Review of the MTEC 2008 Exhibition

What was there that was worth seeing, for the average visitor, at MTEC? Our review tries to pull out some different aspects of the old products, and the new products on display this year

MTEC is one of a group of shows, with others co-located in adjacent NEC Halls, including Practical Vacuum and Machine Building: previously organised by Trident Exhibitions, and referred to as the February Exhibitions, they were always scheduled around Valentine’s Day.

The shows are now run by Canon Communications, and obviously they have other plans for Valentine’s day, so they are moving the Exhibitions next year to be in March, 25th-26th to be exact.

Hopefully this will give them time to re-organise the admission booth system, which caused major delays for visitors just trying to collect pre-booked tickets this year, as Eoin O’Riain of Read-out reported: http://www.processingtalk.com/news/rdo/rdo137.html.

* IMC GROUP: HANWELL, LAMERHOLM AND JEKYLL.

The newly formed IMC Group were exhibiting at MTEC with their three main product ranges, Hanwell, Lamerholm and Jekyll.

IMC seems to be concentrated around data logging and alarm systems, via wireless or GSM links, with the Hanwell release being based around an alarm unit that sends text messages out until there is an acknowledgement from someone who will deal with the problem.

Lamerholm initially specialized in damage deterrent labels, with their ShockWatch indicator, to visibly show that the package or shipment has been subjected to excessive G-forces from mishandling.

The logging version of this, ShockLog, produces a record from a datalogger, and now to this they have added the TiltWatch, incorporating a new Tilt and Roll monitoring accelerometer, to record when other events occur during transport.

Capabilities then developed into other alarm systems for transport problems, such as for temperature monitoring in refrigerated containers, to alarm when the temperature rises above a trip point: and there too is an application for the wireless or GSM systems available from the rest of the group.

Historically Hanwell has been involved in Building Management Systems, with humidity and temperature monitoring sensors, and one recent project again used Jekyll wireless technology to transmit signals from several remote buildings across a road to the main control room.

Half the battle of applying modern sensor and wireless technology is having the customer interface where the needs can be identified, and then solved.

Jekyll expertise in datalogging, Automatic Meter Reading systems, remote modems, wireless and GSM technologies is applicable to many areas: Jekyll are seeking new distributors for these products across the world.

* WIRELESS AND USB: JUMO, ESI TECHNOLOGY AND LASCAR.

More wireless temperature transmission was on the Jumo stand, with their Wtrans system, a simple IP67 temperature sensor with a battery and transmitter in the handle, supplied with platinum sensors from 50mm to 1000mm long.

Back in the monitoring centre, one receiver monitor can deal with up to 16 wireless probes, and even provide 4 analogue outputs.

Similarly on the Ellison Sensors (ESI Technology) stand: while Ellison, from Wrexham, are well known for their silicon-on-sapphire pressure sensors, they had their USB connected GS4200-USB pressure transmitter on display, which can be directly logged, recorded, and displayed on a graphical chart, and is offered at around GBP200.

Ellison offer USB sensors for pressure, temperature, load and vibration monitoring.

Lascar Electronics also had low cost USB powered thermocouple and temperature sensors on display this year, with a humidity sensor as well to enable environmental monitoring with email alerts.

DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS: PROFIBUS, ETHERNET AND IO-LINK.

The Profibus stand was manned by Andy Verwer from MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University) who run many of the UK based engineer and installer courses on Profibus and Profinet systems.

Apart from the scheduled courses and seminars around the country, the Profibus Competence Centre at MMU can arrange specific customer training courses on site, given a reasonable number of delegates.

The take-up of Profibus in the UK industries is growing, particularly in the water industry, and one of the reasons for this growth can be traced back to the support available from MMU and other similar organisations world-wide.

Newly announced, the International Profibus User Conference will take place near Stratford-on-Avon at the end of June this year.

On the next stand Geoff Hodgkinson was representing his Industrial Ethernet magazine, a technology that is also seeing considerable growth in industry.

Then a new name to me was IO-Link, shown before the main release on the Balluff stand, a simplified digital communications and wiring system mainly aimed at use with multiple proximity switches, which can also be interfaced as a network subsidiary to Profibus or Profinet.

* FLOWMETERS: FLOTECH AND BRONKHORST.

