Retirement!

As is obvious, the regular addition of stories to this ProcessingTalk weblog has dwindled, and new interests and activities have taken over from active involvement and analysis of news stories.

The technology developments, innovations and marketing initiatives occurring in process instrumentation remain a fascination, and some of these will still be reported, irregularly.

I wish to thank colleagues, correspondents and friends across the industry for allowing me to share in some of their amazing product ideas and developments, and long may they continue!

For now my interest in optical and wave sensing techniques continues in a more focussed direction, in restoring old telescopes. Good, old, proven technology just carries on …..

Nick Denbow

November 2020

Fines, prison and arrests for irresponsible industrial CEOs and Execs

The latest issue of HazardEx (www.hazardexonthenet.net/) features two stories where company executives are being held responsible for continuing to run their operations despite known safety problems, endangering the plant, their personnel, and the public.

The former president and CEO of US oil company Custom Carbon Processing (CCP) has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $50,000 for his role in a 2012 explosion that injured three workers at the company’s oil processing plant in Wibaux, Montana. Peter Margiotta was found guilty (last September) of an indictment that included conspiracy under the US Clean Air Act – general duty, and Clean Air Act – knowing endangerment, that resulted in three employees being injured. CCP was constructing the Michels Disposal Well and Oil Reclamation Facility, and Margiotta directed the opening of the plant before implementing appropriate electrical wiring, ventilation and other safety measures. He was warned by the project manager that the action ran the risk of killing not only the operators but also the plant customers.

In India, a gas leak of styrene from LG Polymers, a subsidiary of the South Korean firm LG Chem, in May 2020 killed 11 people and affected over 1000 others. An enquiry has already found a distinct lack of safety measures – even the warning siren facility installed on the plant was not functioning at the time of the leak. The plant was found to have improperly designed storage tanks, and poor maintenance: the storage tank temperature had risen to six times its allowed level over several days in April, but this had been ignored. On July 8th the Indian authorities arrested 12 LG Polymers officials, including its South Korean Chief Executive, on charges of culpable homicide, negligent handling of poisonous substances, and causing hurt and/or endangerment to public life, which could lead to prison terms of up to 8 years.

Emerson invests $100m in new flow research centre

Emerson is to invest more than $100 million in Boulder, Colorado, to significantly expand manufacturing space, and create a new innovation centre focused on research, new product development and industry training for its advanced flow measurement products.

David N. Farr, chairman and chief executive of Emerson commented: “This US investment significantly expands our ability to serve as industry leaders, helping customers in essential industries optimise their operations with the latest technologies. Our new facility demonstrates our continued commitment to customer-driven innovation and high-tech manufacturing, as well as our focus on attracting the best and brightest talent to work for Emerson.”

Emerson is recognised globally for its advanced flow measurement technologies and diagnostics that help leading global customers in the life sciences, food and beverage, chemical, power and energy industries. The new innovation centre will drive innovation and new product development to enable customers in these critical industries to realise performance improvements in production, reliability, safety and sustainability.

“As an entrepreneur, I saw first-hand how Colorado’s talent and market strengths can fuel innovation,” said

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis commented: “As an entrepreneur, I saw first-hand how the talent and market strengths in Solorado can fuel innovation. This investment in Coloradans and our state is a bold statement about our economic power and the bright opportunities that lie ahead.”

Artist’s impression of the new Emerson facility in Boulder

The nearly 180,000 square foot (16,700 square metres) expansion includes a new, 85,000 sq ft (7,900 sq m) laboratory, and a manufacturing facility to design and develop products, technologies and software that measure and control the flow of material in any manufacturing process.

