The INSIDER January newsletter

The January newsletter from the Industrial Automation Insider has now been despatched: the following abstracts of the main stories show the topics covered this month.  To receive a newsletter copy on publication, or see the whole of these reports, why not take out a subscription? For further information, see http://www.iainsider.co.uk .

Customers accept wireless technology from Emerson.

Bob Sharp, president of Emerson Process Management in Europe, introduced their European press event last month with the assertion that “Emerson strives to enjoy a leadership position in technology and innovation” – and it seems that European customers have responded to recent developments, with significant projects testing and adopting electronic marshalling using their CHARMS I/O, quoted as giving faster start-ups, easier engineering and reduced capital costs (INSIDER, November 2010, page 3).

Another significant factor for the Emerson European marketing operation is that “Customers have embraced wireless”, with 20% of the booming Emerson sales demand for wireless products coming out of Europe in 2010. Since the Emerson wireless bookings for the FY to end September were $76m (INSIDER November 2010, page 11), then this puts their wireless business in Europe at $15m.

Emerson experience in wireless

Bob Karschnia, global vp for wireless, presented the Emerson Smart Wireless techniques, using the WirelessHART IEC62591 standard, as proven in application, and suitable for use on control applications. The pedigree behind this, against the arguments offered by the exponents of ISA100.11a, is that the installed base of these sensors, built to the IEC standard, exceeds 1400 sites, with accumulated sensor operational time in excess of 300 million hours. Many major customers have installed and are now using Emerson WirelessHART systems: a slide of selected world user logos quoted companies such as BP, Bord Gais, Chevron, INEOS, Petrobras, Pemex and Statoil in petrochemicals; Croda, Novartis and Syngenta in fine chemicals and pharma; Rusal and Dubai Aluminium; Boise paper and CalPortland building materials.

Karschnia totally rebutted the battery life challenge raised by members of the ISA100.11a camp (INSIDER November 2010 page 2). “Emerson WirelessHART battery powered sensors have been in the field for around 8 years. In that time there have been no requests from our customers for Emerson to make replacement battery packs available, and we have not needed to supply any”.

Emerson vetting by EU press

Arising out of questioning in relation to WirelessHART and international standards, the Emerson response was that “Only one internationally approved standard (by IEC) exists for wireless communications with sensors, and that is IEC62591 (WirelessHART). Emerson try to influence efforts of new standard developments, so that they become a subset of any existing international standard.” This led on to questions around the Emerson decision to join the FDT Group (INSIDER November 2010, page 10): they hope to encourage the FDT community to join the FDI initiative and bring EDDL and FDT together.

Alarm management experience

The second edition of the Alarm Management Handbook has recently been published, written by Bill Hollifield and Eddie Habibi, of PAS. Habibi explains the background to the book and the second edition: “Poorly performing alarm systems hinder an operator’s ability to mitigate abnormal situations that can lead to consequences ranging from minor process upsets to catastrophic accidents. With the release of the new ANSI/ISA-18.2-2009 ‘Management of Alarm Systems for the Process Industries’, PAS wanted to update the book, first published in 2006, to incorporate these guidelines”. The book adopts a practical and pragmatic approach, which Jim Pinto describes as “an essential textbook for managers, process engineers and operators to keep around and refer to regularly”. A free copy of the book is being raffled for interested INSIDER readers.

 

Automation supplier rankings

Following the publication of the CONTROL Automation Vendors’ Top 50 rankings for the USA and the World, produced every year by Larry O’Brien, Research Director of ARC Advisory Group, and Walt Boyes, Editor of ControlGlobal.com, the INSIDER once again takes a look at the positioning of the major vendors outside the US market, which is a significant 25% of the total market.

Once again Siemens, ABB, Emerson, Rockwell, Schneider and Honeywell take the top slots, but the interesting changes from last year show Emerson streaking ahead of the other suppliers in the pack that previously just followed on behind Siemens and ABB, to take a clear third position. With Endress + Hauser overtaking Invensys in this table, the potential combination of Rockwell and E+H, two close partners at least in the USA, is another growing force. But then GE, now combined with Dresser, is also pushing into the Top 10 of our league table.

