT is programmed with either LabVIEW system design software or Vision Builder for Automated Inspection (AI). Engineers have the option of using LabVIEW FPGA to further customise the FPGA-enabled I/O and tightly synchronise vision inspection results with other parts of industrial systems, such as encoders and proximity sensors. 

The NI CVS-1459RT is based on the LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture, an integral part of the NI graphical system design platform. A modern approach to designing, prototyping and deploying embedded monitoring and control systems, graphical system design combines the open LabVIEW programming environment with commercial off-the-shelf hardware to dramatically simplify development so engineers can combine powerful vision tools, I/O, industrial communication, data logging and human machine interfaces (HMIs) into a single environment. 

Key Benefits 
· The rugged form factor is ideal for industrial applications up to 55 ºC 
· Synchronisation with automation devices for camera and lighting triggering via onboard industrial I/O 
· High-bandwidth camera interface with dual USB 3.0 ports for compatibility with the latest low-cost USB3 Vision cameras; ability to use ports with peripherals such as external storage for logging data 
· Processing power with quad-core Intel Atom processor and 64-bit NI Linux Real-Time OS 

· Board-level versions available for OEM applications 

Universal Power Cell for motor load control!

The innovative range of UPC high performance "Hall Effect" power sensors designed specifically for motor load control applications, is available from Vydas International.

The New "Universal" Power Cell range manufactured by Load Controls Inc (USA) has been designed specifically for precision process monitoring & control and is particularly suitable where variable frequency drives are fitted.

The product is designed to cope with the most difficult of motor load sensing tasks when other power sensors and motor load controls are unable to function reliably. The control of many process machines such as grinders, mills, mixers, rollers, pumps, compressors, conveyers etc may be improved dramatically by sensing true power instead of just current.

There are various models allowing the product to be used in a large number of industries, in fact anywhere that electric motors are used such as the food industry, pharmaceutical, chemical, gas, oil, water treatment, building industries, machine tools and many more. Applications include mixture viscosity, tool condition, optimum feed rate, pump or fan flow, beginning or end of processes, detecting obstructions & overloads or loss of load (prime).

The Universal Power Cell Series includes the original standard UPC with analogue outputs but also the UPC-FR (Fast Response) for machine tool or very fast applications as well as the UPC-E (Ethernet) which has an Ethernet Connection and an analogue output. In addition the UPC-LB is suitable for applications where large cable holes are required.

The standard UPC is particularly suited to mixer "process endpoint detection" where by measuring the power drawn by stirrer or paddle drives, the Power Cell is sensitive enough to detect minute viscosity changes on machines ranging from laboratory sizes to large production machines. Power changes may be used to indicate the start or end of a cycle, viscosity end-point or overload.

In combination with associated KWH3 energy meter and DM100 load meter, the UPC-KWH is suitable for many applications such as “Batch Mixing”, where the sensor accumulates the total power absorbed in the mixing process for consistent production batches. Examples of this are processes such as the mixing of rubber, dough and clay which all respond to energy control.

The UPC is truly "Universal and is unique, and is suitable for any 3 phase, single phase AC or DC motors. The UPC uses fast "Hall Effect" devices and does not use CT’s (current transformers) or external VT’s (voltage transformers) where power measurement errors may occur.

Predictive asset analytics and historian solutions complement and strengthen company’s capabilities in power sector!

Schneider Electric has entered into an agreement to acquire InStep Software, a leading provider of real-time performance management and predictive asset analytics software and solutions. It is the latest acquisition from the company’s growing Software business and deepens its presence in the power and energy market. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2014, subject to customary regulatory and other closing conditions.

Headquartered in Chicago, Ill. and founded in 1995, InStep provides two primary real-time performance management and predictive analytics software solutions. Its eDNA historian software collects, stores, analyzes, displays and reports on real-time operational and machinery sensor data. Its PRiSM predictive analytics software monitors the real-time health and performance of critical assets by using advanced pattern recognition and diagnostic techniques to identify subtle deviations in operating behavior that are often the early warning signs of imminent failures. The company also offers its EBS energy management software, which helps universities reduce their utility costs by analyzing energy consumption and streamlining the utility billing, cost allocation and reporting processes.

“Acquiring InStep Software is indicative of our commitment to delivering game-changing technology and powerful new solutions that improve efficiency, manage risk and drive higher levels of customer value,” said Ravi Gopinath, Ph.D., executive vice president, Schneider Electric Global Solutions, Software Business. “They have a proven, experienced team who are dedicated to helping their customers achieve new levels of value, performance and profitability, and we are delighted to welcome them to Schneider Electric.”

eDNA software strongly complements Schneider Electric’s Wonderware Historian software, and PRiSM software enhances the company’s industry-leading information and asset management software offerings. Many of the world’s most successful companies use InStep’s software products to manage and analyze the rapidly growing amount of real-time operational and machinery asset-health-related information, but its solutions also complement Schneider Electric’s offerings in several other industries, including food & beverage, consumer packaged goods, metals & mining, life sciences and water & wastewater.

“As with other recent acquisitions, InStep Software strengthens our portfolio in targeted industries and segments,” said Rob McGreevy, vice president, information, operations and asset management, Schneider Electric. “Their solutions give us additional, stronger data management and predictive analytics capabilities in the power and energy management industries, including power transmission and distribution, and will help us fulfill our strategic plans around Big Data, the Internet of Things and other emerging trends. With InStep, we strengthen our reputation as an industry game changer, and we are immediately more competitive in traditional process manufacturing, which fits with our overall strategy of improving our access to the utilities market in North America.”

“The emerging technologies for Big Data, analytics, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine and workforce mobility enable new means for improving process quality and equipment reliability while also reducing maintenance costs,” said Ralph Rio, research director at ARC Advisory Group. “InStep’s capabilities for predictive analytics leverage these technology trends and provide clear business value.  When combined with the strengths of Schneider Electric, we expect wider adoption in the power industry, and acceptance in a broader set of other industries where asset reliability and cost control are important.”