The facility will offer a hands-on Interactive Plant Environment that simulates real-world industrial manufacturing conditions for worker training and upskilling to help reshape the future workforce. This ‘experiential’ training facility will provide Emerson customers with hands-on access to the most advanced products and technologies, including flow, temperature, level, pressure and wireless instrumentation, valves and regulators, as well as Emerson’s leading control systems and Plantweb digital ecosystem. Emerson’s flow measurement portfolio includes Coriolis, magnetic, vortex, multiphase, differential pressure and ultrasonic meters – meters that show the Micro Motion, Rosemount, Roxar and Daniel brands.

The new factory complex will have charging stations for electric vehicles and bicycle parking areas, plus include green landscaping, energy efficiency and water conservation programmes. Work is expected to commence on site in spring 2020.

Emerson currently has 630 employees in Boulder, which is the home of its Micro Motion business. Micro Motion was founded in 1977 as one of Boulder’s earliest start-ups and invented the first Coriolis flow meter. Emerson acquired Micro Motion in 1984 and has continued to invest in design, engineering and attracting technical talent.

Last year, Emerson announced a collaboration with Colorado State University to build the Emerson Brewing Innovation Centre, where students get hands-on experience using the latest automation technologies.

E+H feels well positioned, despite CV

The Endress + Hauser press conference that reported their 2019 annual results today also reported minimal effect on output from the necessary measures taken to protect staff and ensure safe working in the face of Coronavirus.

From visits to a few Endress + Hauser locations around Basel, their factories, in marked contrast to most equivalent UK production sites, are spacious, and even historically had a large separation between work stations and production operators.  With this in-built advantage it was probably simpler to impose social distancing on the production floor.

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Matthias Altendorf, in his comments on the effects of CV over the last few months, said that at peak times, over 10,000 employees were working from home. This was primarily enabled by their concept of a digital workplace, with an IT landscape based on a cloud based architecture. As standard, even without CV, employees are allowed to spend 20% of work time at home.

The major effect of the coronavirus pandemic seen so far has been a 20% drop in order intake over the last two months: this order intake has been assisted by an increase in orders via their website by 90% compared to last year’s levels.

An E+H diary of the effects of CV

Matthias Altendorf gave a comprehensive account of the effects of CV on the E+H operations.

“Ever since the first reports of the outbreak of a novel respiratory illness in January, the coronavirus has dominated our lives, professionally and privately. So you might be interested in how we are dealing with this situation and what impact the pandemic is having on our business.

We reacted early, and extensively, to the new situation. After all, we and our customers have a deeply ingrained safety and protection mindset. A task force at Group level is coordinating and communicating our measures and guidelines related to the pandemic. This team comes together each day – in a virtual environment – to discuss the situation, just like the Executive Board, which holds a daily video conference.

From the very beginning our motto was that we would rather do too much, too early, rather than too little, too late. Our goal is to protect people and our business. To do that, we are following two basic principles:

First, the health of our employees, customers and partners is our top priority. With our measures, we want to protect people from being infected by the coronavirus. And we want to do our part to prevent the pandemic from spreading further. In this respect, we also have a responsibility to society.

Second, we want to provide our customers with the best possible support. Large parts of our business concern system-relevant sectors. Important infrastructures and systems – such as water and energy supply networks, production of food or pharmaceuticals – must be kept running. We have a responsibility here as well.

After the first cases appeared outside of China, we declared a travel ban for Asia as early as January. We then continued to add measures more or less on a weekly basis. We canceled customer seminars, training programs, international conferences and trade fair events. We first banned international travel and followed this up with bans on domestic travel as well.

We introduced strict hygiene measures at our locations. We made hand sanitizers available and made sure that surfaces people come into frequent contact with are disinfected multiple times a day. We reorganized our work environments and workflows so that employees can maintain the required distances between one another. And we made sure that our employee restaurants maintain proper hygiene.

In mid-March we then required practically all office-based employees to work from home. That even included people in areas such as research and development, who rarely work from home. These measures are also designed to protect those who must continue to work at our facilities. Although there is a lot we can do remotely, manufacturing, repairing or delivering instruments is something you obviously cannot do from home.

