Automation users to meet policy makers

Automated Britain, the one day London conference to be held on March 6 2012, will provide a unique opportunity for automation users to interface with policy makers in government and industry. Here, Marco Pisano, programme manager of Intellect, argues that the Automated Britain conference, to take place at the Commonwealth Club in London, is one of a number of factors that could herald a renaissance in UK manufacturing. 

Automated systems and processes are an essential part of attracting direct investments and represent a key component for growth to rebalance the British economy. A combination of world-class R&D from the corporate and academic sectors and early adoption of automated technologies by UK manufacturers can accelerate economic recovery in Britain.

Participants at the Automated Britain conference will learn about the government’s manufacturing growth strategy and get an insight into automation strategies and market trends. Steve Brambley, deputy director of GAMBICA says: “Automation users and manufacturers will demonstrate that the economy can be rebalanced by manufacturing, and automation plays a major part in that.

“The government aims to rebalance the economy away from reliance on services and towards industry, which at the moment only stands at 22% of GDP. This contrasts with a European average of 25% and a world average of 31%. The part that the financial sector played in the economic downturn has given Government a desire to be less reliant on services. What we want to show is that automation is a key player in making this rebalancing happen and to make UK business competitive in a global market.”

Automated Britain is a joint initiative between GAMBICA and Intellect and will alert the manufacturing industry, Government and the media to the economic benefits that automation offers. It will also spread best practice by having senior executives from the automation and manufacturing industries jointly present case studies on successful uses of automation to improve competitiveness.

The conference will also explore whether there are any perceived obstacles that discourage industry from making more of this type of investment. Case studies will be presented by manufacturing companies such as Rolls Royce, Kraft Foods, National Grid and Ricoh in tandem with their automation partners ABB, Emerson, Honeywell, Rockwell, PCME and Siemens.

Steve Brambley argues that there are examples where global companies have decided to invest in the UK, and adds: “The conference will positively demonstrate what is happening right now, and what is possible if we join up policy decisions with industry best practice.”

To attend Automated Britain go to www.automatedbritain.co.uk and click book now. GAMBICA and Intellect members, readers of the INSIDER newsletters and invited guests will pay a special rate of only £245 to attend.

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New and enhanced drivers for KEPServerEX

Kepware Technologies has announced the release of KEPServerEX 5.8, a major upgrade that includes new drivers, and several new features aimed at helping existing customers on Kepware’s support and maintenance program to improve their business operations, performance, and security.

To expand existing connectivity, KEPServerEX now features a new Allen-Bradley ControlLogix Unsolicited Driver, which greatly expands connectivity for plant wide optimization.  Also included in this release are advanced communications and infrastructure improvements to more fully integrate with Fisher ROC and ROC Plus Controllers providing customers with enhanced interoperability.  

Accompanying the KEPServerEX 5.8 release are updates for Kepware’s LinkMaster 3.0, RedundancyMaster 2.0 and ClientAce 3.5.  LinkMaster and RedundancyMaster are now fully supported on Windows 7/Vista and Windows Server 2008/2003 and have incorporated the same Kepware licensing and service support model as KEPServerEX V5. ClientAce 3.5 has been updated to include support for Visual Studio 2010 and contains additional sample code.

“Kepware customers expect us to deliver robust products and services based on our continuing commitment to research and development and focus on quality,” said Tony Paine, president and ceo of Kepware Technologies.  “The release of KEPServerEX 5.8 reflects our on-going efforts to enhance our products for our existing customers and allow them to solve their ever changing business challenges.”

KEPServerEX 5.8 also includes the addition of Modbus Channel Serialization, enhanced Device Level Communication Diagnostics to aid with performance tuning and assist with troubleshooting.  For security and regulatory control, KEPServerEX now delivers optimized event logging, finer user management control and allows the user to control whether or not client applications can directly access device memory.

Kepware Technologies has developed a wide range of communication and interoperability software solutions for the automation industry. Kepware solutions allow the connection of disparate software and hardware systems, providing applications with quality, ease of use, and high performance. In-depth experience with software design, development, support, and maintenance allows Kepware to provide high-performance communications software without sacrificing quality and ease of use. See more on www.kepware.com.

London conference on “Automated Britain”

“Automated Britain” will be a high powered one-day conference in London on 6th March which will discuss and present the role of automation as a key factor in growing the UK economy. Jointly organized by GAMBICA and Intellect, speakers will be drawn from Government – both politicians and civil servants involved in industrial support, and industry – both users and suppliers of modern automation systems. Two panel discussions will focus on whether “Automation creates growth and increases employment”, and on “The drivers that will encourage an uptake of investment in automation”: the panel members represent some of the best known authorities on advanced manufacturing techniques operating in the UK. The full programme can be seen on http://www.gambica.org.uk/AutomatedBritain .