Flotech Solutions, the UK distributor for the newly independent Brooks Instruments, have added some new agency lines to their flow capability, with the Swedish Eletta range of orifice plate based flow indicators, and a Flotech branded range of flap type flow indicators.

Over in the Practical Vacuum section of the event, Bronkhorst were showing their re-released Mass-View bar-graph type indicator, offered as a replacement for glass tube VA flowmeters on gases, but adding an electronic output.

* PRESSURE: ROXSPUR SENSIT AND VISHAY NOBEL.

The Roxspur Measurement and Control stand featured a Speedway bike ridden by Josh Auty of the Coventry Bees: while he is sponsored by Roxspur and was under 15 Champion in 2004 and 2005, the link to their pressure, flow or temperature measurement and control products seemed a bit tenuous.

Apparently such bikes do not have brakes, they have other methods of control.

Anyway the main display was of the Sensit range of submersible sensors for water level measurement, now available in diameters ranging from 25mm down to 17.5mm.

More pressure measurement sensors were visible on the Vishay stand, starting with strain gauge weighing systems, but also showing special pressure sensors for offshore use in drilling applications.

Another pressure range on show, maybe not yet fully released, were the transmitters for level and pressure from Klay-Instruments BV from Holland.

* GAS MONITORING: EDINBURGH INSTRUMENTS.

It is always nice to think that you have seen a bit of modern technology at an exhibition like MTEC.

Edinburgh Instruments sell infrared gas monitoring systems, in stand-alone boxes, but also as pcboards for use by OEMs who need to monitor gas compositions, for refrigerants, CO2, methane, and several other gases.

These look to be small simple instruments, in a standard enclosure: but when you get to see inside, the real life use of the NDIR laser based measurement becomes obvious.

You can see the sample gas tube, as long as 100mm in some cases, fed from the sample point by a simple suction pump where needed, and the laser transmitter and detector are sitting on opposite ends of the tube.

Optical and spectral measurement is one of the most interesting ways science can be applied to measure practical things, like in this case the concentration of a gas in a sample.

If astronomers can do it for galaxies millions of miles away, by adapting the telescope invented by Galileo, then instrument engineers can do it anywhere they can stick a gas sampling tube! But then this just shows the concept is not new, but maybe the devices required, which have presumably come from modern fibre-optic telephone communications cable systems, are new, and industrial instruments can benefit from the spin-off.

* MOISTURE MEASUREMENT: MICHELL, BROWNELL AND VAISALA.

Michell Instruments showed their S8000 Integrale Cooled Mirror Dewpointmeter product range for the first time at MTEC.

Available in several versions, the instrument offers unmatched accuracy in dew point measurements for both calibration and process critical applications, down to -60C.

Also on show for the first time is the Michell DryCheck dew point instrument.

The DryCheck has been developed by Michell as a response to demands from customers for an accurate, reliable, stable, but economic instrument, with simple sampling system, that can be easily installed for use in a number of dew point measurement applications.

Brownell showed the AGM Container Controls range of products from the USA, including their pressure and vacuum breather valves: AGM also act as a Brownell distributor for the USA.

These breather valves complement the Brownell range of desiccants and humidity protection products.

On the Vaisala stand, the Humicap humidity and temperature transmitter series HMT330 offered several new features, including a data logging option and a USB connection cable for computers.

In addition, the HMT330 has a new display with a white background light for easier reading.

The data logging option is a module that is slotted into the transmitter, with an enhanced memory that can store data for three measured parameters.

* TEMPERATURE AND INFRA-RED: FLIR SYSTEMS, IMPAC INFRARED AND LABFACILITY.

Electrical and mechanical fault detection are the prime applications for the Flir Systems ThermaCAM thermal imaging cameras, and there is a model in the range to suit every job and every budget.

For a limited period only, any order for the ThermaCAM T400, T360 or InfraCAM will be upgraded to a complete operator’s kit, with an extended warranty as well, worth around GBP50.

IMPAC Infrared, now part of the Lumasense group of companies, showed the newly developed Series 50 pyrometers for the first time in the UK.

Based on the well proven IMPAC digital technology these fibre optic pyrometers offer exceptional performance previously only found in high end instruments.