At peak times up to 10,000 employees are working from home. Because our internal IT service provider Endress+Hauser InfoServe had already raised our IT infrastructure to a high level in years of dedicated work, everything is running smoothly. Secure and uncomplicated access to our data is possible from anywhere. This is the result of a project we launched five years ago: with the digital workplace we completely restructured our IT landscape and went from pure on-site applications to a cloud-based architecture.

The whole time we have managed to maintain the availability of materials at our plants around the world. And we’ve been able to ensure delivery logistics, despite canceled flights and restraints on shipping. However, there was nothing we could do about government-mandated temporary plant closures such as in Italy, India and South Africa. This aside, Endress+Hauser was and is maintaining its delivery capabilities.

Behind this are the tremendous efforts of our employees. These days you often hear talk of new  everyday heroes. Our heroes work in production, service and logistics. And they are working under difficult conditions in the office or from home, in small apartments, which they were essentially  unable to leave for weeks – for example our colleagues in France, Italy, Spain and Dubai – and sometimes   having to take care of children at the same time. Or they are continuing to work at the company under strict distancing and hygiene guidelines. All of them have achieved great things in recent weeks!

Despite all these challenges, we have managed to continue to provide our customers with excellent, extensive support. We are bridging the physical distances forced upon us by the coronavirus through digital and emotional proximity.

Our website endress.com serves as a high-performance platform for a wide range of transactions. With a personalized account, our customers can select the right product, configure it to their requirements and order it directly from us. Much like we are accustomed to in our private lives with online shops, our customers enjoy full transparency regarding the status of the order. This is a function that has been much in demand in recent weeks. And, of course, they can retrieve the latest documents, data and information for their instruments at any time and anywhere.

Interest from our customers in these options has grown enormously during the corona crisis. We currently have more than one million visitors to our website each month, an increase of 20 percent from 2019. Incoming orders via endress.com are running 90 percent above last year’s levels. Online business makes up more than 10 percent of the business in a dozen countries, a notable figure for our products that require such intensive consultation, and an indicator of where we are heading.

This applies to many areas. We have customer seminars and internal events in virtual space, we are successful with webinars and podcasts. We are also breaking new ground in service. With Visual Support we support customers remotely via an app. Using the camera in the customer’s smartphone or tablet, our employees can gain an insight into the situation. They can then provide precise instructions regarding what the customer has to do. We will offer this service to our customers at no charge for as long as the coronavirus is spreading.

Our colleagues at Analytik Jena are facing special challenges at the moment. As you know, our goal is to support our customers from the lab, to product and process development, all the way to the process itself. One step toward this goal was the acquisition of lab specialist Analytik Jena in 2013. Although the business is focused on industry customers, Analytic Jena has also been supplying customers in the medical industry as well as in research and scientific environments.

As the coronavirus broke out in China at the beginning of the year, our colleagues at Analytik Jena immediately jumped into action. Providing evidence of an infection requires preparing and analyzing the genetic material in the virus. Analytik Jena supplies the required equipment: dependable instruments capable of rapidly generating reliable results.

On short notice our colleagues at Analytik Jena China looked into how available coronavirus tests could be used in our instruments. They informed around 1,000 interested participants via webinars how the genetic material in the virus can be reliably detected. They also furnished several hospitals in China with the corresponding lab technology, including the emergency hospital in Wuhan that became famous because it was erected in just 10 days.

Endress+Hauser China has donated equipment during the corona crisis. Our instruments were installed in a clinic in Shanghai to ensure that it has clean water. Liquid analysis technology from    Endress+Hauser has also been deployed in Wuhan, where it is being used to monitor the wastewater treatment process.

The past weeks have shown that our Strategy 2020+, which we have been pursuing for five years, is focused on the right areas. The emphasis on our products, solutions and services and on the interaction and collaboration with our customers as well as our employees makes us more agile and creates opportunities. If we had not made such solid progress in the field of digitization in recent years, we would not have been in a position to deal with these new challenges so effectively. That’s why we will continue to pursue this path.