The event is sponsored by Siemens, ABB, Omron, Danfoss and SEMTA, and will be opened by Mark Prisk MP, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise. Presentations will be made by representatives from Siemens, Premier Foods, SEMTA, Kraft Foods, Rockwell Automation, Emerson Process Management, Rolls Royce, Ricoh, ABB, National Grid, Honeywell Control Systems, BARA, PCME and ETS, the latter two discussing UK emissions monitoring regulations, and how these lead to world-wide leverage.

Taking place at the Commonwealth Club in central London, from 0930 to 1720 on 6th March, the event will have a small associated exhibition by the event sponsors, plus other manufacturing automation suppliers such as Eaton, Mitsubishi, PCME, Rittal and Schneider Electric. Attendance cost is reduced to GBP245 for GAMBICA and Intellect members and their invited guests – and the same rate applies to readers of the INSIDER newsletter and this report, if requested on application.

FDI develops single common field device solution

The five major automation foundations, including the FDT Group, Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation, PROFIBUS & PROFINET International, and OPC Foundation have developed a single common solution for Field Device Integration (FDI). These foundations have combined their efforts to form a joint company named FDI Cooperation, LLC (a limited liability company under US law). FDI Cooperation, LLC is headed by a “Board of Managers”, which is composed of the representatives of the involved organizations, as well as managers of global automation suppliers including ABB, Emerson, Endress+Hauser, Honeywell, Invensys, Siemens, and Yokogawa.” FDI LLC marks an unprecedented level of cooperation among suppliers and foundations to achieve a single integration technology for the benefit of end users”, says Achim Laubenstein, managing director of the FDI Cooperation. FDI’s mandate is to develop a single technology for the management of information that comes from all intelligent devices throughout all areas of the plant. The mission of FDI LLC is to do the following:

  • Complete the standardization of FDI under the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).
  • Manage the FDI Specification.
  • Finalize the FDI tool kits for system and device manufacturers.
  • Promote and provide high quality technology support for FDI, independent of and common for the respective communication protocols.
  • Preserve end users’ and automation manufacturers’ investments by providing state-of-the-art technology that is fully backward compatible.
  • Ensure stability, interoperability and compatibility of FDI-based products.

Why FDI?

Efficient and economically viable device integration requires multiprotocol, standardized technology that makes device information available across systems and applications from different manufacturers. In the past, the development of such uniform technology was inhibited by too many different interests from organizations and automation manufacturers, resulting in the creation of disparate technical solutions. The current solutions – EDDL (Electronic Device Description Language) in various formats and FDT (Field Device Technology) – have their strengths and weaknesses, but also overlap to a large extent and thus lead to additional expense for users and manufacturers.

FDI technology will provide a very scalable solution that users can deploy in applications ranging from simple configuration to complex management of the most sophisticated field devices for the various tasks associated with all phases of their lifecycle, from configuration, commissioning, and diagnostics to calibration. This makes different solutions for different devices obsolete. FDI is a truly unified solution that addresses end user requirements across the spectrum.

Harmonization of EDDL

FOUNDATION fieldbus, PROFIBUS, and HART all use EDDL as a core technology, but they all use slightly different variations of the technology. The FDI Cooperation has harmonized EDDL across communication protocols. This enables FDI to provide single cross protocol FDI Design and Test Tools including a common EDD Interpreter. EDDL harmonization is now complete, and this greatly facilitates the second step — harmonization between EDDL and FDT technologies. This is the ultimate goal of FDI.

Concept Proven

In November of 2011 at the NAMUR meeting in Germany, FDI device packages were used for the first time to integrate FOUNDATION Fieldbus, HART, and PROFIBUS field devices from various manufacturers within an ABB process control system. Typical applications, such as parameter assignment, configuration, diagnostics, and maintenance, were demonstrated. The purpose of the working prototype was to verify the FDI concepts, apply the standard host components in a system context, and demonstrate FDI functionality. This successful demonstration leads us to our next steps. 

 

Next Steps

    • First draft of the FDI specifications was published at the end of 2011.
    • Completion of Conformance test concepts to occur mid-2012.
    • Completion of the validation and release of the FDI specifications for member review within the foundations (mid-2012).
    • Completion of the FDI standard host components, such as EDD Engine and User Interface (UI) Engine by the FDI Cooperation (end of 2012).

End User Benefits

The primary benefit of FDI is that end users with either an FDT or EDDL-based host will have a single source solution for managing the wealth of functionality and information from intelligent field devices. Users will no longer need to manage disparate device descriptions, which will reduce the costs associated with maintaining assets in the field.