Labfacility, apart from manufacturing temperature sensors and transmitters, is offering to supply components and installation fittings for sensor manufacturers for other sensor manufacturers, after a major investment in the CNC machinery needed to produce such parts as compression glands, pot seals, bayonet caps and adaptors, thermopockets and swaged tips.

In a necessarily quick tour round some of the many stands at MTEC I did not have the chance to attend any of the presentation lectures also organised in the exhibition, like many of the visitors.

Many of these presentations undoubtedly had been well thought out, and I hope their authors are able to present their stories to a more attentive and larger gathering at some future date: maintaining coherence while fighting with the Tannoy system and the passing traffic of Exhibition visitors along the aisles was not an easy task.

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An infrastructure for operational excellence: FF

The story of how Brunner Mond (UK), a major producer of sodium carbonate (soda ash), replaced the outdated control system at its main UK plant with the latest process automation technology

This review was provided by Phil Stoor, a Senior Project Manager at Brunner Mond, and is submitted by the Fieldbus Foundation.

Brunner Mond (UK), is a major producer of sodium carbonate (soda ash) for the European market from the Northwich East plant in Cheshire, UK.

Brunner Mond sought a modern control system that would improve its operational efficiency, reduce plant maintenance costs, increase safety, and minimise unplanned shutdowns due to equipment failure.

After considering various competitive approaches, Brunner Mond installed a digital automation infrastructure based on FOUNDATION Fieldbus.

During the first phase of the DCS replacement, fieldbus technology was employed on two Solvay towers used to carbonate ammoniated brine to form sodium bicarbonate crystals.

This project proved to be successful, and set the stage for implementation of additional fieldbus controls on the Brunner Mond Northwich production operation.

INTRODUCTION.

The Brunner Mond Group is a leading global manufacturer of alkaline chemicals with production facilities in Cheshire, UK; Delfzijl, The Netherlands; Magadi, Kenya; and Durban, South Africa.

The company is the largest producer of sodium carbonate in the UK, and the second largest soda ash manufacturer in Europe.

It is also the world’s third largest producer of refined sodium bicarbonate.

Brunner Mond produces two varieties of soda ash, heavy and light.

The former is a vital raw material for making glass, and the latter for making detergents.

Both are used in the manufacture of industrial chemicals.

Refined sodium bicarbonate is a key ingredient in pharmaceuticals and toothpaste, while other grades are used for bakery products and deodorants.

BACKGROUND.

Before the advent of industrial manufacturing processes, sodium carbonate came from natural sources, either vegetable or mineral.

Soda made from ashes of certain plants or seaweed has been known since antiquity.

In 1861, Ernest Solvay perfected a soda ash production technique based on common salt (NaCl), limestone (CaCO3) and ammonia.

The Solvay process involves saturating a concentrated brine solution with ammonia to form ammonium salts, and then with carbon dioxide (made by burning lime).

This produces ammonium bicarbonate, which reacts with the brine to form ammonium chloride and sodium carbonate.

This material, in the presence of excess carbon dioxide, is converted to sodium bicarbonate, which precipitates out of the solution and can easily be decomposed to soda ash by heating.

The resulting carbon dioxide can be recycled, and the ammonium chloride treated to recover reusable ammonia.

The Solvay process produces light soda ash with a specific weight or pouring density of about 500 kg/m3.

The light ash is transformed by recrystallisation, first to sodium carbonate monohydrate, and finally to heavy soda ash after drying (dehydration).

Heavy soda ash has a pouring density of about 1000 kg/m3.

PROCESS OVERVIEW.

The Brunner Mond Northwich, Cheshire, facility, constructed in the early 1870s, consists of two manufacturing plants with a production capacity of approximately 900,000 tonnes per annum (tpa).

Together, the plants form one of Europe’s largest manufacturing operations for alkaline-related products.

The Northwich East plant includes 23 identical, cast iron Solvay towers, used to carbonate ammoniated brine to produce sodium bicarbonate crystals in ammonium chloride liquor.

The carbon dioxide is produced in kilns where limestone is burnt using coke.

At the top, a concentrated solution of sodium chloride and ammonia enters the tower.

As the saturated solution moves from the top of the tower downward, it reacts exothermically with the carbon dioxide to form sodium bicarbonate crystals and is cooled.

These crystals are collected at the bottom of the tower and transferred to rotary vacuum filters, where excess solution (filtrate) is filtered out.