 

Alfa Laval on the march!

In a review of Alfa Laval recent activities, and acquisitions, the INSIDER suggests it is time to consider where Alfa Laval will move next. Having sold their Control and automation arm, Sattcontrol, to ABB in 1998, they may be moving back into similar areas in the energy efficiency and environmental solutions markets, particularly after the acquisition of Aalborg Industries.

Lars Renström, President and CEO of the Alfa Laval Group, commented: “Aalborg complements our offering of energy-efficient and environmental solutions. It represents a significant business opportunity as it not only supports the development of our offering to the marine and off-shore markets but also we can introduce their product offering to new industrial end markets and customers.”

An interesting aside in relation to the INSIDER website, is that stories about the Alfa Laval activities attract the highest numbers of Google search led visitors to the INSIDER blog, http://www.iainsider.com. Key products are heat exchangers, separators, pumps and valves – producing a turnover reported in Swedish Kronor of SEK26Bn in 2009 ($3.8Bn) and an operating profit of $670m (18%): the company has a market value of approx SEK57Bn ($8Bn). Company market share in heat exchangers globally is stated to be 30%, and the company growth rate over the period 2002 to 2009 averages 8% pa, based on a strong presence in the world’s fast growing economies.

CC-Link offers more than just a Gateway to Asia

CC-Link, the fieldbus protocol which dominates the Asian market, but which has until recently largely been ignored in the European and North American markets (which are dominated by Profibus, DeviceNet and Foundation Fieldbus) is beginning to make significant inroads into Europe. That was the message from outgoing CLPA (CC-Link Partner Association) general manager Steve Jones and his successor John Browett at a press conference held shortly before Christmas.

CC-Link is very much more than just a proprietary Mitsubishi protocol dressed up as an open network. This is shown by the population numbers produced by CLPA: installed nodes are multiplying at a rate of 950,000 a year and are set to pass the 8 million mark by March 2011, while the number of compliant products now exceeds 1000, and the number of partner companies 1300, with between 300 and 400 of them coming from Europe. European companies which have recognized the potential of CC-Link include Weidmüller, which has added CC-Link IE support to its range of Gigabit Ethernet connectivity solutions, HMS Industrial Networks which supports CC-Link IE with its Anybus–S gigabit Ethernet interface modules, and Hilscher which has introduced a Network Evaluation Board supporting CC-Link Remote Device and Remote I/O capabilities.

An American visit to the SPS Show in Nuremberg

Walt Boyes of ControlGlobal.com was delighted to accept an invitation from Siemens, who took three US-based journalists to Nuremberg to experience the SPS/IPC/Drives show. The attendance – 52,000 visitors, 1300 exhibitors – impressed Siemens as well as Boyes. Siemens used it to launch their TIA Portal (Totally Integrated Automation Portal), a software development suite for all automation tasks on the Siemens programmable controllers, HMI devices and drives.

Where is the advertising spend going in 2011?

Chris Rand, founder of Engineeringtalk.com, now runs a UK-based consultancy called BMON, which specializes in providing Google AdWords management for industrial and scientific companies. Via his daily B2B marketing blog, sent to over 1000 engineering marketing managers – presumably mainly based in the UK – Rand asked for responses in an opinion poll about “Where engineering companies will be spending advertising money next year (2011)”. Over 180 marketing managers responded to the poll, and over 80% said that e-mail marketing is going to be the most important area of investment for industrial and scientific companies next year – the other area where the effort and budget is heading is Google AdWords, much to the relief of Chris Rand. Cuts are planned in the spend on web banner ads, and all spending seems to have been cut from “Paid-for editorial”. For the full results see the BMON survey on http://tinyurl.com/bmon-ad-poll.

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