The same applies to our focus in the analysis area, from the lab to the process. The continuous  expansion of our sales and production networks has proven its worth, as have the large investments in innovative products. We will continue to work consistently on all of these strategic focal points.

One of these innovative products is the Micropilot FWR30, the first level sensor, which we developed specifically for the Industrial Internet of Things. The FWR30 is a radar-based sensor with 80-gigahertz technology designed for monitoring levels in plastic tanks – so-called intermediate bulk containers, or IBCs for short. These containers are often portable, or they are used at flexible installations. For this reason, refill orders are often placed only after the tank is already empty.

With the FWR30, this approach is a thing of the past. Our IIoT sensor is battery operated. It is fast and easy to commission and automatically connects to the cloud via wireless communications technology. The measurement values and the location of the container can be retrieved with a smartphone, tablet  or PC. This service is free of charge for customers who only want to monitor the fill levels. If needed, it can be expanded to a complete inventory management solution including supply chain tracking.

A lot of innovation can be found inside the new Proline Prosonic Flow G300/500. This instrument is an ultrasonic flowmeter for natural and process gas applications in the chemical or oil & gas industries.

Our developers worked on this instrument for six years. What makes the Pronsonic Flow G special is that it measures precisely and reliably even in wet gas applications. And in contrast to the differential pressure method, there is no pressure drop due to an orifice plate that wears over time and requires costly maintenance.

And that’s not all. With optional pressure and temperature sensors and software that we developed in- house, the Prosonic Flow G can calculate additional parameters and process variables such as mass and energy flow, methane content, density or viscosity. No other instrument on the market offers such versatility!

The next product fits in any pocket: the Liquiline Mobile CML18, a multiparameter handheld instrument for liquid analysis. The CML18 can be used to verify online measurement values from the process with sample measurements in the lab. The results from online and laboratory measurements often vary widely because the sensor technology, analysis process or environmental conditions differ.

This is where Liquiline Mobile now builds the bridge. We have taken Memosens, a technology proven in process applications for more than 15 years, and integrated it into a handheld instrument. All the sensor signals are converted into a robust digital signal that is not only resistant to moisture but guarantees data integrity. The Memosens technology also makes swapping out the sensor child’s play. And with our SmartBlue app, the Liquiline Mobile can also be integrated into Industry 4.0 applications.

For laboratory applications, Analytik Jena introduced the PlasmaQuant 9100 to the market. This analyzer utilizes optical emissions spectrometry with inductively coupled plasma – or ICP-OES for short – for routine chemical analyses. A unique feature of the PlasmaQuant 9100 is the high-resolution optics, which provide a high degree of sensitivity, accuracy and precision.

This instrument is designed for high throughput. It’s employed in the labs of our usual customers, such as in the food & beverage, life sciences and mining, minerals & metals industries. The PlasmaQuant 9100 analyzes sunflower oil for heavy metal impurities, tests antibiotics for contamination or determines the percentage of rare-earth elements in rock, for instance.

Product innovations such as these form the foundation of our economic success. But for us that’s not the only benchmark. With everything we do, we want to live up to our ecological and social responsibility as a company. Our goal is to further develop Endress+Hauser in all dimensions of sustainability.

When we erect new buildings, they fulfill demanding standards with respect to energy efficiency. In Canada we are even building a customer experience and process training center that will be energy autonomous. The building, in Burlington in the province of Ontario, will completely cover its energy needs from local regenerative sources and thus be CO2 neutral.

In the past year we launched the Endress+Hauser Water Challenge. With this initiative we’d like to improve access to clean water for people around the world. We kicked off the challenge last October with a charity run in Reinach. 250 employees participated as joggers or Nordic walkers, donating a small amount for each completed kilometer. The company then doubled the final tally.