The crystals are then washed in a bicarbonate solution, forming a cake-like substance ready for drying.

PROJECT REQUIREMENTS.

Due to increased competitive pressures and equipment obsolescence, the Brunner Mond Northwich East plant needed improved performance and availability from its process automation system.

For the last 30 years, the facility had employed a supervisory computer with discrete controllers installed on the Solvay towers.

Each tower has temperature and flow loops, including liquid and gas counter flows.

Field devices distributed across the unit operations handle process measurements.

Soda ash production demands manufacturers maintain the correct ratio of gas to liquor during the Solvay process.

It also requires precise control of temperature points throughout the production sequences.

With the analogue control system and discrete controller, operators could not easily maximise production efficiency, nor could they run the process closer to quality specifications.

Furthermore, the discrete controllers and supervisory system had reached a state of obsolescence resulting in frequent downtime, increased safety risks, and rising maintenance costs.

This situation posed significant business and technical challenges for the Northwich operation.

In 2001, Brunner Mond determined that a control system upgrade was in order.

The company sought to optimise process measurements and control using the latest automation technology.

Its requirements included a common interface for sequence control, continuous control, engineering, maintenance and reporting.

At the same time, management wanted to reduce the plant vulnerability to equipment failure and improve its compliance with stringent environmental standards.

Brunner Mond hoped to leverage efficiency gains realized from the new controls to increase product yields, reduce raw material consumption, and decrease energy costs.

The upgrade would also provide an opportunity to reduce operator workload, migrate to a predictive maintenance strategy, and install an “evergreen” control infrastructure.

In evaluating potential automation technologies, Brunner Mond had to decide which solution met the unique demands of its Brownfield soda ash business.

The company needed a technology appropriate for its employee skills and maintenance/project resource levels.

Most importantly, the new control platform had to be at the correct point in its lifecycle with the assurance of long-term industry support and product availability.

In terms of future investments, Brunner Mond wanted the freedom to choose vendors and equipment meeting its specific operational requirements, as well as the flexibility to implement a common and open system architecture supported by “best-in-class” engineering, operations and maintenance practices.

Ultimately, the project team for the DCS replacement faced two key challenges: First, to prove that the chosen automation solution was suitable for a rigorous, 24/7 process environment; and second, to integrate the modernised controls with existing production assets.

This required team members to not only analyse the overall operational requirements for the plant, but also assess all possible project risks and develop a complete understanding of the new technology.

CONTROL SOLUTION.

After considering various competitive approaches, Brunner Mond selected the Emerson Process Management DeltaV system using Foundation fieldbus technology as its next generation DCS replacement.

As part of the upgrade, the project team was tasked with integrating the existing SCADA system into the new control architecture.

Foundation technology is a digital automation infrastructure enabling significant plant performance and economic improvements.

Unlike a traditional control platform, this system design is intended to unify open, scalable integration; distributed control; process integrity; and business intelligence as part of a single, plant-wide solution.

Using asset management software, the new, fieldbus-based control system extracts information contained in measurement devices and shares this Process Variable (PV) data across the plant enterprise.

The system uses the OPC standard to ensure configuration, calibration, status, performance, and health of devices are accessible plant-wide.

Predictive maintenance capabilities, improved process control, and increased dissemination of information are benefits not found in a conventional DCS system.

For Brunner Mond, the choice of a Foundation automation infrastructure made good business sense.

The technology (which is included in the IEC 61158-2 international standard) has a rapidly expanding global user base; increasingly, it is the solution of choice for large Greenfield projects – as well as many retrofit projects.

Foundation technology eliminates the built-in obsolescence of traditional I/O, and meets the need for an open, tightly integrated automation platform enabling plants to realize Capital Expense (CAPEX) and Operating Expense (OPEX) savings.

More than a fieldbus protocol, Foundation fieldbus technology removes the constraints of outdated, proprietary control systems by allowing end users to “mix and match” field instruments from different suppliers, and integrate networks, sub-systems and devices across the plant enterprise.

All registered, Foundation-compliant instruments are tested to a known specification and verified as interoperable with other registered devices.

Foundation technology is intended primarily for process control, field-level interface, and device integration.

Running at 31.25 kbit/s, the H1 fieldbus interconnects devices such as transmitters, valves and actuators on a field network.

