Optical sensor technology from Stratophase

The Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN), one of the UK’s primary knowledge-based networks for Micro and Nanotechnologies, is pleased to announce the success of one of its members, Stratophase. Last year, the University of Southampton spin-out doubled its manufacturing capability by moving to a new building three times larger than its previous site. Stratophase’s Business Development & Commercial Officer, Sam Watts, believes support from the NanoKTN has had a significant impact on the success of the business.

Stratophase is a VC-funded spin-out from the University of Southampton and a specialist in real-time chemical and biochemical measurement and detection technology. Its SpectroSens technology is an optical microchip sensor which measures chemical processes and detects biological targets and can be realised in a vast array of sensing heads, offering a wide variety of system configurations.

SpectroSens is applicable to a broad spectrum of industries including chemical and biochemical production as well as biological detection and, as a result of the company seeing substantially increased interest in this technology, Stratophase has been able to secure further investment and move to a new facility with improved high-tech laboratory space. Stratophase’s Sam Watts believes the opportunities provided by the NanoKTN have had a measurable impact on the recent success and growth of the company.

“As a VC-funded business we have to demonstrate to our investors that we have an understanding of the market and our end-users’ needs, something which we and our stakeholders believe is crucial to the development of our sensor technology. By attending NanoKTN events we have been able to expand our knowledge and expertise of what our end-users want by gaining direct contact with our customers and partners. This has helped us increase business interest which has ultimately enabled us to secure further funding and expand.”

Watts continues, “Increased investments have enabled us to expand into new offices and as a result, double our production capacity for our core technology. I believe the support and opportunities from the NanoKTN have helped us reach this position.”

Sam Watts has attended a number of NanoKTN events, enabling him to gain an understanding of the different areas where sensor technology is being used and where Stratophase’s products could provide solutions and benefits. Attending the events has led to a number of new business contacts being developed that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

As part of its on-going commitment to Stratophase, the NanoKTN has written and circulated a case study about the company’s SpectroSens technology at NanoKTN events and via the NanoKTN’s website. This acts as both a tool to raise Stratophase’s profile and a means of increasing awareness of the company within key market sectors.

The NanoKTN’s primary aim is to encourage and support UK organisations to collaborate and share knowledge with key partners in attractive end user markets to achieve growth of the UK micro and nanotechnology sector.

Established by the Technology Strategy Board, the NanoKTN is managed by Centre for Process Innovation Ltd, a leading technology development and consulting company.

Invensys ceo Henriksson steps down

Reuters report that UK engineering firm Invensys (ISYS.L) has replaced its chief executive Ulf Henriksson, who last year raised the prospect of the British company being sold to the Chinese, saying its finance chief Wayne Edmunds takes over as chief executive with immediate effect.

Shares in the maker of rail signalling systems and controls for industrial plants, nuclear power stations and domestic appliances fell as much as 8 percent after the announcement, and were trading 5 percent lower at 340 pence by 1324 GMT, the biggest FTSE faller.

Henriksson, chief executive since 2005, generated headlines in November when he said China Southern Rail could buy the company at the right price.

His comments, and subsequent share price rise, forced the company to issue a statement denying it was in takeover talks.

Chairman Nigel Rudd said Henriksson had transformed Invensys, but Edmunds would lead the company through the next stage of development.

David Thomas, who has been with the company since 2002, takes over as acting finance director.

Charles Stanley analyst Jeremy Batstone-Carr said Henriksson had done a reasonable job as chief executive and had attempted to reduce the cyclicality in the business by building up the rail business in particular.

But he had also raised the possibility of a break-up of the company, he said.

“We haven’t had a profit warning so the market reaction is fairly muted, which is probably cautiously appropriate in the circumstances,” he said.

Invensys said trading for the year to end-March remained on track and it continued to expect an improved performance on a year ago.

* Nils Pratley, of the Guardian, comments that Invensys is enjoying a period of relative stability: and adds that it’s unclear why chief Ulf Henriksson has been dropped, was he just too hungry for excitement:

“Ulf Henriksson, the human dynamo of Invensysfound himself turned off today. He was dropped as chief executive despite becoming the first boss in ages to make a success of the old BTR/Siebe engineering combo.