“Combined with Schneider Electric’s existing software offerings, our capabilities and expertise in the power and energy segment allow us to provide broader end-to-end visualization, asset management, operations and mobile solutions to our customers,” said John Kalanik, president of InStep Software. “Together, our software products will make it easier to bridge the IT-OT gap, empowering our customers to manage the increasing volume and complexity of their industrial operations. Our customers will continue to work with the same experienced InStep Software team, and we will continue to provide the same exceptional products and services they have come to expect and rely on. With Schneider Electric, our customers will be backed by a leading-edge global software company and our employees will have more opportunities to fulfill their potential for success.”

InStep Software will continue to be managed by its existing executive team, adding approximately 70 employees to Schneider Electric’s operations in the United States. 

Monday 29 September 2014

ISA99/IEC 62443 Cyber Security Fundamentals Specialist certificate program!

To fulfill the stronger demand for ICS professionals with knowledge of cyber security within OT environments, ISA Ireland introduces the ISA99/IEC 62443 Cyber Security Fundamentals Specialist certificate program.

This complete program was developed for professionals that are involved in IT and OT security and need to develop a command of industrial cyber security terminology and understanding of the material embedded in the ISA99/IEC 62443 standards.

Professionals can apply for the ISA99/IEC 62443 Cybersecurity Fundamentals Specialist certificate by successfully completing the knowledge training “Using the ANSI/ISA-62443 standards to secure your Control System” and pass an exam.

Training details:
Date: 30-31 October 2014
Course length: 2 days
Location: Cork, Ireland
Cost: €1195 + €185 exam fee ex. VAT

Training course content
During the course of the two-day training, the following will be discussed:
· The principles behind creating an effective long term security program
· Interpreting and applying the ANSI/ISA99 industrial security standards
· Current trends in industrial security incidents
· Basics of risk and vulnerability analysis methodologies
· Principles of security policy development
· Concepts of defense in depth and zone/conduit models of security
· Principles behind the key risk mitigation techniques

Target audience
The training course is targeted at anyone in your organization, involved in Industrial Control Systems or Technical Automation security. With no prior knowledge requirements for this training course, employees ranging from technical staff to non-technical management can participate.

Please complete the registration form (excel format) by no later than Monday 20th october to participate in this course.
Send your completed registration form to the ISA European Office by e-mail to info@isaeurope.org as they will handle invoicing but copy Membership Chair Billy Walsh as  ISA Ireland needs to keep track of registration numbers also.

" 'Best in Class' solution for automated reporting," recognised!

Ocean Data Systems (ODS) has announced that Trihedral has partnered with ODS to provide seamless integration of Dream Report with VTScada.

Trihedral delivers VTScada, a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) solution focused on instant productivity. Trihedral is assisting ODS in the development of specialized Real-time, Alarm and Historic Data interfaces. These interfaces will become a standard part of the Dream Report product. The development of VTScada-specific interfaces within Dream Report, as opposed to leveraging generic interfaces such as OPC or ODBC, will extend that ease of use philosophy to include Dream Report configuration and operation. As Proven Partners, Trihedral and ODS have tested their combined products and will collaborate to support their joint customers.  

"We have 28 years of history in the development of our VTScada solution, and take partnerships with third parties very seriously," explained Glenn Wadden, president of Trihedral. "We took a hard look at Dream Report to make sure that it met our standards of ease of use and quality, and have decided that a partnership with Ocean Data Systems would be in the best interest of our customers, especially those in the Water and Wastewater markets that we serve. That's why we commissioned specialized interfaces making the integration of VTScada and Dream Report as simple as possible for our customers. We're particularly pleased with the way Dream Report supports VTScada's unique tag hierarchy allowing users to easily find the tags they're needing."

"Trihedral clearly recognises Dream Report as the 'Best in Class' solution for automated reporting," said Roy Kok, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Ocean Data Systems. "Dream Report will enable VTScada users to easily add both compliance and performance reports to their systems easier than any other solution for this market. As a purpose built solution for industry, Dream Report enables users to spend their time focusing on information and continuous improvement, and not the complexities of IT technologies and system integration."

25 years making PLCs #Pauto

Siemens Electronics Plant in Amberg (EWA) celebrates 25 years as show- case for production automation.
One of the 1000 product variants manufactured in the state-of-the-art Amberg plant rolls off the production line every second. Since the Siemens Electronics Plant (EWA) was founded in Amberg (D) in 1989, products manufactured there by Siemens have included Simatic programmable logic controllers (PLCs). On September 12 and 13 of this year, the EWA invited employees and customers to celebrate its 25-year jubilee.

Programmable logic controllers are used to control plants and machines like the onboard systems of cruise ships and to automate industrial manufacturing processes in fields such as the automotive engineering industry, with the aim of cutting time and costs while ensuring continuous quality improvement. The production process in Amberg itself is also controlled by Simatic: This is where Simatic produces Simatic.

Highest Quality
Siemens is the world market leader in the field of electronic controls. Production in the EWA takes place with a quality factor of 99,9988 percent. A defect quota this low is unique to a production plant. The reason: key elements of the digital factory are already being used in the EWA today. Products communicate with machines, all processes are IT-optimized and controlled.

From the look of the facility, little has changed since 1989. Although the workforce of currently around 1,100 and the size of the production area have remained almost constant, the production volume has increased eight-fold.

Efficient cooling!

Germany manufacturer SHW Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH, from the Swabian area (South Baden-Wurtemburg & East Bavaria States),  manufacture moving column machine tools. Machinery from the company includes a 200-ton moving column milling machine, the PowerForce 8, which is used to mill wind turbine stators with an internal diameter of 6.5 m. At the heart of the mill is a new, variable, universal milling head of orthogonal design with a drive power of 90 kW and a torque of up to 1,725 Nm.

SHW relies on the new “Blue e” generation of cooling devices from Rittal to exploit every possible efficiency potential in enclosure climate control. Consuming 45 per cent less energy than the previous generation, the four wall-mounted devices installed on the machine provide cooling of the input and feedback modules for the axle drive, mains filters, chokes, disconnectors, contactors, relays and have a cooling output amounting to 16 kW. The refrigeration factor of 2.47 (the COP, coefficient of performance) results from the ideal interaction of all the components responsible for the cooling output, as well as from the design of the condensers, evaporators, cooling fins, pipe bends and all the other refrigeration components. Using Rittal cooling technology, SHW have been able to connect the devices via a master-slave arrangement.