Where appropriate, the Foundation solution also provides a High Speed Ethernet (HSE) implementation, running at speeds of 100 Mbit/s or higher, for use as a control backbone.

Foundation-compliant instruments comprise a function block application, act as a publisher and subscriber of PVs, transmit alarms and trends, and provide server functionality for host access and management functions.

Devices can function as a scheduler and time master for regulating communication on a fieldbus segment.

They can also be used for bus interfaces in process control systems or in linking devices.

The Foundation automation infrastructure makes the highest possible use of “smart” instrumentation and advanced diagnostics.

The technology offers a robust platform for automating continuous processes, and provides a field network for measurement and control in which each device has its own intelligence and communicates via an all-digital, serial, two-way communications system.

Modern fieldbus instruments can transmit multiple variables, helping to minimise process variability, as well as device identification information.

This enables collection and transmission of instrument diagnostics, thus reducing unnecessary shutdowns and improving safety and regulatory compliance.

The Foundation solution also reduces complexity by offering a standard engineering toolbox, standard Device Descriptions (DDs), and a standard Graphic User Interface (GUI) approach to configuration for all devices and vendors.

For plants with mission-critical control applications, Foundation technology offers the advantage of deterministic, peer-to-peer communications.

Users can choose either control in the field or control in the host, with the most complex automation tasks easily accommodated.

A fieldbus control strategy restores single loop integrity to the process – improving loop reliability and increasing availability.

Foundation technology also reduces Central Processing Unit (CPU) loading, and provides a “lean” system architecture with fewer wires running from junction boxes to marshalling panels and I/O terminations than a traditional control system.

Fewer wires and more I/O channels decrease control room footprint and panel space.

As such, loop and wiring diagrams, panel drawings and cable schedules are greatly simplified.

Installation is easier than with a traditional system since several devices can be multi-dropped on a single pair of wires.

SYSTEM DESIGN.

During the first phase of the Brunner Mond DCS replacement project, Foundation-based controls were installed on two of the Solvay towers, which carbonate ammoniated brine produced in the absorber plant.

Each tower operates on two separate fieldbus segments using redundant interfaces.

The upgrade also included installation of digital instrumentation, including temperature transmitters (TT), vortex flow meters (VFM), electromagnetic flowmeters (EFM) and control valves (CV) for controlling and monitoring process conditions.

Fieldbus device locations on the towers include: 7th level – 1 EFM, 2 CVs; 6th level – 1 TT; 5th level – 1 CV; 4th level – 1 VFM, 1 CV; 3rd level – 1 VFM, 2 CVs, 1 TT; 2nd level – 1 CV; Ground – 1 TT.

The H1 fieldbus topology utilizes a “Crow’s Foot” trunk (~150 m) and spurs (<25 m).

The device network incorporates one junction box per tower at the 7th level (plus terminators), with two segments per junction box.

The segments interconnect a maximum of seven devices (including four valves) each, and support deterministic communications with publisher/subscriber and VCR functions.

Standard Foundation function blocks are used throughout all devices.

The fieldbus system enables operators to execute hybrid control on the Solvay tower process, with PID algorithms and sequences located in the host.

Using this approach, an Analog Input (AI) executes in a fieldbus transmitter, a PID block runs in a host controller, and an Analog Output (AO) block executes in a digital valve controller.

Both the AI block and the AO block publish data to the H1 card, and the H1 card publishes data to the AO block.

The H1 card contains the Link Active Scheduler (LAS) and transfers the published data per the LAS schedule.

The timing of the controller execution rate, I/O scan rate, and macrocycle scan rate is asynchronous.

In this case, the macrocycle execution rate is held at 1.0 second.

Module execution cycles at 2.0 seconds and sequence module execution cycles at 5.0 seconds.

Thanks to the flexibility of the fieldbus topology, project engineers were able to situate field instruments in the most advantageous locations across the unit operations.

Unlike the old control system, for example, flow meters are now installed in straight, unobstructed pipe runs to improve their measurement accuracy, and temperature transmitters are placed at the correct process points.

USER CONSIDERATIONS.

During the evaluation of its DCS replacement project, Brunner Mond identified key system engineering, operations, maintenance and installation considerations for users of Foundation technology.