Unfair? One can understand why Henriksson might be miffed, but he did cut a strange figure sometimes. In a newspaper interview last year he speculated on the chances of Invensys being bought by a Chinese partner. A clarification followed.

There is clearly more to his departure than that. But the episode fuelled the sense that Henriksson was too hungry for excitement – yes, even in the world of control systems. Stability has taken a long time to arrive at Invensys. Best not to risk it.


FF appoints O’Brien as Marketing Manager

The Fieldbus Foundation has announced the appointment of Larry O’Brien as global marketing manager. Formerly of ARC Advisory Group, O’Brien has 18 years of experience in the process automation business as a research director and analyst at ARC, and has been closely tracking and reporting on developments surrounding Foundation fieldbus for much of his career.

As global marketing manager, O’Brien will be responsible for developing the strategic marketing direction for Foundation technology worldwide. He will oversee activities such as fieldbus seminar programs, trade show exhibitions, technical demonstrations and marketing communications.

“I am very excited to begin my work at the Fieldbus Foundation,” said O’Brien. “For many years, I have been writing about the business value proposition of Foundation fieldbus at ARC. Now I get to use the knowledge and experience I have gained to raise the level of awareness of this technology for both end users and suppliers. ARC has always believed that Foundation fieldbus offers a true process automation infrastructure providing significant lifecycle cost benefits and a path to superior asset management.“

Fieldbus Foundation President and CEO Rich Timoney welcomed O’Brien to the key post with his organization. “We are excited to have Larry as part of our team, and look forward to his leadership of our global marketing program in support of Foundation fieldbus,” said Timoney. “From his time with ARC, Larry has gained an extensive background in the area of digital plant automation. His qualifications will be very helpful in expanding the presence of Foundation technology around the world — particularly in developing industrial markets such as India, China, Latin America and the Middle East.”

While at ARC, O’Brien authored numerous market outlook studies and white papers covering topics ranging from fieldbus to distributed control systems, process safety systems, automation services and field instruments. For the Fieldbus Foundation, he has written white papers on the business value proposition of control in the fieldFOUNDATIONFieldbus for Safety Instrumented Functions (FF-SIF), and FOUNDATION fieldbus as an automation infrastructure.

* Barry S Young has subsequently joined the ARC automation team as a principal analyst. Young was until recently an account and project manager for New England Controls, an Emerson local business partner, and has previously been a project manager for Invensys/Foxboro, and a product manager for Masoneilan.

New valve service facility in UK for Metso

Metso has opened a new service facility at Seaham, County Durham, UK. The new Metso service centre covers 37,147 square feet of workshop, storage and office space to enhance the service and sales activities for UK customers. In its previous facility, the Metso UK service centre had been operating for over 25 years

The new UK service centre has the capacity and latest technology needed to handle large-scale shutdown turnarounds, general repairs, spare parts, training programmes, field support and diagnostic services. As in all Metso service centres, all repair and overhaul work is carried out according to Metso defined service procedures, and work leaves the service centre with certification and a standard warranty. The centre follows the quality and environmental procedures according to ISO9001 and ISO14000, and all service personnel at the UK service centre are ATEX trained and certified.

The key element in successful and economical valve maintenance is planning. Metso has created a set of services to support valve maintenance and turnaround planning,
offering support in Criticality Analysis and an Intelligent Field Survey to help in defining the maintenance plan or scope for the turnaround. The Metso Valve HealthCheck helps to analyse valve diagnostics: a service technician analyses the valve diagnostics regularly, and the condition of the valve is recorded and monitored to help reduce the risk of unplanned breakdowns.

Using the Metso Valve Spares Container helps secure spare part availability: a customised, pre-planned selection of spare parts will be held at the Metso service centre for the turnaround, against a service fee. Any unused parts can be returned according to the contract, and charges are only made according to spare parts consumption. Additionally, the Metso Valve Management Solution is a systematic standardisation of the installed valve base in cooperation with the customer. Currently, there are many customers relying on this service globally, and all of them have chosen to extend the agreement to a longer period with increased scope after having seen the positive impact on maintenance costs, as well as the positive impact on capital tied up in the valve inventories.