Another key factor in the increased efficiency is the ideally designed control electronics, which benefit from the new Eco-Mode control system. If continuous operation of the internal fan is not required, shut down is automatic, thus cutting energy costs.

Previously SHW had problems with cooling devices from another manufacturer that malfunctioned under extreme conditions, due to the influence of carbon dust. Since changing to ex-proof cooling units from Rittal, they have been running without problems.

Intelligent Robots, should we be scared?

Mark Proctor of European Automation has written this piece about automation in the smart factory. He highlights industry movement towards greater automation -  technological advances and the Internet of Things (IoT) are making the prospect of "lights out" manufacturing seem closer than ever. He has used the Siemens facility in Amberg as an example. 

In 1942 science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov bestowed upon the world The Three Laws of Robotics in his collection of short stories I, Robot. This was the basis for a reasonably successful film by the same name that you might have seen.

Without the comforting knowledge of the three laws, the idea of sentient machines would undoubtedly keep many of us up all night. Instead however, safe in the knowledge that, thanks to the first law, a robot may not harm a human being, the dawn of the smart factory can be greeted with open arms instead of terrified screams.  

In the 1980s American carmakers feared they might be completely wiped out by cheaper and more efficient Japanese competitors. This led to car manufacturers in Motor City, Detroit, envisioning an illustrious solution to beat their rivals - “lights-out” manufacturing. The vision was of a factory that could ultimately run on its own with minimal human interaction. They would turn the lights out in the factory and leave robots to do all the work unsupervised.

This hasn't quite been the case with the manufacturing industry until fairly recently. Technological advances and the internet of things have resulted in interconnected devices forming a convergence point between the physical and digital world. The more information stored in a system, the better positioned machines are to make smarter and timelier decisions about things normally left to human judgement.

Most factories now use processes such as laser cutting and injection moulding that operate with minimal human interaction. Additive manufacturing machines can be left alone to print day and night once they have been designated a task. And fear not my human brethren, as we all know a robot must obey the orders given to them by human beings - it’s the second law of robotics.

These processes benefit manufacturers by minimizing defects and downtime, therefore boosting efficiency.   

The Siemens (IW 1000/34) Electronic Works facility in Amberg, Germany, is a plant that we would probably fear if we weren't so impressed by it. The 108,000-square-foot high-tech facility is home to an array of smart machines that coordinate everything from the production to the global distribution of the company’s products. 

The custom, built-to-order process involves more than 1.6 billion components for over 50,000 annual product variations, for which Siemens sources about 10,000 materials from 250 suppliers to make the plant’s 950 different products.

Despite the endless variables within this system, a Gartner industry research study conducted in 2010 found that the plant boasts a reliability rate of more than 99 per cent, with only 15 defects in every million. 

You can therefore see the importance of keeping such an efficient automation process up and running. Asimov's third law - a robot must protect its own existence.

However, when this goes wrong and production breaks down, it's comforting to know that European Automation can send key parts such as drives, motors, PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) and HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) out in as little as nine hours, to quash any robotic uprising. 

Friday 26 September 2014

Automation professionals respond to American cybersecurity workforce development report!

The International Society of Automation (ISA) has responded to a widely circulated report from the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy that calls for a unified US national strategy to address the serious workforce development needs presented by the multi-dimensional threats of cyber attacks.

Dr Peggie Koon
While commending the Pell Center for bringing greater attention to this vital challenge, 2014 ISA President Peggie Koon, Ph.D., emphasises in a letter to the center that a comprehensive workforce development strategy is being implemented to train and prepare those responsible for protecting the critical and industrial infrastructure that forms the foundation of modern economies, and serves as the greatest potential target of cyber terrorists and the greatest risk of potential damage from cyber attack.

The Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, published in early 2014 by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, sets forth guidelines to help owners and operators involved in the critical and industrial infrastructure identify, assess and manage cyber risk. The Framework is based on the input of leading cybersecurity experts from government and multiple industry sectors.

Cited throughout the Framework, Dr. Koon notes, is a series of standards on industrial automation and control systems security that are being developed by ISA in an international effort involving experts from more than 200 companies and organizations representing energy, water and wastewater, food and beverage processing, chemicals,  petroleum refining and other vital industry sectors. The standards, designated the ISA 62443 series, are being adopted as they are completed by the Geneva-based International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as the IEC 62443 series, assuring recognition by industries and governments across the globe.

The Pell Center report, Professionalizing Cybersecurity: A Path for Universal Standards and Status, makes the important point that the technology for combating cyber attacks is only as good as the people who develop, implement and maintain it. However, for those responsible for protecting the critical infrastructure and industrial base, the required expertise extends well beyond the tools and technology of cybersecurity, Dr. Koon points out: “They require an understanding of the engineering interactions of complex automation and control systems—in which cyber vulnerabilities exploited in sectors such as energy production and distribution, water treatment, refining and chemicals can disrupt and damage multiple sectors, with potentially severe consequences for public health and welfare, and on a vast and interconnected economy.“

Patrick Gouhin
"As the leading professional association for automation and control systems engineers and practitioners, ISA represents the very people who must meet the great and challenging demands for knowledge and expertise in protecting the industrial and critical infrastructure,”
states Patrick Gouhin, ISA Executive Director and CEO.

“ISA’s leadership in industrial cybersecurity extends well beyond the standards by leveraging the vast expertise and knowledge from the ISA/IEC 62443 program,” Gouhin adds. “This has led to programs for the training, certification, and continuing education of those who must understand the complexities and interactions of advanced automation and control systems while protecting critical infrastructure and the industrial base.”

