Profibus Conference 2009

The water industry has undoubtedly been one of the major UK application areas that have adopted Profibus control systems on automation projects and upgrades, and Yorkshire Water and United Utilities described similar experiences in introducing the technology, at the Profibus and Profinet User Conference in Stratford-on-Avon last week. For Yorkshire Water, the first intelligent networks were introduced within “Intelligent” MCC panels, but for field networks the EU Freshwater Fish Directive requirements were the main drivers to adopting Profibus systems. Over the last three years their ICA Profibus strategy has involved joining the PI support network, and putting all technicians through Installation and Maintenance Training Courses, conducted on their own premises. Eight ICA engineers were also taken through the Profibus Engineer Course: these were probably organised by Andy Verwer and MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University). UU described a similar development route, and highlighted that over 90% of site issues are down to the installers: Profitrace systems were used in both organisations to do hand-over checking and as an aid to project documentation. Within UU there are maybe 600 WWT sites and 100 waterworks, and Profibus systems so far have been applied to new builds and projects on approaching 200 of these. Mark Cargill, now with MWH Consultants, later described some of the points to remember when extending a network with a Profibus system, and the discussion following his presentation highlighted that there are no water industry overall standards for Profibus systems, so that it is important that the installation contractors and their staff can demonstrate competence or experience with Profibus.

Alongside the conference sessions, very similar recommendations were being made in relation to Profinet installations by Dennis van Booma of Procentec, who runs the Profibus Competency Centre in The Netherlands: Dennis commented that experience with Ethernet IT systems can be a positive disadvantage when considering undertaking a Profinet installation. In the busy exhibition area, the organisations providing such training courses were complemented by displays from suppliers of hardware and test equipment for all types of automation system. A new exhibitor this year was Watson-Marlow, who presented their three ranges of Profibus DP enabled peristaltic cased pumps, enabling a simple interface to achieve direct speed control from a PLC, for example for dosing. Watson-Marlow have already supplied various food industry projects with these Profibus interfaced pumps.

It was interesting that the water industry presentations admitted that to date there has been no significant use of the equipment diagnostics available over their Profibus networks: a presentation by Kai Atle Myrvang of AD Elektronikk, the Profibus Competence and Training Centre in Norway, showed just the reverse situation. Here control valve and sensor diagnostics on various offshore oil and gas installations were available via HART communications. Instead of reprogramming the whole platform control system to export the diagnostic data, Kai reported on a project where a secondary master was added into the Profibus network, which then used Profibus to collect the HART data, sharing the bus to send messages in between the normal control system operations, and then it exports this data over an Ethernet connection. In this way, a system has been installed to check the functions of the HART valves on the Ekofisk 2/4M (Conoco Phillips) and Snorre B (Statoil Hydro) offshore installations, as well as the Ormen Lange and Snohvit (LNG) onshore installations. Tests showed that the data refresh rate for the basic control system did not change significantly, when extracting this additional diagnostic data.

PI Chairman Joerg Freitag also presented the latest Profibus and Profinet installed base statistics: 2008 saw continuing growth of around 20% for Profibus DP and PA, but also significant growth in the numbers of Profisafe systems and nodes installed, at a rate exceeding 50%. Over the next two years the number of Profinet devices is also forecast to double, but a major effort by PI will be in the application of Profinet to energy management systems, tackling the problem that significant energy is currently wasted when production systems are in “Hot standby” mode. The development will be called ProfiEnergy, and should be launched before the end of 2009. Further background to the conference is available on Processingtalk (Link).

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GE Fanuc 2009 presentation

At a recent press briefing, GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms took time to highlight their focus on ‘infrastructure’ industries, confirmed with examples of recent process control system projects, covering oil and gas, power and water. The Fanuc in the name indeed relates to the Japanese CNC machine tool supplier and robotics manufacturer, who have a (minority) share of the joint venture company: and GE Fanuc indeed came from automation in discrete manufacturing. But Gordon Morrison, Western European Director of their Control Systems Business, emphasised that they employ around 10,000 people, spread around the UK, on control system (hardware and software) and are to establish a GE Oil and Gas industry Centre of Excellence in Luton in July 2009.

This new centre arises from significant activity in oil and gas projects offshore, particularly with Fire and Gas systems, for example on BP Talisman, and the integrated control and safety system for the FPSO on the BP Schiehallion field west of Shetland. For this project, Silvertech chose the HMI/Scada software from the GE Fanuc Proficy production and automation software suite, in response to a BP initiative looking at ‘best practice’ solutions within its ‘Fields of the Future’ project (Link).

Michael Desloges, Manager for Process in Europe, explained that the first Proficy Process Systems DCS project was for Xinneng Energy in China, in a Di-Methyl Ether production plant. This plant was quoted to have moved from green field to full production in under 5 months, using Proficy control (Link). GE undoubtedly has a strong base of projects from the other divisions in their group, providing projects in turbine control, load shedding and gas compressor stations from GE Power, and other projects from GE Water. This has led to the development of special Proficy software packages that provide a blueprint sketch to optimise performance in these applications. Quoted water industry projects included the pumping stations for Palm Island in the Gulf, and various desalination plants in Spain, Algeria and the Middle East. The recent application story presented on Processingtalk covers their Formellino Wastewater Treatment plant project at Faenza in Italy (Link).