How safe are your pneumatic SIL3 rated valves?

Midland-ACS are part of ITT Flow Control, and as such appear to be destined to sit in the new ITT spin-off in the water business: but their activity is mainly in severe and hazardous areas, supplying pneumatic and hydraulic valve actuation components and systems. Acquired by ITT as part of a bigger group, maybe they did not really understand the business!

In a product launch last week at the First Friday Club in London, Derek Clure of Midland-ACS blew open a gaping hole in the claimed SIL ratings advertised for the pneumatically operated emergency shutdown valves used on many offshore platforms and refineries. Their product is called the OPD Stemsaver, which guards against any failure of the filter-regulator used in the pneumatic  supply of ESD valve actuators, by providing dual-redundant over-pressure protection.

Normal assessments of SIL ratings for these ESD valves take care to exclude the filter regulator, bolted onto the side of the valve.  Failure of these regulators usually results in exposure of the valve actuators to excessive pressure, that could be high enough to shear a valve stem or cause other damage. Responsible operators, such as Statoil, have recognized the problem that this regulator can fail fully open, and specify the actuator materials to tolerate the full overpressure capability of the system, often requiring expensive special valve stems.

In fact, Midland-ACS developed OPD Stemsaver following a request from an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor working for a North Sea oil producer. A failed filter-regulator offshore had led to the cover of a pneumatic actuator being blown off, leading to costly downtime and valve repair for the operator. The Midland-ACS OPD Stemsaver design avoids this possibility by providing a dual-redundant pressure regulation facility with one diaphragm regulator, coupled to a spring-tensioned poppet valve. The use of these two different regulation mechanisms provides additional reliability. When the poppet valve trips, the air pressure in the actuator is vented to atmosphere, and the pneumatic supply is isolated.  Plus a reset button pops up automatically, as a visible trip indicator. This can be linked to a proximity switch, to provide feedback to the plant’s distributed control system (DCS).

Over 100 of these OPD Stemsaver valves have been supplied offshore in the last year, on the projects undertaken by this EPC contractor. Having highlighted the problem to various other operators, further installations of the OPD Stemsaver are anticipated.

Here is the press release from Midland-ACS….great name, they are from the Midlands you see, near Birmingham I guess.

New dual-redundant over-pressure pneumatic regulator safeguards operation of critical process control valves

Midland-ACS launches a high-integrity pressure regulator for the pneumatic control systems that are widely used for valve actuation in the oil, gas and other processing industries. Called OPD Stemsaver, the device guards against any failure of the filter-regulator that controls compressed air system pressure, by providing dual-redundant over-pressure protection. It ensures that any downstream actuators for controlling process valves cannot be accidentally exposed to dangerous over-pressures that could be high enough to shear a valve stem or cause other damage. The device is an industry first, and provides plant and automation engineers with a high integrity safeguard against a failure mechanism that could lead to a costly process shutdown or injury.

Pneumatic actuation is very widely used in process automation systems, for controlling and sequencing valves. Automated control valves are particularly common in hazardous areas, such as offshore platforms and refineries. There may be as many as a 1000 actuated valves on an offshore platform for example, one of main markets served by Midland-ACS – part of the ITT Flow Control business.

In hazardous areas, actuated valves are often elements of a plant’s emergency procedures, such as the safety instrumented system (SIS) that controls emergency shut down (ESD). Depending on the emergency and type of process, valves may be automatically closed – to stop media feeding a fire for example – parts of the plant may be isolated, or media might be vented to atmosphere, via an emergency system vent (ESV).

Although considerable safety design effort goes into ensuring that the actuators that control these valves can be relied on in the event of an emergency, pneumatic actuation systems typically use a single filter-regulator component, and the failure of this component can expose downstream devices to pressures as high as two or more times the norm. This can be enough to cause significant damage, even providing an actuator with enough torque to shear a valve stem.