These programs include:

Professional certification and certificate programs
  • Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®) Certification, which demonstrates proficiency in all aspects of industrial automation and control systems including network and control systems security
  • Industrial Cybersecurity Certificate Program, which demonstrates proficiency in understanding and applying the ISA/IEC 62443 international standards
  • Certified Mission-Critical Professional (CMCP) Certification, in development under a US Department of Labor grant to Cleveland Community College, focusing on the skills and knowledge to combat cyber and other threats in industrial operations
  • Study courses and preparation materials in support of the Control Systems Engineering (CSE) program, a specialized Professional Engineering (PE) license recognized in the US and administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, which includes coverage of network and control systems security
Competency-based workforce development 
  • The Automation Competency Model (ACM), developed by the Automation Federation, the umbrella organization of ISA, in conjunction with the US Department of Labor, establishes what individuals need to know to successfully perform the tasks required in automation occupations, including network and control systems security.
Training classes, publications and conferences on:
  • Basic and advanced cybersecurity for industrial automation and control systems
  • Understanding and implementing the ISA/IEC 62443 standards

Thursday 25 September 2014

Graphical system design conference & exhibition registration!

National Instruments UK & Ireland has officially opened registration for NIDays 2014, the annual Graphical System Design Conference for engineers, scientists and educators.  This leading industry event, held on Tuesday 4th November in London (GB), features the latest technology to accelerate productivity for software-defined systems in test, measurement and control.

Professor Mark Miodownik
With a choice of technical tracks representing a spectrum of industries (from automotive and telecommunications to robotics and energy), NIDays gives delegates the opportunity to experience, learn and network with a full day of inspiring and technical sessions.  By exploring the latest software tools, emerging hardware platforms and innovative industry applications, delegates will learn how NI solutions can save time and money without sacrificing flexibility and longevity. Suitable for all technical levels, whether novice, intermediate or advanced developers, this free conference offers keynote presentations, hands-on workshops and interactive sessions taught by NI and industry experts.

The NIDays keynotes provide a first look at the latest NI tools and cutting-edge technology used by engineers and scientists to accelerate productivity and drive rapid innovation across a wide variety of industries. 

This year’s keynotes will explore the critical role engineers play in solving the world's grand challenges and how NI empowers the next generation of innovators to improve the world we live in. Trends covered include the Internet of Things, 5G, Industrie 4.0 and the smart grid. In addition, NIDays 2014 keynote headliner, Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials and Society at University College London and BBC broadcaster will showcase his research on 3D-printed bike helmets. 

• Readout attended this event in 2012. See what we thought "No boxes with magic pixies at Westminster!"

Level, volume and mass measurement of bulk solids and powders.

The Rosemount 5708 Series of 3D Solids Scanners for the continuous measurement of level, volume and mass of bulk solids and powders in large vessels, bins and silos have been introduced by Emerson. The new series uses acoustic measurement and 3D mapping technologies to provide accurate and reliable results even when measuring uneven or sloping surfaces under dusty conditions.

These 3D Solids Scanners provide highly accurate measurements of stored contents for improved process and inventory control. Unlike laser-based technologies that can take several hours to take measurements and require the process to be shut down, these units provide continuous volume measurements that are representative of the material’s surface. They can measure practically any kind of material including difficult-to-measure fly ash and materials with a low dielectric that would challenge other technologies. The self-cleaning design requires low maintenance even when used in the dustiest environments.

They are suitable for measuring solids in silos, large open bins, bulk solid storage rooms, stockpiles and warehouses. There are models to deliver either level data only or both level and volume data using intuitive monitoring software. The Rosemount scanner maps the uneven surface typically found in solids applications and can provide the minimum and maximum level, the total volume and a 3D visualisation of the surface.

The Rosemount 5708 Series includes level scanners for silos up to 5m (16 feet) diameter and 70m (230 feet) height, and there is also a version for larger vessels and silos up to 12m (39 feet) diameter and 70m (230 feet) height. Emerson can also supply systems of multiple devices to cover large areas such as 30m x 70m (98 x 230 feet) warehouses.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Innovative automation publication gets top graphic design award!

InTech Plus, the International Society of Automation’s new mobile application for the Apple iPad that provides on-the-go technical and educational content, has received a prominent design award.

Graphic Design USA has awarded ISA a Certificate of Excellence award in its 2014 American Graphic Design Awards competition for the online design of InTech Plus,  the launch of which we recorded earlier this year (March 2013),  to connect automation and control professionals to an array of new and different automation-related information and functionality.

For five decades, Graphic Design USA has sponsored competitions to showcase excellence among professionals in creative fields. Only 15 percent of the entries in the 2014 American Graphic Design Awards competition—which this year attracted more than 8,000 applications—received Certificate of Excellence Awards.

“ISA is very pleased and excited to be presented with this prestigious design award,” says Susan Colwell, Manager of ISA Publications Development. “InTech Plus reflects ISA’s commitment to innovation and the ‘coolest delivery’ of new tools, products and programs for automation professionals. The fresh and modern design of the application plays an essential part in our ability to deliver engaging content in a new and compelling way.”

Winning American Graphic Design Award entries are featured in Graphic Design USA’s 250-page annual publication (and digital flipbook version), Annual Winners Gallery website section, and annual iPad app.

• Download InTech Plus for free through the Apple App Store.

Online condition monitoring solution addresses big analogue data challenges!

National Instruments (NI) has announced NI InsightCM Enterprise, a new software solution that helps companies gain insight into the health of their capital equipment for machine maintenance and operations. With more than 15 years of experience in condition monitoring, NI developed NI InsightCM Enterprise as its first end-to-end software solution that addresses Big Analog Data challenges and builds on the industrial Internet of Things.

Using this software, companies can cost-effectively monitor both critical and ancillary rotating machinery, which helps them gain a more holistic view of their fleets and manage operational risk while maintaining profitability and production efficiency. The enterprise solution solves the data management, data analysis and systems management challenges that are common in Big Analog Data applications. Its inherent flexibility and open architecture make it an ideal choice for meeting evolving diagnostic program requirements.

NI InsightCM Enterprise acquires and analyses sensory information, generates alarms and allows maintenance specialists to remotely diagnose machine faults. Ready-to-run condition monitoring systems based on the CompactRIO hardware platform can acquire from a wide range of sensors for improved fault diagnoses. This hardware and software solution simplifies the configuration of and measurements from thousands of sensors, so users can remotely monitor device health, configure channels and upgrade firmware on deployed systems.

