The INSIDER news items for November

PlantPAx v2.0 claimed to be ahead of competition, for process availability, asset management, scalability and batch control.

The Rockwell Automation Fair in Orlando early this month highlighted the process automation and control capabilities within Rockwell, now developed and enhanced significantly by the incorporation of the ICS Triplex and Pavilion Technologies acquisitions made some four years ago, and by continuing close joint and collaborative development work with Cisco and Endress + Hauser. PlantPAx System Release 2.0, due early in 2011, uses ICS Triplex technology for high availability, with a broad portfiolio of connectivity options, like HART, Profibus-PA, and Foundation Fieldbus, and provides asset management even for intelligent motor control centres and power control components. Comprehensive batch and sequencing control is available from an S-88 compliant engine, which can integrate into a higher-level batch strategy, also ensuring that OEM solutions, such as clean-in-place skids, easily plug in to plantwide production operations.  The Automation Fair itself illustrated the reach of the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork, where most of the 101 members of this network take stands in this major exhibition, and then over 11,000 visitors throng the hall for two days.

HUG discusses wireless plant of the future
Press at the Honeywell User Group European meeting in Barcelona last month were invited to attend a round-table discussion on “The wireless plant of the future” chaired and moderated by Michael Babb, in his role as Editor of Control Engineering Europe. In a radical departure for a HUG meeting, Yokogawa were invited to attend, in the person of Toshi Hasegawa, a Project Leader in the Yokogawa Technology Marketing Department in Tokyo: plus Khalid Hussein, of QAFCO, the Qatar Fertilizer Company, gave his view, from a user’s perspective. From Honeywell, Mols repeated the suggestion that WirelessHART users are finding the battery life of the mesh network sensors near the gateway is much reduced, because of frequent messaging, at a not insignificant replacement cost (for their proprietary battery packs). Battery life was claimed to be not as significant a problem for ISA100 networks. Possibly this will be a topic for users to make further comment on, from both sides.


CHARMs results analysed at Emerson Exchange

The Emerson User Group meeting in the USA, called Emerson Exchange, took place in September, and as INSIDER reported last month saw the retirement of John Berra. Many reviews of different aspects of this meeting have been presented in the media over the last month: one from the ARC Advisory Group caught my attention, with some different views relating to the Emerson DeltaV S-Series hardware, with its use of Characterization Modules (CHARMs) used to establish electronic marshalling connections, and thereby simplifying the tasks of on-site wiring. An apparent barrier to the adoption of fieldbus technologies by EPCs was the additional training needed for staff, and a fear factor over new technology, when established systems were satisfactory, and understood. So it was a real breakthrough for ARC to see Vincent Grindlay, supply chain director at Fluor UK, excited about the advantages apparent with DeltaV Version 11 and its electronic marshalling technology, in the build phase of a project.
Dresser gives GE a process control valve  capability

GE has emerged from three years of relative inactivity in the take-over market with around $25-30Bn to spend on share buy-backs and acquisitions, and has immediately spent $3Bn on Dresser Masoneilan. The declared objective is now to concentrate on existing business areas, and “infrastructure” is the stated broad theme, presumably meaning expansion of their $40Bn Energy technology Portfolio. Dresser also will further the development of GE Energy’s monitoring, diagnostics and performance optimization offerings. Dresser’s pressure relief and control valve technologies will be complemented by GE’s domain expertise, which will create opportunities to bring additional technology and applications to Dresser’s offerings. You have to wonder whether GE appreciate the real value of this capability in their overall process offering?

Masoneilan valves to integrate with ABB 800xA

Possibly feeling a little left out in the cold will be ABB, who made an announcement on September 22, maybe two weeks before the GE acquisition, that ABB and Dresser Masoneilan had agreed to collaborate on emergency shutdown valve (ESDV) integration with the ABB System 800xA. An integrated process will monitor, test and manage these ESDV during all operational conditions, from normal plant operations to abnormal situations, providing crucial process elements for the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, as well as many other industrial processes.

IOM rebuild Northern Europe sales operations

Mike Teller, appointed IOM general manager for Northern Europe some 18 months ago, nas his plans in place for the various IOM businesses in this market, particularly as to how they should address the opportunity presented by the $53Bn of ageing assets currently approaching the end of life stage  – many of these assets, together with an ageing workforce, are in the North Sea. For Teller, Northern Europe is defined as Eire, UK and Norway, to strongly focus on the offshore oil industries, and it also includes most of the IOM oil projects in “export” territories like Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.

Coriolis meters perform on two phase flows

A news release from ABB this month suggested that their internal R+D testing of the ABB CoriolisMaster flowmeter has shown that it can accurately measure the mass flowrate and density of liquids that contain up to 45% distributed gas inclusion, compared to the industry standard maximum gas volume fraction (GVF), which they suggest is around 10%. Joel Weinstein, a research and applications engineer from Micro Motion, presented a paper to last month’s North Sea Flow Measurement Workshop, describing the recent Micro Motion work establishing the limitations of Coriolis technology in oil and gas multi-phase conditions. Weinstein concludes that following these recommendations with the best Micro Motion Elite sensor would lead to a better than 1% accuracy in mass flow rate measurement up to 5% GVF for high flow rates.

Who owns the ubiquitous Rotameter name?

The word rotameter is assumed to be a generic name for a variable area flowmeter, describing a freely rotating float visible in a glass tube. However Rotameter is a fairly carefully trade-marked word, for gas or liquid flowmeters, and Rota in Germany, the flow centre of excellence within the Yokogawa group, owns the rights to the trademark in Germany and various European countries. In the UK the rights have devolved through GEC Rotameters and KDG Instruments to Emerson, who have passed the product range to Flotech Solutions. In the USA, the rights were registered by Brooks Instruments way back in 1955, and they are newly independent from the Emerson family. So who should claim what?

Significant changes for the UK automation press

It seems that 2010 is the year for editorial changes in the UK based automation press, not least of which was of course the retirement of Andrew Bond from the full time editor on the INSIDER. The most significant news this month is that Michael Babb, Editor of Control Engineering Europe (CEE), intends to retire after the November 2010 issue. Twenty five years ago, Michael started as the original Control Engineering USA “Man on the spot”, reporting from Europe for the US journal, and also providing a European edition of the journal. The new approach for CE Europe at IML has been to recruit Suzanne Gill as editor, who is the ex-editor of Automation, a rival title from the Datateam publisher (in the UK context). Datateam, having lost Suzanne Gill after maternity leave, also faced the hopefully temporary loss of Michelle Lea in August, on maternity leave – she has now had twins: Lea is another experienced editor, having been in charge of the UK journal Process & Control. Last month IML also decided that they no longer needed an editor for the HazardEx journal, a slot filled for the past seven years by long experienced control and automation editor, Paul Gay.

Emerson achieves $76m in 2010 wireless bookings

Figures for the full year show Process Management sales falling back slightly, to $6022m from $6135m in 2009, but earnings moving up to $1093m from $1060m. Within this Emerson wireless solutions achieved bookings of $76m in the year.

Emerson joins the FDT Group!

John Berra has been retired for only a month, and there appear to be some policy changes. Emerson Process Management has joined the FDT Group as a sponsoring member. “We are delighted to have Emerson join our leadership team” said Glenn Schulz, Managing Director of the FDT Group, as Steve Armstrong of Emerson was appointed to the Board of Directors and Martin Zielinski joined the Executive Committee, as Vice President. Hopefully Zielinski has also modified his views a little, compared to October 2004 when he told INSIDER that “FDT/DTM is being used as a barrier to trade”!

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