For example, even though a fieldbus control system results in faster system I/O and panel design, easier configuration and less documentation (in this instance, two segment sheets vs six loop sheets), it requires additional upfront detailed design.

Users must also identify their fundamental control strategy and system topology earlier in the project planning.

From an operational standpoint, Foundation technology helps plant personnel have greater trust in the accuracy and reliability of control instrumentation.

Consequently, they are free to concentrate on other important production tasks.

Fieldbus-based controls are proven to reduce unplanned downtime, false alarms, and process variability.

Users can achieve higher quality measurements – including increased valve positioning accuracy – as well as tighter control with increased stability.

Plant maintenance departments are greatly impacted by a fieldbus strategy – for example, technicians may face additional training requirements in the initial stages of a project.

With a fieldbus control system, however, there are fewer hardware components to service, fewer troubleshooting trips into the field, and a shorter Mean Time To Repair (MTTR).

Plus, fieldbus-based asset management solutions support predictive maintenance programmes that reduce the need for unscheduled equipment repair and downtime.

Last, but not least, end users should understand the changes in construction and installation brought about by Foundation technology.

A fieldbus control system generally contains “less of everything,” including field wiring, marshalling panels, and instrument connections.

Although off-site pre-commissioning activities may take somewhat longer with fieldbus, the on-site installation, commissioning and start-up phases of a project are often much shorter.

RESULTS and BENEFITS.

The Brunner Mond project team, including a group of subcontractors, successfully installed a Foundation automation infrastructure as part of a controlled test.

Based on the success of this effort, the size of the fieldbus control system has multiplied.

Digital automation is now in place on 14 of the 23 Solvay towers, with the remaining towers scheduled for completion during the coming year.

All of the project objectives have been met, with the added benefit of a higher than expected plant yield.

The new, intelligent, digital control system enables plant personnel to create and maintain the ideal conditions for production of soda ash crystals.

It also allows advanced sequencing of the Solvay towers to ensure optimum product quality in the shortest possible time.

Operators now have a greater understanding of the process, and are controlling carbonating and crystallisation sequences more efficiently than they have been controlled before.

Best of all, the control system upgrade resulted in process efficiency gains enabling Brunner Mond to increase its throughput without added raw material or energy consumption.

This discovery of “free” product will provide economic payback on technology investments in fewer than 24 months, with the benefits going straight to the company bottom-line.

To date, operational cost savings have increased the profitability of the Northwich East plant by at least 2 percent.

CONCLUSION.

Foundation technology “changes the playing field” for process manufacturers like Brunner Mond.

It enables an automation infrastructure for operational excellence, unifying open, scalable integration; distributed control; process integrity; and business intelligence – and delivering bottomline performance benefits.

Today, a growing community of fieldbus end users is achieving lower operating costs, improved safety, higher reliability and increased maintainability.

REFERENCES.

1) Kiefer, DM, “Soda Ash, Solvay Style,” Chemistry At Work, Vol 11, No2, pp 87-88, 90 (February 2002).

2) “Process Brief for Soda Ash,” European Soda Ash Producers Association, Issue #3, pp 11 (March 2004).

3) “Investment in High Quality Soda Ash,” Glass Magazine, DMG World Media: (May 2003).

4) The original article is provided on the FF UK website, see http://www.fieldbus.org/images/stories/international/emea/united-kingdom/documents/fieldbus_brunnermond_whitepaper.pdf.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR.

Phil Stoor has 37 years of experience in control and instrumentation from a wide range of client and vendor industries.

He is a chartered engineer currently working as a Senior Project Engineer for Brunner Mond leading control system and infrastructure upgrade projects at their Northwich East and West plants.

He has also lectured on aspects of Instrumentation and Commissioning at courses run by the University Leeds for over 20 years.

His main professional area of interest is the upgrading of measurement and control systems for chemical manufacturing processes.

He has experience in aerospace, nuclear, and bulk chemical industries.

The Yokogawa CentumVP presentation to journalists

Nick Denbow provides a view of the Yokogawa presentation in Amsterdam on 7 February where they outlined the direction of the extended Roadmap for their VigilantPlant, with the CentumVP DCS

This week, Yokogawa assembled most of the European Process industry journalists in Amsterdam for a major presentation on their achievements and plans for the future, in terms of the VigilantPlant concept, and their Centum DCS systems.