This online condition monitoring solution is ideal for companies in a variety of industries, including oil and gas, power generation, mining, rail and industrial manufacturing, that need to optimise machine performance, maximise uptime, reduce maintenance costs and increase safety.

Key Benefits
  • Cost-effective: Lowers the instrumentation cost for monitoring both critical and other plant equipment at a fleet-wide scale
  • Open: Offers open software architecture to access data and gain interoperability with third-party enterprise software packages, such as CMMSs, database historians and prognostics tools
  • Easily scalable: Scales from one to hundreds of nodes per NI InsightCM Enterprise server and replicates one solution at multiple facilities
  • Flexible: Incorporates CompactRIO to adapt to changing sensory needs while maintaining the user’s investment in the platform

Two-channel I/O analog input & output modules work on a 4-20mA current loop with HART.

Industrial automation manufacturer Opto 22 has released the SNAP-AIMA-iH and SNAP-AOA-23-iH two-channel analog input and output modules, each with HART communications. Both SNAP I/O modules use the HART communications protocol to extract status, diagnostics, and other information from smart devices such as field-mounted process transmitters and analyzers. This information can be used by the automation system and/or the asset management system to increase uptime, improve productivity and enhance safety.

HART is the most widely used digital communications protocol in process automation, and the HART Communication Foundation is continually updating the protocol.

The SNAP-AIMA-iH analog input module has two isolated 4-20 mA input channels, and the SNAP-AOA-23-iH output module has two isolated 4-20 mA output channels. Each channel features an integrated HART modem that allows the channel to communicate digitally with the HART FSK (frequency-shift keying) signal imposed on the 4-20 mA current loop, enabling communication with the target smart device.

Each channel is a HART master device when used with Opto 22 programmable automation controllers (PACs), and can communicate with other HART current loop devices in either point-to-point or multidrop configurations.

The SNAP-AIMA-iH analog input module is categorized by the HART protocol as a current input connection type, which means that the module is a low-impedance device. The SNAP-AOA-23-iH analog output module is categorized by the HART protocol as a current output device, which means that each channel can provide the required loop current and is a high-impedance device.

Each module includes LED indicators to provide status information, such as HART channel operation, communication errors, or zero loop current or voltage reading.

Both analog modules are transformer isolated as well as optically isolated from all other modules and from the I/O processor. Transformer isolation prevents ground loop currents from flowing between field devices and causing noise that produces erroneous readings. Ground loop currents are caused when two grounded field devices share a connection, and the ground potential at each device is different. Transformer isolation provides 1500 volts of transient (1500 V for 1 s) protection from industrial field signals.

In addition, all channels are isolated from each other. Channel-to-channel isolation provides complete freedom from ground-loop problems, even on grounded devices connected to channels on the same module.

SNAP-AIMA-iH and SNAP-AOA-23-iH modules are used with Opto 22’s SNAP PAC System, which includes programmable automation controllers (PACs), Ethernet-based I/O systems, and PAC Project automation software. All HART commands for wired devices including universal, common practice, and device-specific commands are available for these modules in PAC Control programming software (version 9.4 and higher), facilitating quick integration with HART smart devices.

Process engineers can incorporate data from HART devices into their control applications just as they do the analog, digital, and serial I/O signals received from other SNAP I/O modules installed on the I/O rack. And using Opto 22’s groov mobile operator interface, HART device and all other control system data can be displayed quickly and simply on any mobile device.

The modules can also be used with other process controllers. Opto 22 offers the SNAP PAC .NET HART developer toolkit so a user can easily integrate the HART SNAP I/O modules into an existing application. This toolkit is available for download

Pro-active service fleet ensures air quality.

In response to growing demand and a changing market, Air Monitors Limited, a leading provider of air quality monitoring equipment and related services, has invested in a new fleet of state-of-the-art vehicles.
Service Manager Nigel Grey says: “Our service work has changed enormously in recent years and it is vitally important that we adapt accordingly, ensuring that all of our engineers are equipped with the latest technology so that they can provide the highest levels of service.”

Air Monitors services a high proportion of Britain’s air quality monitoring networks, and published data capture rates demonstrate that the company is able to offer the highest levels of service available. However, many of Air Monitors’ customers now employ cloud-based data collection so that they are able to view air quality data in almost real-time. This facility has radically changed Air Monitors’ service capability: “Instead of responding to customer calls when they find that an instrument is down or damaged, we now continuously monitor the performance of all of our customers’ online monitors. As a result, we are often able to detect issues before they become a problem, and despatch an engineer much sooner - most problems are fixed before the customer knows they have one!”

To support the new pro-active service capability, the new Air Monitors vans are equipped with all of the latest service, calibration and communication technology, coupled with a comprehensive suite of spares and consumables.

Accurate & reliable monitoring of moisture in industrial oils!

The EE364 in-line transmitter from E+E Elektronik measures moisture and temperature in transformer, lubricating, hydraulic or motor oils, and diesel fuel. This device can assist in planning condition-based maintenance operations to aid in avoiding equipment breakdown, leading to lowered costs.

The transmitter can measure water activity (aw) and oil temperature (T), and calculate water content (x in ppm). The readings are available on two 4-20 mA analog outputs and a Modbus RTU interface. The analog outputs can be scaled and configured by the user with the optional converter cable and free configuration software.

It is pressure rated to 20 bar (290 psi) and features G ½" ISO or ½" NPT process connection threads. Its compact size and robust stainless steel IP65 enclosure allow for easy integration into demanding OEM applications and harsh environmental conditions.

• E+E Elektronic products are marketed in Ireland through Instrument Technology.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Additions to RFID portfolio!

The Simatic RF300 and RF600 radio frequency identification (RFID) systems portfolio has just grown to include new transponders in the HF (high frequency) and UHF (ultra-high frequency) range. The RFID offering also includes the ANT 3 antenna for tool identification.