Midland-ACS developed OPD Stemsaver following a request from an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm working for a North Sea oil producer. A failed filter-regulator had led to the cover of a pneumatic actuator being blown off, leading to costly downtime of operations. The company’s OPD Stemsaver design avoids this possibility by providing a dual-redundant pressure regulation facility with one diaphragm regulator, coupled to a spring-tensioned poppet valve. The use of these two different regulation mechanisms provides additional reliability.

As standard, OPD Stemsaver can be set to regulate pressure in the 4-8 bar (58-116 PSI) range. The device is supplied as a single compact unit, fabricated in 316 stainless steel to meet the anti-corrosion requirements of environments such as offshore platforms, and process plants handling harsh media. In use, the secondary regulator is set to operate at a slightly higher pressure than the primary regulator. If the secondary regulator is activated, a reset button also automatically pops up. This can be linked to a proximity switch, to provide feedback to the plant’s distributed control system (DCS).

“If a valve actuator fails, it can easily lead to downtime or even a plant shutdown, and for continuous processes such events can be extremely costly,” says Derek Clure of Midland-ACS.  “OPD Stemsaver provides a practical and economic solution to safeguard against failure of the pneumatic regulator – one that we believe could benefit thousands of plants worldwide.”

OPD Stemsaver is available from Midland-ACS as an individual component. It is also compatible with the company’s innovative modular pneumatic control manifold – IMpact. This is a universally compatible interface block that mounts directly onto valve actuators, and accepts a range of field-proven pneumatic components. IMpact saves space and costs and is used by many of the world’s foremost control valve manufacturers – with tens of thousands of installations worldwide.

A datasheet on OPD Stemsaver can be downloaded from: <http://www.ittflowcontrol.com/files/mid-acs OPD brochure.pdf>.

Intelligent Sump Pump Control

Sump pump control is one of the simplest automation systems there can be, in theory. Water flows in, the level rises to a switch point, and a pump turns on to empty the sump.  But then if the water is actually sewage, with occasional high volume flows in storm conditions, and good pump practice means you need to minimize the number of pump starts, even out the pump wear, plus prevent any overflow under single pump failure conditions, while also minimizing pump energy consumption costs, then the control system can get more complicated. Then add some further intelligence that mimics the actions often required during regular inspections of the sump, to clean it out, and automatic features to detect when the pump efficiency is reduced because the entry is jammed with solids or rags or solids build-up, and initiate a flushing out or other procedure to clear the blockage, and the programme features become quite complex.

Whilst originally pump control schemes to address these problems were developed on the PLCs used to control wetwell pumping stations, industrial motor drive suppliers like ABB and Control Techniques have also been addressing such problems, and both have come up with configurable software packages (both named “Intelligent Pump Control”) for optional use on wetwells, using variable speed pump motor drives. Using these techniques has enabled significant savings in maintenance and cleaning costs at sites where pump ragging has been a problem, and as an additional benefit, higher pump efficiency has been shown to produce energy savings in normal running, calculated to be up to 15%.

Control Techniques IPC

Over several years the Control Techniques (CT) Intelligent Pump Control (IPC) system has built up a successful base of applications with several of the major UK and Ireland water companies, as well as in installations in USA, Canada, Dubai, and the Philippines. “IPC is unique in that it measures ‘live’ active current in real time, on-board the drive (Impeller true torque component every millisecond)” explains Control Techniques UK Water Manager, Brian Redpath. CT suggests that competitor’s systems have measured the motor’s nominal (total) current – a measurement that includes the magnetic field current and can give an error of up to 30-40% for required effective monitoring of impending ragging.

Redpath continues: “As soon as IPC sees a change in the active current set profile, an automated cleansing cycle is instantly initiated to clear the pump impeller.” The active current profile for each pump is established during commissioning, and this sets the standard against which future performance is compared. Any ‘out of profile’ performance is instantly detected, giving an early warning indication of ragging. The cleaning cycle involves a slow ramp down, and a period of reverse flow. As well as detecting and preventing ragging, IPC systems also provide several other intelligent performance optimisation functions, such as surge prevention to protect rising mains, and wear monitoring of pumps. The system also detects dry running fault conditions.