The first international charity runs took place in Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Argentina. The coronavirus  has unfortunately prevented further events from being organized. But we’re happy to report that we were able to complete the initial aid project in Vietnam, where we permanently secured the  water  supply in a small village. We hope we can continue with the initiative very soon. Other aid projects have been identified in Brazil, India and Cameroon.

How will things proceed from here? The coronavirus will not disappear from our lives quickly. Hopefully, a vaccine and an effective medication will be developed in the very near future. But many months or even years could go by before that happens. Until then we have no choice but to accustom ourselves to the new normal and live with the pandemic.

In many countries we are in the process of returning some of the work-at-home employees to their offices in the company – maintaining the required distance to one another and strict hygiene measures including protective masks for when we leave our desks. Each loosening of the restrictions will require additional measures. This special situation will constantly demand new sets of behavior and novel approaches from us for an indefinite period of time, both at work and in our private lives.

We are still unable to estimate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But this crisis will no doubt leave its mark – on our customers and us. Furthermore, the coronavirus is not the only issue we are dealing with. The financial consequences of the pandemic are impacting us in an already difficult political and economic environment.

Tariff conflicts and political tensions, the structural crisis in the automotive sector and the pressure to decarbonize industry – all these things continue underneath the current crisis. The debt and low- interest problems were prevalent beforehand, and these issues will again gain momentum due to the measures governments and the central banks have implemented to shore up the economy and cushion the effects of the pandemic. It remains uncertain what the  short-, medium- and long-term   consequences will be for the global economy and our business. But there will be changes.

That can create a lot of concern. But fear and panic are not good advisers, and we cannot let ourselves be guided by them. Instead, we have to address the challenges with a cool head and a warm heart. We have to focus on responsibility and solidarity and reflect on our freedom. Because even in such a situation, we have a wide range of options at our disposal when it comes to taking action and shaping the future. And we will do everything we can to bring Endress+Hauser through this period.

As a company we are focused on safeguarding the health of people, securing jobs, doing our best to serve our customers and maintaining and developing our external network of suppliers, service providers and partners. To do that we are also prepared to accept financial losses in the short term.

Our experience from the 2008/2009 financial crisis will help us during this acute phase. Flexibility and agility are important whenever we find ourselves in a highly dynamic situation – that means moving  only as fast as we can respond to new situations as they arise and adjust the course when required. At the same time, we should not lose track of our long-term objectives. The combination of operational agility and long-term objectives is best mastered by people, our employees.

We can offset fluctuations in the workload of our production and sales centers by adjusting capacities and restructuring resources, by lowering working time accounts – even into the minus – and by making flexible use of vacation and additional company holidays. If necessary, we will also resort to working reduced hours for a while, but only after we have exhausted most of the other options at hand.

It goes without saying that all expenses will be subject to a detailed review. We will avoid expenses that under the circumstances are not necessary or at least not necessary at the moment.  Some minor   projects may be delayed. But we will carry out and complete the large investment projects as planned. We want to continue to develop our future capabilities; we want to maintain and strengthen them.

Because only when we adopt a long-term perspective can we safeguard the interests of our customers, employees and shareholders by strengthening the resilience and longevity of the company.

Endress+Hauser has always emerged from crises stronger. I’m convinced this time will be no different. Why? Because we have always performed solidly and made provisions during good times. Because we have a shareholder family behind us that is loyal to our customers and employees and takes its entrepreneurial responsibility seriously. And because we are an excellent company with enthusiastic customers, tremendous employees, an outstanding infrastructure and a unique portfolio.

But above all, we have a sustainable business model. At Endress+Hauser, everything we do is important for our customers. We can help them become even better and help them make their processes, products and production more efficient – in all aspects – so that they can increase quality, raise productivity and use fewer resources. This brings our customers forward in good times and even more so in difficult  times. And, after all, this makes the world a better place in which to live.