First there was a presentation in Orlando, for US based journalists, and another in Singapore for the Eastern hemisphere: then their staff flew on to Amsterdam to present in Europe, with a video link to South Africa, to provide the closest possible to a simultaneous multi-centre world-wide journalist briefing.

Yokogawa understand the need for such simultaneous information presentations to news media across the world, a new requirement because of the internet, with blogs and world-wide news websites like Processingtalk: this was just the first evidence of the considerable thought and market planning that has gone into their latest developments.

Yokogawa were the first to launch a DCS to provide plant control, in 1975, with the original Centum system: they reckon their launch beat the Honeywell launch by 3 months.

In another press launch last week they announced the first elements of the next generation – the 8th generation of the Centum system, the CentumVP (Ref 1).

EUROPEAN BACKGROUND.

Harry Hauptmeijer, the President of Yokogawa Europe, presented the report on the recent Yokogawa performance, naturally from a European angle.

The latest turnover figures for Yokogawa (FY06) show total sales of USD2790Million, +26% on the year before: with an average growth of industrial automation and control exceeding 10%pa over the past five years.

Their target is still to be number 1 in this industry by 2010.

Sales outside Japan were USD1400M, +19% on the previous year: in Europe the sales were USD400M, on schedule for USD500M in 2010.

Total Group profitability has been held/stabilised at 8% of sales for many years.

New Yokogawa offices have been opened in the last year in Aberdeen, and Bulgaria: there are others now being opened in the Czech Republic, and Turkey, plus an office in Switzerland to support the fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals business they see developing in the region.

In Africa the existing offices in South Africa and Angola will be supplemented by a new one in Nigeria, and there are many engineers based in Morocco and Algeria.

The Bucharest value resource centre is being expanded from 90 engineers to 200.

A new office in the Netherlands will consolidate the three existing offices into one complex.

The Rota flowmeter manufacturing facility in Wehr, in the South of Germany close to Zurich, is to be expanded to double in capacity, necessary since the sales output from the factory has already doubled in the last three years: the factory produces VA flowmeters and Coriolis mass-flow meters.

Major business activity has come from the BP Global Agreement, with significant BP projects on Wytch Farm and offshore on Bruce: then Saudi Arabia is a major centre of growth, with many major projects.

VIGILANT-PLANT.

VP, for VigilantPlant, has been the branding for the software features and overall planning introduced by Yokogawa over the last three years, part of their VigilantPlant Roadmap.

This is all presumably the result of the business planning and marketing activities led by Satoru Kurosu, who was originally systems sales manager for Europe, based in Amsterdam from 92-96, and then moved into these other functions.

VigilantPlant has used the standard strong brand phrasing “See Clearly, Know in Advance, Act with Agility” so much that these phrases are popping up in unexpected places elsewhere in the industry (we will return to this later).

Over the last three years Yokogawa have added to the capability of the Centum system.

These steps started in 2005, with the seamless integration of ProSafe safety systems, followed by the PRM, Plant Resource Manager which added Asset Excellence in 2006, then CAMS as a computerised alarm management system for Production Excellence with Centum, in 2007.

The objective now is to move towards plant ‘Operational Excellence’ with CentumVP, by the next steps of adding Production Supervision and Tracking, followed by a Real Time Production Organiser in 2009, with the objective of providing a software platform integrating VigilantPlant into business planning.

The Yokogawa plan is based on a solid evolutionary path, which means that all Centum systems are fully backwards compatible, and systems can be upgraded as needed, to provide a simple customer development route.

The Yokogawa commitment is to build the future to last, not throwing away the older technology, but building on it, allowing such user migration.

The new CentumVP introduces compatibility with Microsoft Vista, as well as working with XP, and uses one databse and real time operating core, which should allow quicker access and easier maintenance.

The objective is to provide more actionable information, and less data, to the future operators: Yokogawa recognize that experts are starting to retire, and that skilled people are more and more in short supply.

CENTUM VP HMI.

The HMI is the first element branded as CentumVP to be launched, and brings more Microsoft desktop capabilities into the operator environment, like the use of tabs to retain recently used view sets, favourites as display formats, sizeable graphics, trend lines of selected variables and alarm viewer, with up to five different screens shown on one display.