Is independence needed for process safety systems?

This review from June 2009 considers the independence needed for process safety systems after the first demonstration of the Foundation Fieldbus (FF) for safety integrated functions (SIFs) at Shell in Amsterdam.

The good thing about discussions on plant safety is that they tend to involve engineers.

In fact, such discussions usually end up with the engineers making the decisions, in contrast to other business management discussions.

The manager responsible for the safety system on the process plant is surely the person who always sits outside any pressure from the commercial and production management, in as much as he can, when the business has to be viable.

If the safety system chosen and used is not adequate and an accident causes damage and injury, there is no longer a plant and there is probably significant compensation to pay; the business is then certainly not viable.

The automation systems of major plants are, quite reasonably, being integrated to include the process-control system, the maintenance management system, the electrical systems, the communications and the security.

Efficient management requires that all the data for a modern business must be accessible on the same system and must efficiently use the same data in order to smooth decision making.

In a new installation, the capital costs can be reduced significantly by planning these systems as integrated systems and reducing wiring, hardware and interfaces.

The major automation contractors encourage this view and will offer the total system, but the question remains as to how far this integration should be extended to include the safety instrumented systems (SIS), such as emergency shutdown systems, fire and gas systems, burner management systems and turbomachinery control systems.

The view of the major automation contractors seems to be that the SIS should be a part of the process-control system and should share the same platform, because this reduces the costs to the end customer of the integration necessary when the SIS is from a separated system.

This recognises that SIS systems are expensive, both in the components used and the engineering involved, and they, therefore, make up a significant part of the total project work and revenue for the contractors.

However, the very integration that apparently saves costs for the customer could be a step too far in reducing the safety system independence and could introduce common modes of failure or commonality between control and SIS logic.

There has to be a separation of design and concept between safety systems and control systems so that they should use different basic approaches to achieve the result – a safely controlled plant.

The current version of the IEC61508 standard (which could, of course, be modified in subsequent editions) embodies this principle – it states that the ‘safety system shall be independent of the control system’.

This requirement introduces a demand for a safety system source that is independent of, and prepared to work with, the main control system supplier.

Within major automation contractors, the safety systems group has always been separated from the control systems group, but the very integration of systems required by plant management means that the base platforms are moving closer together.

The only real independent supplier is now Hima.

An interesting parallel to this requirement for safety arises in reviewing the integration of systems that might be subject to hackers.

The firewall between the two aspects of such an integrated system has to be considered in the light of concern, particularly in the US, that hackers can penetrate the outer firewall to the control system via external communications interfaces.

The safety system and its second protective firewall to the control system has to be unaffected by the penetration and software abilities of that same hacker.

This is always an interesting point for discussion among safety professionals.

In May, four demonstrations were organised to show how FF communications could be used in safety applications.

This followed on from the granting of TuV Protocol Type Approval for the FF SIS specifications up to SIL3 in 2006.

The main demonstration was hosted by Shell Global Solutions in Amsterdam and, although attended by 15-20 members of the press, they accounted for less than 10 per cent of the audience; the rest were engineers who had come together to discuss the technology.

The working demonstration was shown on a miniature plant system and used a Hima logic solver working with a Yokogawa Centum control system and asset management, as well as field equipment from various manufacturers on the FF segments.

The same general pattern was used for the other sites, with two Aramco demonstration units in Saudi Arabia using Yokogawa and Invensys Triconex logic solvers and BP Gelsenkirchen using a Honeywell safety manager.

Chevron in Houston demonstrated an Emerson DeltaV SIS working alongside a DeltaV asset management system (AMS).

Within the FF SIF demo units, the communications were treated as a black ‘unmonitored’ channel between intelligent devices and the logic solver; there were no peer-to-peer communications.

The apparent Capex advantage of using FF segments is to bring considerable wiring and installation time savings to safety systems, since, at present, all field systems use single-loop-powered 4-20mA communications.

In the Shell demonstration in Amsterdam, Audun Gjerde of Shell Global Solutions conducted the live SIF demo.

Functions demonstrated included high- and low-level trips, the partial stroke testing of valves and a partial stroke test that was interrupted by the ESD.

The last example showed that, even in the middle of a partial stroke test, the ESD could successfully take over and shut down the system during an abnormal situation.

Two-out-of-three voting was demonstrated using various Fieldbus SIF devices.

The system also reacted successfully to a loss of temperature probe, as well as a measurement validation alarm and a diagnostic alarm generated from a dry probe on a level device.

Gjerde said: ‘By implementing Foundation SIF, Shell anticipates less testing of final elements thanks to smart testing and diagnostics, as well as online testing and partial stroke testing.

‘This will result in early detection of dangerous device failures – and fewer spurious plant trips.