The Control Techniques (CT) IPC software fitted to a CT Commander SK AC drive at a pumping station at Kelly’s Bay, Skerries in North County Dublin, Ireland has cut callouts from ‘ragging’ from a weekly occurrence to just once over a period of six months. At Kelly’s Bay, two variable speed drives control main and standby pumps.  “The pumping station would run for a couple of weeks and then we’d get three or four call-outs in a week,” explains Fingal County Council’s Mechanical Supervisor Jim McGuiness.  “So, when it was time to replace one of the existing 15kW AC drives, Control Techniques Drive Centre in Newbridge suggested that we had the IPC software loaded.  Since then we have just run the one pump with the IPC software and monitored its performance by telemetry: maintenance costs have dramatically reduced.”

Graeme Moore, Senior Project Manager, Innovation & Technology for Scottish Water, recently presented the results of an evaluation of the CT IPC at their Levenhall Sewage Pumping Station, where blockages and ragging needed to be dealt with two to three times each week: the station has four foul pumps and three storm pumps. Within the wastewater industry, an estimated three quarters of all pumps are over-sized by more than 20% to provide a ‘factor of safety’ in the design, according to the British Pump Manufacturer’s Association.  The use of variable speed drives can be used to reduce the energy used by over-sized pumps, and reduce hydraulic system losses. The use of VSDs can play a substantial role in energy reduction by bringing the pump in line with the consented flow and reducing friction (energy) losses in the system.  The ‘soft start’ functions can also increase the life of components, such as bearings and seals. Levenhall uses circa £28k per annum of electricity and requires circa £15k per annum of operational interventions, to deal with ragging, blockages and pump trips. The installation of a VSD using IPC at Levenhall on one of the pumps produced an average running current on the VSD equipped pump of 15% to 30% less than the other pumps, plus no blockages. Peak operating currents were reduced by over 40%.

ABB Drives IPC

The ABB Intelligent Pump Control (IPC) software was launched back in 2006. The techniques have been refined in many applications, some of which are quoted below. New drives have been specifically developed for the water industry, and this software is specifically included in those: for other industrial drives the IPC is now a standard option.

ABB agree that the total current is not a suitable parameter for monitoring for pump blockage or reduced flow, and ABB monitor the speed and torque over the pump performance curve: they use “Direct Torque Control” (DTC), which is analogous to the CT “active current”: the two types of VSD use different approaches to speed control, so they are not exactly comparable.

The ABB IPC for water applications allows the selection of various schemes for pump reverse running, adjusting time and speed, since in some conditions impellers are supported by a nose nut. Also a blocked inlet to a pump might cause underload conditions rather than an excess of current, and the IPC allows a pump reverse cycle to clear such a blockage. A patented additional feature allows the IPC to make a calculation of the effluent flow rate, in normal flow conditions, using data from a pressure transmitter. The user can configure other specific functions, for individual site conditions, using the Solution Program Controller (SPC) blocks available from a pre-configured library.

The ABB IPC system was installed on a six pump sump used at the Severn Trent  (STW) Wanlip sewage treatment works, where four direct-on-line pumps and two variable speed drive (VSD) controlled pumps were showing low flow rates that appeared to be caused by ragging. The anti-jamming features in the IPC sorted the problems. Graham Drabble, the STW Capital Liaison Technician for Wanlip said: “As well as curing the flow problem, the new installation allows us to achieve our pumping requirement using only two or three pumps instead of all six, achieving an energy saving of approximately GBP100k per year.” Similar costs were saved on pump maintenance and cleaning at a four pump sump in the STW Worcester sewage treatment works, where the existing ABB 132kW industrial drives, supplied complete with filters to reduce harmonics, were given a simple upgrade to add the IPC software. Here the reverse running speed had to be restricted, because of the fibre content of the effluent, which needed to be unwound slowly.