ANT 3 for tool identification
can be connected to readers
RF250R & RF350R as
an external antenna.
The Simatic RF300 HF system family now includes the new compact 32Kbyte FRAM transponder Simatic RF330T. Measuring 30x8 millimeters, it can be either surface or flush mounted in the metal, making it suitable for the identification of metallic carriers, workpieces or containers. Its high IP68/x9K protection rating makes it suitable for use in hostile environments. Depending on the reader used, it achieves a read distance of up to 35 millimeters.

The RF600 UHF system range has been extended to include two new SmartLabels. Simatic RF640L, which has an IP67 protection rating, is a durable RFID adhesive label for demanding industrial applications. Its compact dimensions of just 50x22.5x1.6 millimeters allow the label to be used in assembly, production and logistics applications, and also for the durable identification of tools and containers for asset management. The on-metal label was developed for mounting on metal surfaces and has a read distance of up to 4 meters. The heat-proof SmartLabel RF690L with its high IP67 protection rating is an adhesive RFID label capable of withstanding hot environments with peak temperatures of up to +230°C, which can occur in applications such as painting lines. It is compact in design, with the European version measuring 88x25x1.6 millimeters and the USA version measuring 75x25.1.6 millimeters, and achieves a readworkpiece distance of up to 4.5 meters. Typical operating temperatures are anywhere between -25°C and +100°C.

Another addition to the tool identification portfolio is the new ANT 3 antenna, which connects externally to readers RF250R and RF350R. Measuring 50x28x10 millimeters, the low-profile design of the antenna allows highly precise positioning in the most restricted of spaces. Depending on the transponder and reader, it achieves a read distance of up to 50 millimeters.

Who's for tennis! Cool technology at Wimbledon!

When the sun comes out on a rainy Wimbledon match day, the roof over Centre Court can be retracted, but only after the floodlights have cooled down sufficiently. This is a safety requirement as well as an aesthetic one, as the 1,000 W floodlights are mounted directly on the roof beams and the fabric comes close to this heat source when the roof is retracted.

User-friendly and highly
accurate  temperature 
measurement kit
To check how soon the lights reach the critical temperature of 212° F (100° C) and the roof retract temperature, Galliford Try, the company that built the Centre Court for the All England Club, engaged the temperature profiling expert Datapaq.

On an out-of-season day, Datapaq engineer Kevin Stephens performed a measurement run with three thermocouples mounted above and close to two lights. Connected to the sensors via 33-foot (10-meter) trailing cables, a Q18-type data logger captured the temperature profiles with a 2 s sampling rate. Using a notebook and Datapaq's specialized Insight software, Stephens read out and analyzed the data, marking events such as "lights switched off" or "sensor moved." The test turned out to prove that the prescribed half-hour wait after the lights are switched off is actually necessary for safe operation.

Eugene McCormick, Senior Project Manager at Galliford Try, notes, "We now have precise radiant heat temperature data. We will utilise this information when designing the roof for No.1 Court." Datapaq supplied the full report, showing the temperature curves of all sensors over two and a half hours, during which the flood lights were on for nearly two hours and then switched off to cool down.

Students earn scholarships!

Yokogawa Corporation of America is contributing student scholarships to deserving graduate and undergraduate college students, which were awarded at the company's 2014 Users Conference and Exhibition.   A total of five individual scholarships were issued in the amount of $500 each.

The Yokogawa Corporation of America Student Scholarship is awarded to college and university students who aspire to become leaders in engineering, automation and related fields.  The award supports expenses such as tuition, books, fees and/or supplies for the current academic semester.

Scholarship recipients were announced on Thursday, September 11, 2014 during the awards ceremony of Yokogawa’s Users Conference and Exhibition.  Chet Mroz, President and CEO of Yokogawa Corporation of America, recognized the winners and posed for photographs, after presenting them with special oversized replicas of the check.

“The opportunity to support students interested in an engineering or automation career is valuable as it promotes growth within our industry,” says Mroz.  “We certainly appreciate these future innovators and hope that our contribution to their education makes a great impact in their current studies and beyond.”

Yokogawa selected qualified recipients from the applications submitted and essays, which asked students to "describe their future career goals and explain how the scholarship would help attain them."  Essay answers ranged from goals of becoming electrical engineers to aspirations of subsea engineering in the future. Some students described their need to support tuition and book expenses, while others mentioned a need to support mounting student loans that they would soon have to repay.

The five students are: Dilioha Igbo, Chukwudi Omire, Sarah Rai, Monica Rexach, Ali Siddique

Yokogawa decided to offer the scholarship as a way to benefit aspiring engineers.  Students were invited to visit the Users Conference and Exhibition on the dedicated Student Day, Thursday September 11.  Nearly 30 college and university students were in attendance.  The event provided a platform whereby participants could learn more about the products, solutions, and services offered by Yokogawa and see live demonstrations.  They were encouraged to attend a technology keynote, tour the demo showcase, and network with industry experts and engineers.   A Yokogawa recruiter was available to discuss internships and job openings.  LinkedIn, the business and professional networking service, also had a representative onsite to provide giveaways and recommendations geared toward future graduates who would soon be entering the workforce.  Students walked away armed with valuable information for their career development.

Yokogawa believes in the advancement of college and university students in the industrial automation and related fields as they prepare to become future engineers for companies like itself.

Novel Solution for smarter, more cost- effective test instrumentation recognised!

Based on its recent analysis of the peripheral component interconnect or PCI eXtensions for instrumentation (PXI)-based instrumentation for electronic test applications market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes RADX Technologies (RADX) with the 2014 Global Frost & Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation. RADX entered the test and measurement market with the introduction of the LibertyGT COTS Software Defined Synthetic Instrument (SDSI) product line that synthesizes a wide range of instruments while enabling concurrent operation for high throughput to address key end-user demands. This product features an innovative touchscreen design that has been optimized for re-configurability, technology insertion and user programmability.

Using PXI hardware and LabVIEW, LabVIEW FPGA and TestStand software from National Instruments packaged in a touchscreen enclosure developed by RADX, the LibertyGT SDSI offers faster measurement speed than traditional instrumentation. Furthermore, the range of functionalities available from RADX Technologies (up to 32 instruments currently) translates to a significantly lower cost of ownership as the number of instruments it replaces increases.