New Titanium sensor for Emerson ultrasonic gas flowmeters

Emerson has released the Daniel T-200, a titanium-housed transducer, for its gas ultrasonic flow meter product line, marking the first use of metal 3D printing to enhance the acoustic performance of ultrasonic flow meters in gas custody transfer applications. The robust design of the T-200 provides increased reliability, uptime and safety while achieving the highest accuracy class attainable in gas flow measurement.

In an ultrasonic flow meter, transducers generate acoustic signals that are sent back and forth across the fluid stream. The difference in the transit times of these signals is used to determine the fluid flow velocity. Signal quality and strength are critical to measurement accuracy, which is paramount in custody transfer applications. An error of only 0.1% can equate to hundreds of thousands of Euros annually, in a large diameter high pressure pipeline.

“The mini-horn array of the T200 could not be made without metal 3D printing technology, making it transformational to the sound quality and performance achievable through a titanium barrier,” said Kerry Groeschel, director of ultrasonic technology, Emerson. “Emerson is committed to developing innovative solutions that help our customers achieve safer, more efficient operations.”

emerson’s-titanium-housed-gas-ultrasonic-transducer-delivers-enhanced-performance-long-term-reliability-in-extreme-wet-sour-corrosive-chemical-gas-environments-en-us-6439466

This all-metal sensor housing provides a barrier from corrosive hydrocarbon fluids and wet gas, thereby extending the life of transducer components and ensuring stable performance. This unique design allows the meter to be hydrotested with transducers in place, steam cleaned while in the operating line and blown down – with no limits on the rate at which the meter can be depressurised.

The T-200 can also be safely extracted while the meter is under pressure without special high-pressure extraction tools, which reduces the possibility of greenhouse gas emissions during an extraction. The capsule which contains the piezoelectric crystal – used to create and detect the ultrasonic sound waves – is retractable as a single piece, for simplicity and ease of use.

The new design is rated for a wide range of operating conditions, including pressures from 1 bar gauge (barg)/103 Kilopascal (kPa) to 255 barg/25,855 kPa and temperatures from -50 to 125 degrees Celsius.

For more information please consult the Emerson ultrasonic flowmeter website.

E+H on course for growth in 2020

Endress+Hauser has reported on their 2019 financial year, and confirms they remain on course for growth. In 2019 the Group increased net sales by almost 8 percent, to over 2.6 billion euros. The Swiss measurement and automation technology specialist created 400 new jobs worldwide. At the end of the year the company had more than 14,300 employees.

“We have grown across all fields of activity, industries and regions,” said Matthias Altendorf, CEO of the Endress+Hauser Group. The strongest impetus came from the Asian region. However Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East all developed positively, but at a much slower pace. “With good product innovations, we have set a clear benchmark in the industry.”

In 2019, order entry rose faster than sales. “Endress+Hauser has started 2020 with a significantly higher order backlog than the year before,” reported Chief Financial Officer Dr Luc Schultheiss. He confirmed that in 2019 “The Group was able to maintain return on sales at the previous year’s level. We are satisfied with our profit before taxes.”

However E+H has lower growth expectations for 2020. They anticipate sales growth in the mid-single-digit percentage range, and aim to maintain profitability. “However, there are still many uncertainties,” stressed Luc Schultheiss.

E+H will present its audited 2019 financial figures on 12 May 2020, in Basel, Switzerland.

Delta Controls acquired Mobrey….

Last April, Delta Controls were pleased to announce that they had signed an agreement with Emerson to purchase its Mobrey line of measurement products manufactured in Slough, UK – previously a part of the Measurement Instrumentation  business within Emerson Automation Solutions, and closely aligned with the Rosemount products. To ensure a smooth transfer of the Mobrey-branded products over to Delta, the transaction involved a two-step process.

  • Emerson designated Delta as the exclusive global distributor for the Mobrey product lines, commencing on 1st April 2019.
  • The official transfer of Mobrey (employees, inventory, intellectual property, product approvals, etc) was to take place no later than 30th September 2019.

