ARC study into FF control-in-the-field

The Fieldbus Foundation has announced the results of an ARC study into the benefits of the FF control-in-the-field (CIF) capability. Some of the project work was carried out by Industrial Systems and Control (ISC), the control-engineering consultancy closely linked to the University of Strathclyde, and other input came from Shell Global Solutions International (SGSI) who have performed extensive evaluation of control in the field. SGSI recommend CIF for simple and cascading loops, but not for complex loops. The major benefits identified by SGSI were reduced process-controller loading, reduced network traffic, and very fast loop response. This provides a performance benefit with flow and pressure control loops, and can be useful with some position/speed and temperature/pH control loops.

Field-level control is also quoted to enable greater flexibility in plant-automation strategies, because controllers are free to handle higher-level control functions such as advanced control and optimisation. The improved flow and pressure control provided by CIF, which also improves disturbance rejection, then means that the performance of other slower loops could also be improved because of the reduced network traffic and the complex interactions of control loops in process plants (Link).

Rockwell Automation launch their Mechatronics design portfolio

This week Rockwell Automation launched their Mechatronics design portfolio, offering improved optimization and collaboration software and hardware solutions to assist machinery design. Mechatronics is a collaborative venture between mechanical, electrical and control design engineers to optimise machine design. The Motion Analyser software from Rockwell interfaces with SolidWorks CAD, making it easier to select, size and optimise motion control systems, using a range of actuators, servo motors and electric cylinders particularly targeted at the packaging, medical and automotive markets (Link). In a review of the past year, the Rockwell PlantPAX process automation system was singled out as a success, achieving several notable contract wins when pitched against DCS vendors, particularly when providing a single control platform for discrete, batch, process, safety, drives and motion control. The Rockwell safety seminars have been particularly in demand, with over 400 people attending over the year.