The VP HMI is designed to enable operators to work smarter, giving prioritised, actionable information instead of a flooding of data.

One of the Yokogawa German sales engineers demonstrated the new HMI to us, and was obviously keen to run off with the unit to show his clients who have been waiting to get the new features available, added on to their existing Centum CS3000 systems: the main advantage seemed to be to make the screens easier to use by the operator, to make watching the plant performance easier.

This guy had an interesting background, in that originally he had been the customer, and the DCS Manager in one of the main Fuji film processing plants for Europe.

Naturally the Fuji plant had a Yokogawa Centum system, so when digital photography killed off the colour film industry, he moved over to selling the systems.

FURTHER COMMENTS.

* The only instrumentation news discussed was a review of the TruePeak laser based gas analyser, and the Rotamass XR Coriolis meter (Ref 2), which were both covered by Processingtalk last year, the TruePeak in another Special Report (Ref 3).

* There was little discussion about wireless instrumentation, this was dismissed as something that might be useful for simple monitoring applications only.

* Similarly with EtherNet systems, CentumVP works with the Yokogawa Vnet/IP (1GHz Ethernet) for LAN communications, which has been certified and approved by a ‘third-party organization’.

The Vnet/IP comms from the Yokogawa industrial recorders and data-acquisition equipment was certified by ODVA, according to a report on Processingtalk earlier in February (Ref 4).

* Associated with the CentumVP release, Yokogawa announced new IO modules for turbomachinery control applications: installed on a CentumVP field control station, the new IO modules provide powerful features for the high-speed control and protection of turbomachinery (Ref 5).

Obviously this capability was developed to satisfy one of their current power plant projects: major power projects were quoted to be located in Australia, and Central and Eastern Europe.

* Cisco is collaborating with Yokogawa particularly in the area of safety and security.

* Further releases in the CentumVP family might be expected in the Autumn: possibly associated with the next Yokogawa User Conference and Technology Event scheduled for Barcelona 23-26 September.

BACKGROUND DATA: NUMBER 1 IN 2010?.

The Yokogawa US launch of the CentumVP took place at an ARC Forum in Orlando: so the obligatory ARC white paper, an expensive background document, was provided to journalists with the launch pack.

As a view of the history and background to the Yokogawa development and future in the area of process automation this is quite well written: it also studies and explains the way Yokogawa has changed from a Main Instrument Vendor to a Main Automation Contractor.

Typically the report does not get to a conclusion, particularly not expressing a view as to whether Yokogawa will achieve the desired number 1 status in the industry by 2010: that is the US culture.

What it does conclude is that Yokogawa is driven by a high level of integrity and dedication in its MAC projects, which, ARC conclude, comes from the Yokogawa Japanese culture.

Maybe ARC could take a note of their own conclusion even?.

Since the ARC report provided by Yokogawa is liberally sprinkled with “Copyright ARC Advisory Group” on every page, I will spare you a full copy of the 22 pages.

Interesting therefore that with the automation competitors listed by Yokogawa being Honeywell, Emerson, Invensys, Siemens and ABB, several of these organizations also use similar ARC reports to validate their claims to the position of their industry.

How they define this ‘industry’ varies to suit their own business profile, but this week ABB have launched a news release (Ref 6) that touts ARC as the authority stating ‘ABB are the number one automation contractor’ currently, in a market that also includes AC drives (The Emerson definition would not include drives, but does include valves).

ABB quote the ARC report: “ABB was also the top supplier to the cement, pharmaceutical and pulp and paper industries in the Asian market, with sizeable market shares in all other process industries”.

It is interesting to consider this against the Yokogawa total business in Japan alone of USD1390M: maybe Asia does not include Japan? But more telling is the comment from ARC, in the ABB text, that says “….(manufacturers) need to act quickly and with agility” – a phrase straight from Yokogawa VigilantPlant marketing.

References for further reading.

Ref 1: http://www.processingtalk.com/news/yog/yog148.html .

Ref 2: http://www.processingtalk.com/news/yog/yog142.html .

Ref 3: http://www.processingtalk.com/news/whp/whp194.html .

Ref 4: http://www.processingtalk.com/news/yog/yog147.html .

Ref 5: http://www.processingtalk.com/news/yog/yog149.html .

Ref 6: http://www.processingtalk.com/news/abb/abb252.html .