In another installation for Anglian Water at its Stanbridgeford wastewater treatment works in Bedfordshire, two pumps using a 55kW ABB drive were equipped with IPC: the lack of ragging and the subsequent increase in operational time mean that the pumps can run at a lower speed or for less time and still achieve the desired pumping volumes, leading to energy savings, according to Adam Brookes, of Anglian Water’s Innovation Team

Redpath from CT comments: “Every site is different, and IPC is totally flexible, able to be configured to meet customer’s applications.  It works equally effectively on wet and dry well installations, and also treatment works pumps”. ABB would agree.


The INSIDER Newsletter for March 2011

The INSIDER newsletter issue for March features the following stories: the abstracts here give a taste of the topics covered. To see the full stories, why not take out a subscription to the full 12 page newsletter? For further information see www.iainsider.co.uk.

Will the Invensys capability presentations help avoid the acquisition attention?

Invensys Operations Management (IOM) were chosen by the Invensys UK board as the main focus of a Capital Markets Day presentation in London on 25 February. Sudipta Bhattacharya, President and Chief Executive of Invensys Operations Management, commented: “Our growth is coming from our success in winning large greenfield projects, particularly in the oil, gas and power sectors, and the increasing demand from customers for advanced applications and solutions that help them improve the performance of their assets, and reduce their carbon footprint.”

Supporting Bhattacharya in making the presentation was Dr Peter Martin, vp and Invensys Fellow, who heads up and is developing the Business Value Solutions team within Invensys, a control system business consulting group and a job far more interesting than presenting the elements of control systems to analysts. Martin also knows that if he is successful, his job will disappear in 3 years, because younger versions of him will be spread around the world. Martin took the time to talk to the INSIDER during his trip to London, to explain the creation of their InFusion ECS (Enterprise Control System).

The Invensys news flow continues with an InFusion installation at an ExxonMobil lube oil plant explained, and then announcements about new nuclear plant deals in China, plus interesting developments in assisting the Russian government develop the electricity power distribution system to improve efficiencies.

Speculators get power and automation industry bid fever

Invensys, valued at GBP2.7Bn on the London stock market, was the subject of further bid rumours late in February – but then Invensys has that unenviable reputation. Then Joe Kaeser, finance director at Siemens, in an interview with the Financial Times, suggested that they were ready to spend several billions on an acquisition, to strengthen both its power networks and plant automation businesses. The INSIDER article reviews the many different possibilities for the first Siemens acquisition, settling on two different but interesting prospects.

Yokogawa continues with business restructuring

Yokogawa has announced third quarter results for their 2010 Financial Year, which ends on 31 March 2011. Despite the impact of the strong Yen, the Q1-3 Controls business orders overall were up 5% on the previous year. The business restructuring outlined in February 2009 continues, but possibly has not been as fast as the shareholders would have wanted. A major part of the Yokogawa majority shareholding in Kokusai Chart Corporation will be sold to Toshiba by end March 2011, realising approximately Yen1Bn. The biggest problem for Yokogawa appears to be the future allocation of 175 mainly Japan-based employees surplus to requirements. The new Yokogawa ceo in North America is Chester (Chet) Mroz, who gave a presentation of his targets for the next few years at the recent ARC World Manufacturing Forum in Orlando.

Danube refinery is HART plant of 2011

the MOL Danube petrol refinery at Százhalombatta, Hungary, is the recipient of the HART Plant of the Year Award this year. Starting in 2002, MOL engineers made the strategic decision to install HART-enabled devices throughout their operation and to utilize all the benefits of HART Communication, both wired and wireless, in the broadest possible scope. This decision was part of a plant-wide refining maintenance strategy with the objective of increasing operational reliability.MOL have worked with Honeywell for over 20 years, across four refinery and petrochemical sites in Hungary and the Slovak Republic, more recently Honeywell has provided full technology support for the existing MOL Honeywell TDC3000, TPS and Experion Process Knowledge Systems.

How safe are those SIL3 – rated ESD valves?

Midland-ACS are part of ITT Flow Control, and as such appear to be destined to sit in the new ITT spin-off in the water business: but their activity is mainly in severe and hazardous areas, supplying pneumatic and hydraulic valve actuation components and systems.