Based on patented technology licensed exclusively by RADX from BAE Systems, the LibertyGT features measurement science firmware and software (MSFS) that encompasses spectrum analysis, digital storage oscilloscope (DSO), Digital Multimeter (DMM), RF signal generation stimuli and comprehensive radio test. The LibertyGT includes an open source scripting language for local Test Program Set development and the system also supports Interchangeable Virtual Instrument (IVI) drivers for remote access. Apart from providing a wide range of intrinsic capabilities, the RADX LibertyGT SDSI also supports third-party measurement science and the company develops custom modules for customers. The solution is available with two software packages, the MSFS base bundle and the advanced measurement science software and firmware bundle (AMSB).

"While other companies have taken similar steps to provide program specific solutions using PXI hardware, RADX Technologies differentiates itself by integrating a turnkey, touchscreen, general purpose synthetic instrument that provides control of solution to customers, which is essential to add/modify functionality over time,” said Frost & Sullivan Industry Director Jessy Cavazos. "This is made possible by the innovative hardware and software design of the instrument, from the hinged front panel design of the enclosure to the modular software architecture that enables customer to tailor and maintain the system as their requirements dictate."

In addition to hardware re-configurability, the LibertyGT software architecture enables concurrent measurement capability, transforming the synthetic instrument into a compact, yet comprehensive test system, which, in turn, lowers costs. The product also offers cost-savings by isolating the hardware, software, and test program sets (TPS) from each other. This model allows hardware and software to be changed without affecting the TPS, eventually greatly reducing the need to rewrite and recertify TPS in military ATE applications.

RADX employed a number of experts in the LabVIEW and embedded systems ecosystem to develop LibertyGT, including JKI to help with the system’s intuitive LabVIEW user interface (UI) which features simple workflows, user and third party extensibility and powerful screen animations.

"The breadth of instrument personalities offered by the LibertyGT, coupled with the addition of a its python based local TPS framework and Test Management based on NI TestStand makes the system ideal for benchtop and automated test systems,” noted Cavazos. "Simultaneously, the company has strived to make its LibertyGT solution especially suited to the production test environment by providing the user programmability, front-to-back cooling, and modular power supply."

In addition to its use in military test and measurement applications, the LibertyGT SDSI is well suited for commercial applications in wireless infrastructure, wireless communication devices, commercial radios, and commercial avionics. Customers may employ its wide range of instrument personalities and/or develop and add their own measurement science to the instrument.

Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has developed an innovative element in a product by leveraging leading-edge technologies. The award recognizes the value-added features/benefits of the product and the increased ROI it offers customers, which, in turn, increases customer acquisition and overall market penetration potential.

Frost & Sullivan’s Best Practices Awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for outstanding achievement in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research.

Make your smart phone a control tool!

Fluke’s FREE Connect™ app turns a smart phone into a useful Fluke tool without purchasing any equipment. It enables the user to securely share images and data and communicate in real time with other authorised personnel using the same app, without leaving the field. Measurement data can be entered manually. Work orders can be scheduled from a remote location and data can be stored safely and free in the Fluke Cloud™. The Fluke Connect app can be downloaded free from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

The Fluke Connect app features ShareLive™ video call, allowing users to securely connect and collaborate with others. This enables other team members to see what the technician can see, so that work approvals at a remote location can be authorised without the technician leaving the field.

Fluke Cloud storage infrastructure has been built to be one of the most flexible and secure cloud computing environments available, built upon state-of-the-art security, including secure access, electronic surveillance, multi-factor access control systems, built-in firewalls, and encrypted data storage.

When used in conjunction with Fluke Connect enabled test tools, the Connect app can wirelessly capture measurement data from those tools, allowing technicians to then utilise all the functionality of the app. More than twenty Fluke tools connect wirelessly with the Connect app, including digital multimeters, thermal imagers, insulation testers, process meters, and specific voltage, current and temperature meters.

Technicians can AutoRecord™ measurements and infrared images to Fluke Cloud storage from wherever they are working, without writing anything down. Everyone on the team with a smart phone and the app can see the data. EquipmentLog™ history allows technicians to assign measurements to specific equipment, creating a cloud-based history of test measurement data for easy access during both troubleshooting and reliability maintenance. TrendIt™ enables technicians to instantly graph data, helping to identify trends and quickly make informed decisions.

Helping to reduce emissions at advanced, low-carbon refinery in Canada!

Industry experience, expertise, and technology innovation drove selection for multi million dollar automation project in western Canada

Canada’s North West Redwater Partnership has selected Emerson Process Management to provide automation services and technology for the first phase of the innovative Sturgeon refinery northeast of Edmonton, Alberta,  (CDN). Expected value of the contract to Emerson is approximately US$86 million (€67 million).
An artist’s rendering of the Sturgeon Refinery project (Edmonton Journal)
The Sturgeon facility will capture carbon dioxide emissions and sell them to traditional oil extraction operations, which will inject the carbon dioxide into wells under pressure to enhance extraction before permanently storing the gas in the wells. This approach is expected to reduce emissions by 1.2 million tons per year from the first phase of the refinery while also generating income for North West Redwater.

The new facility will also use technologies designed for cleaner refining, including elimination of petroleum coke, a waste product typical of traditional refining.

North West Redwater chose Emerson to automate the Sturgeon refinery based on its experience in similar refining processes, as well as its technologies and expertise that can help reduce project costs, reduce schedule risk, and increase process availability.

As the main automation contractor, Emerson will manage the automation of the refinery including providing engineering, configuration, start-up, training, commissioning support, and other services.

The automation solution for the project will include its DeltaV™ distributed control system and DeltaV SIS safety instrumented system to control and monitor operations. Both systems include Emerson’s innovative Electronic Marshalling technology with characterisation modules (CHARMs), which greatly simplifies connections between the control system and the thousands of instruments throughout the plant.

The automation solution will also include the company’s Rosemount® transmitters, Fisher® control valves, and Micro Motion® flowmeters to carry out essential measurement and control functions.