For Delta Controls, their new enlarged business offers customers and distributors a wider range of leading instrumentation products from a single supplier and, importantly, a long-term commitment to support these brands and technologies.

The Mobrey portfolio of point level alarms and continuous level measurement products provides reliable measurement, monitoring and control of liquids and dry products. The manufacture of the Mobrey products will continue at the Slough premises ensuring continuity of supply and quality standards.

Chris Webborn, Director for Nuclear Applications at Delta Controls, said ‘We had been looking for some time for a partner for level products that would meet our high standards of reliability and value. In Mobrey we have this in a great complementary series of products backed by a superb name and reputation’.

The business is now renamed Delta Mobrey Ltd, and the new expanded Delta Mobrey Product Overview Catalogue is now available, including the Mobrey products now exclusively sold and distributed through Delta Mobrey Ltd.

Trusted globally for rugged reliability, Mobrey products have been providing industries with highly capable measurement products for over 100 years, with a proven range of Switches, Controllers, Transmitters and Steam and Water Level Boiler Control Systems, including the renowned Hydrastep 2468.

Westermo acquires Virtual Access Ltd

Westermo, a business entity of the Beijer Group, has acquired 100% of Virtual Access Limited, an Ireland-based technology company specialising in wireless industrial routers and gateways, plus managed connectivity services for customers in the utility, traffic management and telecommunications sectors.

Virtual Access has 40 employees and operations in Dublin, Ireland, with annual sales of approximately Euro12M (~130 MSEK). With the earlier acquisition of Neratec Solutions AG, a specialist in WLAN solutions used within the railway industry, this latest acquisition provides Westermo with an extensive industrial wireless portfolio to support remote data networking applications in a broad range of demanding applications.

“I am pleased that we today announce this second complementary acquisition to the business entity Westermo. We operate in markets where digitalisation is growing rapidly in an increasingly connected world and the acquisition of Virtual Access strengthens our position further”, said Per Samuelsson, President and CEO of Beijer Group.

Jenny Sjödahl, CEO of Westermo added: “The acquisition of Virtual Access will strengthen Westermo’s offering to the power distribution and utility markets, by providing an expanded remote access technology portfolio supported by our worldwide sales network. This acquisition supports our ‘WeGrow’ strategy in a superb way. Virtual Access in Ireland will become the technology centre for cellular remote access solutions within Westermo”.

Henry Brankin, Managing Director of Virtual Access Ltd, commented “We are very happy to join Westermo and the Beijer Group. Westermo’s worldwide sales organisation will ensure further global market reach and our complementary technologies will create a strong offering to a range of industries”.

The acquisition will have limited impact on Beijer Group’s earnings in 2019 and is expected to contribute in 2020 in line with the forecast Westermo profitability level.

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Left to right: Tom Hughes (Former Chairman), Philip Duffy (CFO) & Henry Brankin (MD) from Virtual Access, accompanied by Jenny Sjödahl (CEO, Westermo), Per Samuelsson (CEO, Beijer Group) and Joakim Laurén (CFO, Beijer Group).

Deutsche Telekom and Endress+Hauser co-operate over 5G data

With its campus networks, Deutsche Telekom offers an infrastructure for the smart factory of tomorrow. Together with partners from industry, Europe’s largest telecommunications company wants to further expand its 5G ecosystem for industry. In the process automation sector, Deutsche Telekom is now co-operating with Endress+Hauser.

The aim of the co-operation is to develop joint offers in the field of measurement and automation technology for the process industry. This involves the integration of measuring instruments and accessories into the next generation of mobile communication networks, as well as the development of digital services based on them. Both companies have signed a corresponding memorandum of understanding and are now working on a co-ordinated timetable.

Measuring instruments with a mobile communication module

Endress+Hauser is one of the first manufacturers to equip its field devices with mobile communication modules and to connect existing installations to 5G networks – via newly developed HART gateways. This enables a large number of instruments to transmit a wealth of process and device data in parallel and in real time. These can, for example, be used in cloud applications for the predictive maintenance of process plants.