‘With smart online testing and diagnostics, we will be able to run for longer periods of time without shutting down the plant for testing purposes.

‘We will also save on the cost of adding a second or third device in many cases.

Shell Global Solutions has an overall initiative to better utilise FF systems and capabilities to reap Opex benefits and strongly support the SIF initiative as a part of this project.

Within Shell, FF is the de facto standard for new builds and the company has 100+ current FF projects involving 200,000 field devices.

To gain Opex benefits, FF must be better utilised in terms of reliability and availability by using diagnostics and self checking, as well as savings made in operational time by remote monitoring, allowing reduced manning.

Peter Eigenraam of Shell said: ‘Foundation SIF helps you know you are safe, not think you are safe.

In addition, Shell sees extension of FF into the SIS functions as a key initiative in gaining these Opex benefits across more of the total input/output (I/O) on a project, since safety systems account for a large portion of the I/O on major projects.

The Saudi Aramco demonstration and field evaluations scheduled for 2009 will use two separate FF-SIF systems from Yokogawa and Invensys Triconex.

The Aramco presentation in Amsterdam was made by John Rezabek, controls specialist at the ISP (ex-BP Chemicals) butanediol plant in Lima Ohio.

He is an experienced industrial user of FF systems and is also chair of the FF End User Advisory Council.

Rezabek quoted the main reasons for SIF systems as the capability to identify and anticipate failures, the ability to undertake partial and full valve stroking and a reduced manual testing regime.

He said: ‘Foundation Fieldbus SIF makes sense – it delivers real-time diagnostics built in.

This view is endorsed by Shell, which acknowledged the lead FF offers in delivering diagnostic information.

The company is keen for suppliers to develop further diagnostic capabilities across their installed instrumentation.

Discussions in Amsterdam were under no illusions; the development of FF SIF field transmitters and controllers with good diagnostics, approved for hazardous-area use and then certificated for use in FF-SIF systems, will not be possible within a two- to three-year timescale, so they cannot be expected until 2011 at the earliest.

However, the demand from end users exists and will mean that these will be developed and implemented.

There are challenges to overcome in incorporating these devices in safety systems, which might involve maintaining the distinct and separate teams of process design and safety system design, negating some of the possible benefits of common engineering standards.

The hardware and software barriers, such as firewalls, between the systems will be the subject of a lot of future discussion, but with such open discussions as have already started between the supplier and user engineers, as demonstrated at Shell in Amsterdam, the objective is set.

First Friday Club

In this fast moving internet age, what makes an Institution? The answer still has to be time, and a life independent of the originating enthusiast. So the First Friday Club qualifies, having now passed ten years of operation, and last week having none of the original journalist attendees. Started by Chris Rand, then Editor of Industrial Technology, and Bob Brooks in 1998, the club is designed to bring around 15 editors of the UK engineering press together for some 15 minute presentations, launches or updates from 3 or 4 of the major suppliers, the ones that want their attention, and provide products worth writing about. Then there is the further opportunity for one-to-one interviews and chat over drinks and lunch: the event is held in The Cheshire Cheese, an ancient London pub on Fleet Street. The club saves the editors time, by concentrating several presentations into one event, and saves the supplier companies money. More important these days, with so many editors working from home, it provides a useful meeting point to see both their colleagues and competitors. For many years John Fisher of Fisher Marketing has been entrusted with organizing the event, and some of the regular presenters are Rockwell Automation, ABB, Erwin Sick and Powervar: but any supplier can use the First Friday Club to present their latest developments in an economical way (Link).

Apparently there is a similar engineering journalist’s club in France, but maybe it would be worth copying in some other countries. Last week in the UK, the Rockwell presentation concentrated on a new Allen-Bradley Ethernet communications module that can plug into their E1 Plus motor protection overload relay, to provide facilities such as overload/underload warning, and jam protection signals. Previously only available via proprietary systems like DeviceNet and Profibus, the Ethernet interface with built-in web server and email or text messaging capability to warn of impending problems, can now bring intelligent and remote motor control to any motor fitted with the E1 Plus, which has been widely supplied over the last 12 years (Link).

Powervar followed up with a presentation explaining their SecurityPlus on-line UPS system. Combining the benefits of a low impedance isolation transformer, a noise filter, and a surge diverter, the SecurityPlus is said to provide completely conditioned power. With remote RS232 and USB communications, the UPS interfaces with Powervar remote monitoring software, allowing remote control of the power supplies: in some cases this can allow energy savings by allowing remote automatic shutdowns of satellite systems during inactive periods (Link).

So, many thanks to Bob Brooks and Chris Rand for their innovative thinking in creating the First Friday Club: Chris went on to create another institution in the making, http://www.engineeringtalk.com and the other Talk websites, starting early in 2000. This is another radical approach to finding effective customer communications for engineering suppliers, as you are aware. Moving on yet again, Chris can now be found in his new venture, an internet marketing consultancy (Link), from where he supplies a daily blog of internet marketing tips.