“This is one of several large automation projects we’re executing in western Canada,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “We look forward to being a part of this truly cutting-edge carbon-reduction process while also supporting the conversion of non-traditional energy sources to cleaner fuel.”

• North West Redwater Partnership is a 50/50 partnership between North West Upgrading, Inc. and Canadian Natural Upgrading Limited (CNUL), a subsidiary of Canadian Natural Resources Limited. The $8.5 billion (€6.62 billion) first phase of the Sturgeon refinery project, which is expected to be complete by September 2017, will process 50,000 barrels per day of bitumen into primarily ultra-low-sulphur diesel fuel. The facility has regulatory approval to process up to 150,000 barrels per day of bitumen.  

Monday 22 September 2014

Connecting 3 phase power.

The new Quicktest QT3, from Cliff Electronics, is a compact, robust 3-Phase power connector designed for temporary, safe and efficient connection of unterminated cables to 440VAC, 3-Phase power supplies. The QT3 has a maximum power rating of 16 amps per phase.

The Cliff QT3 is designed for use in applications including manufacturing, test and repair, calibration, measurement and burn-in where fast, safe and non-permanent connection to 3-Phase power supply is required.

Connection of cables, products or appliances to the new 3-Phase Quickest takes just a few seconds. Simply open the Quickest lid, which automatically isolates the 3 phase supply, insert each bare cable end by pressing the 5 colour-coded piano key cable clamps, and then close the lid to complete the circuit between the device being tested and the 3 phase supply. Opening the lid again isolates the supply source so the conductors can be rapidly removed.

The colour-coded piano key cable clamps are also marked L1, L2, L3, N and E to prevent any confusion. Each phase is protected by an individual 16 amp fuse as standard and each phase is fitted with an individual neon indicator lamp to indicate when the phase is live and connected to the supply.
Cliff’s Quicktest QT3 is designed for use either free standing or mounted to a bench or test fixture and it measures a very compact 49mm x 100mm x 160mm.

Cliff continues to supply the original and much acclaimed single-phase QT1 connector designed specifically for use with single-phase AC supply and offering the same functionality and safety as the QT3

John Hall, General Manager of Cliff Electronics, comments; “Our new Quicktest QT3 extends the easy and safety or temporary connection to 3-phase products offering manufacturers and service technicians a fast and safe way to connect power for test or service requirements.”

Unified supply chain management software!

Schneider Electric is first to introduce a unified supply chain management solution for the hydrocarbon processing industry. Built on its ground-breaking Spiral Suite platform, the new offering closes the value gaps left by poorly integrated legacy tools. By improving collaboration across the refinery, Spiral Suite software helps traders, planners and schedulers make reliable decisions, manage risks and ultimately increase profitability.

“Spiral Suite promises to transform the refinery business environment from being a place where hundreds of people work in isolation—not seeing or understanding how their bits of individual work contribute to the whole—to a place where workers first see and understand how their decisions impact others and then cooperate to collectively unlock the maximum value of their economic forecasts,” said Ravi Gopinath, Ph.D., executive vice president, Schneider Electric Global Solutions, Software Business.

“The latest advances to our Spiral Suite toolset achieve, above and beyond, what many refiners and vendors have tried and failed to do with legacy solutions: It improves understanding and cooperation between traders, planners and schedulers and replaces several disjointed point solutions with a single, easy-to-use application. In short, it increases transparency and collaboration across different business groups, enabling our customers to make the best overall decisions for safety and profitability while taking better advantage of new opportunities presented by the market. It’s a great example of the new, game-changing technology Schneider Electric will continue to introduce to help our customers plan and manage their future.”

Spiral Suite users can contribute to and add value to one another’s decision making without the risk of overwriting data or causing downstream processing issues at the plant. Combined with powerful, intuitive visualizations, everyone is able to view, understand and respond to incidents. All refinery activities are supported within a single, highly intuitive environment, and accurate, up-to-date information is available across the business. Planners can see future scheduling constraints; schedulers can assess their decisions against commercial impact and operational feasibility. Users from different disciplines and locations are now able to work together effectively to create the most flexible, optimal plan for any set of circumstances, unlocking potential cost savings and margin improvements that could total millions of dollars each year.

“With Spiral Suite, even novice planners can be up and running within a week, rather than after a year of training it would normally take with heritage products,” said Peter Reynolds, senior consultant with ARC Advisory Group. “In an industry where challenges are coming from every direction, companies risk losing out if they continue to apply outdated work processes that rely on experts. In some cases, optimized production planning is only achieved through knowledge held by a small number of people and naturally collaborative working relationships. As these experts retire, more companies are looking to invest in a sustainable solution that supports the younger, more mobile workforce. Spiral Suite offers exceptional ease-of-use, meaning users can perform all the necessary analytics and backcasting to make profitable, risk-adjusted feedstock purchasing and refinery planning decisions within weeks of licensing.”

Spiral Suite’s SaaS deployment model, off-the-shelf integration and exceptional ease of use mean the application can be learned within days. Legacy point solutions can be replaced quickly and simply, without incurring the high cost of implementing or maintaining data transfer. Inadequate, unsupported integration bridges are removed, as is the need for application experts and extensive training courses, which lowers total cost of ownership. Data from in-house and external systems can be made available automatically within workflows, and people from across the business can work in parallel to build the supply chain model within weeks, without needing to know matrix math.

Spiral Suite takes advantage of the advanced features of modern processors, fully exploiting multi-core and cloud environments to generate results in seconds and then presenting them in a way everyone can understand. Users can explore the business and operational implications of millions of scenarios and receive real-time feedback on how their changes would impact the rest of the supply chain. Integral cargo tracking and assay management mean crude oil quality variations can be analyzed within minutes, rather than weeks, to swiftly assess their financial impact on the business, as well as any potential operational and reliability issues prior to purchase. The software also automatically reconciles all available data and performs backcasting to understand how and why there are deviations to the plan.

• Spiral Suite will be on display at Schneider Electric’s Software Global Customer Conference taking place the week of September 30, 2014, in Orlando, (Fla USA).