Campus networks open second signal path

“In addition to the actual measured values, our instruments record a wealth of information from the process and about the sensor,” said Matthias Altendorf, CEO of Endress+Hauser. “5G campus networks open up a second signal path that is independent of the main plant control system: this makes it possible to separately tap this potential. This will enable E+H to link value chains more closely across company boundaries and make industrial processes more efficient.”

Strong partners for smart production

“Building a complete 5G ecosystem for industry will accelerate the pace of digitalization in industry,” explains Claudia Nemat, member of the Deutsche Telekom Board of Management, Technology and Innovation. “We look forward to working with renowned and experienced partners.” In addition to the partnership with network supplier Ericsson, the telecommunications company now also cooperates with E&K Automation, a manufacturer of driverless transport systems, and Konica Minolta, which offers augmented reality glasses, among other products.

Yokogawa acquires RAP International

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has signed an agreement with UK-based RAP International (RAP) for Yokogawa to acquire the company and make RAP a wholly-owned subsidiary.

RAP specialises in providing digitised solutions that support risk assessment, management of the permit to work (PtW) process, and governance of control of work (CoW) for all plant maintenance activities.

Integrating RAP’s electronic risk assessment and PtW software solutions with Yokogawa’s real-time plant condition monitoring will improve safety assurance, reduce turnaround times, and support customers in providing enhanced protection for their people, assets, and the environment.

Manufacturing plants rely on scheduled and unscheduled maintenance activities to keep operating, ranging from daily rounds by field service personnel to the replacement of major pieces of equipment that can require shutdown of the entire plant for days or more. Control of work is the setting in place of a predetermined system for maintenance so that all necessary steps are carried out to prevent accidents and injury to people, damage to equipment, and unwarranted release of materials into the environment. However, in many plants these CoW systems are still paper-based or semi-automated through a combination of bespoke spreadsheets and document management systems, which can contribute to human error during operations.

Since 1994, RAP has been developing and implementing software solutions with integrated best practices that let customers digitise their CoW processes to make their maintenance activities safer, more accurate, and more efficient. RAPnet, its flagship product, is a comprehensive and easy to use electronic CoW system for automating maintenance processes: it is built around a large knowledge base incorporating decades of accumulated first-hand knowledge and experience. The digitised off-the-shelf solution includes standard modules for safety risk assessments, PtW management, management of change, interlocks and overrides, and isolation management. The system is complemented by consulting services as well as mobile and cloud-based functionality to fully deliver on the digital ambitions of customers. With support for 25 languages, it has already been implemented at over 150 locations in 30 countries in the oil, gas, chemical, utilities, and steel sectors.

Yokogawa provides industrial automation solutions to optimise productivity and efficiency whilst at the same time assuring plant safety and asset integrity. The company offers solutions that can monitor the health of plant equipment, and a digital platforms to support field maintenance. RAP solutions will further enhance the Yokogawa asset and safety assurance value proposition. Yokogawa will expand the availability of RAP consultancy services and road-tested systems through its global sales network, starting in Europe. The company will also carry out development work to integrate these into its existing technology portfolio and create a digital transformation platform that enables real-time monitoring of both plant assets and maintenance procedures.

Simon Rogers, head of the Yokogawa Advanced Solutions Division, commented: “Yokogawa believes that to create unique value for our customers it is important to integrate domain knowledge into the technology solutions we deliver. RAP systems are built around manufacturing industry best practices developed over the past 25 years, enabling customers to digitise and transform their maintenance safety processes, better protect their workforce, and improve operational efficiency. One of the strategies laid out in our Transformation 2020 mid-term business plan is to expand our OPEX business, so in line with that we look forward to making this outstanding addition to Yokogawa’s safety assurance portfolio available to our customers around the world as soon as possible.”