In a product launch last week at the First Friday Club in London, Midland-ACS blew open a gaping hole in the claimed SIL ratings advertised for the pneumatically operated emergency shutdown valves used on many offshore platforms and refineries. Normal assessments of SIL ratings for these ESD valves take care to exclude the filter regulator, bolted onto the side of the valve.  Failure of these regulators usually results in exposure of the valve actuators to excessive pressure, that could be high enough to shear a valve stem or cause other damage. Responsible operators, such as Statoil, have recognized the problem that this regulator can fail fully open, and specify the actuator materials to tolerate the full overpressure capability of the system, often requiring expensive special valve stems.

The FDT2.0 Standard supports FDI Packages

The FDT 2.0 Standard is on track for final adoption and release later this year. Many new features and capabilities have been included in the standard, but great care has also been taken to ensure that FDT 2.0 Frame or Host Applications will have backward compatibility to the installed base of FDT 1.x DTMs. It does now appear that this battleground over industry standards, at one time as hard fought as the other battles of PROFIBUS versus Foundation fieldbus, and ISA100 versus WirelessHART, might be sorted out in a valid compromise and collaboration.

Night Dragon: web-based marketing intelligence?

Dragon started in November 2009, originating from several locations in China, working through Command and Control (C&C) servers on purchased hosted services in the United States, with other compromised servers in the Netherlands. The objective was to target global oil, gas, and petrochemical companies, as well as individuals and executives based in Kazakhstan,Taiwan, Greece, and the United States. The hackers wanted to acquire proprietary and highly confidential information: ie market intelligence to assist in commercial bid negotiations, for a client, presumably in Asia. Every major corporation is at risk in this way, you just need the right defences.

Which standard route will the wireless waves take?

The progress to standardisation of wireless systems continues, as you might expect, to march down the several different directions that each supplier feels suits their business model the best. The ISA100.12 committee, revitalised by a user revolt last year, met alongside the ARC Forum inOrlando to review three proposals as to how to establish a future working relationship between the polarised opinions.

A ray of reasonable intelligence is reported, emerging from Hesh Kagan at Invensys, which was that “Invensys has been supporting the development of ISA100 as an open standard since the beginning.  We believe the ISA100 architecture is consistent with our view of enterprise wide industrial wireless and the overall ECS concept.  The development of ISA100 was accomplished with the participation of many WirelessHART proponents and includes all of the functionality of HART plus many other functional capabilities required to meet the current and future application requirements of our users.”

Rockwell changes market and management

Steve Eisenbrown, the current Rockwell svp responsible for the Architecture and Software (A&S) operating segment, is to take the role of svp Strategic Development from April 2011, and will be responsible for global business development, alignment of strategic investments and initiatives as well as the company’s multi-year global business process transformation project.

Currently around 50% of Rockwell business comes from the North American sales region, but the future goal is that 60% should be coming from the rest of the world. This was stressed in relation to the emphasis placed on the Asia-Pacific region in their current reorganization, but John Nesi, vp of business development, also stressed the recent investment in the HiProm acquisition, to strengthen activity in the sub-Saharan African market.

Metso 2010 success, expanding in bio-power

Metso has reported another successful year in 2010: orders were up 36% on 2009 at nearly Eur6Bn, or $8Bn: these were split evenly between Europe, N+S America, and Asia/Africa/Middle East. Return on capital was around 13.5% last year: they are performing well.

Control readers’ survey rankings

The marketing departments for Rockwell and Emerson produced interesting texts to proclaim their individual leadership at the top of the Control magazine survey of process automation users’ rankings in February 2011. Emerson showed they had more to lose than anyone else, by claiming the 18th consecutive year of being chosen in more product categories than any competitor. Interestingly the Rockwell press release is then also able to claim that they were ranked highest in numerous “Best in Control” and product categories, with more first place industry finishes than any other supplier.

ODVA develops Ethernet based energy monitoring

ODVA has launched a new energy initiative, in cooperation with major suppliers including Cisco Systems, Rockwell Automation and Schneider Electric, to develop a comprehensive approach to the optimization of energy usage for the industrial consumer, an approach that would be scalable, open and inclusive for both users and suppliers.