FDI combines the advantages of FDT with those of EDDL in a single, scalable solution. FDI is applicable to a wide range of tasks over the entire lifecycle of the plant for both simple and the most complex devices, including configuration, commissioning, remote diagnostics, calibration, and more.

Yokogawa back on a growth track

Yokogawa Electric of Japan is back on a growth track, after the first half results for 2011,  with the business totally focussed on Industrial Automation and Control. Shuzo Kaihori, president and ceo of Yokogawa Electric, has released a new business plan, detailing the Yokogawa aims and objectives through to the end of fiscal year 2015, and restating their long term vision and objective of becoming the global “Number 1 company in industrial automation and control”. This was a Yokogawa ambition that was first expressed as a ten year Yokogawa objective in the year 2000, but this was put on hold after their financial problems in 2008.

“Evolution 2015”
The plan presented by Kaihori is called “Evolution 2015”: he describes it as a ‘mid-term’ business plan, and with the parallel announcement of their financial results for the first half of 2011/12 it signals the emergence of Yokogawa from their period of “Consolidation and Structural Reform”, which followed the financial losses made during the years 2008/09 and 2009/10. This period has involved pruning and cut-backs in the Test and Measurement Division plus withdrawal from some T+M business areas, and a concentration of activities onto Industrial Automation and Control.

Financial history
Harry Hauptmeijer, president of Yokogawa Europe, explained much of this background at a user group meeting in Holland, which also launched their ISA100 wireless transmitters, back in June 2010 (INSIDER, July 2010, page 4). The 2009/10 results announced then had shown that total group sales had dropped 16% to 316Bn Yen (around $3.4Bn). For the last full financial year, ie 2010/11, group sales recovered by 2.8% to reach 326Bn Yen (stronger exchange rates made this equivalent to $3.9Bn), but the Yokogawa group had still made a nett loss, arising largely from some of the then remaining Test and Measurement business areas.

Current results
In the six months from April through to end September 2011, the first half of the financial year that Yokogawa refer to as FY2011, trading was at orders, sales and income levels above budget, and better than the equivalent period in 2010: they even achieved a positive nett income ($9m) for the period, despite the strong Yen/Dollar exchange rate [Over the last five years the Yen has increased by 60% in value compared to the US Dollar]. Industrial Automation and Control (IAC) represented 85% of the order intake, and 65% of this business was obtained outside Japan. Yokogawa has had to face a significant annual decline in the value of their home market sales, ever since FY2004, which has made their overall sales growth record all the more remarkable. The budget for FY2011 (to March 2012) suggests a total annual sales value of 336Bn Yen ($4.4Bn), and operating income of 15Bn Yen, i.e 4.5% of sales.

Ambitious target
A plan for the IAC business to become “Number 1” in the world from this start point is fairly ambitious, particularly when taking the annual reports from just two competitors – Rockwell reported $6Bn sales, and Emerson Process Management $7Bn sales, for their years ending 30th September 2011. Consulting the 2010 charts derived from the ControlGlobal rankings, even for the “Rest of the world” market – i.e excluding sales made in the USA – Yokogawa was ranked at 6th place (INSIDER January 2012, page 5). So how will Yokogawa achieve that Number 1 slot?

The master plan
The plan for the mid-term period to the end of fiscal year 2015/16 envisages annual sales by then of 400Bn Yen ($5Bn), a growth of [only] 20% from the budget level for 2011/12 [which is a growth rate of 4.7% pa for these four years] – plus an operating income improvement to 10% of sales. So these financial figures look easily achievable, and this is not too arduous a forecast, when compared to the published ABB plan for the next five years, which anticipates process automation growth of 6-9% per annum.
Recently reported results show that over the last year Rockwell increased sales by 24%, and Emerson Process Management increased 16% (the latter admittedly from 2010 sales that were marginally down on 2009), and Invensys Operations Management reported 21% growth in the period April to September 2011 (note that IOM is less than half the size of Yokogawa in terms of sales). So Yokogawa will have to accelerate a little more to catch up with their competitors – and it looks like it will be an extended, multi-year journey to achieve that Number 1 slot, unless they can add a few notable acquisitions. Significantly, Kaihori does say that Evolution 2015 is the first step in this plan, and he has not announced a target date for reaching the final objective.

Initial steps by segments
For the Industrial Automation and Control (IAC) business over the next four years, their regional targets will be the BRIC countries, Middle East, Southeast Asia and Oceania: new frontiers and sales channels will be opened in Africa, Central Asia and South America. Their strong Japanese home market position will be defended by offering services that enhance productivity, safety, energy saving and environmental conservation, plus using their system integration capabilities, including third party products, for production management and control systems. An expansion into the new market of high performance materials for secondary batteries is also planned.
The industry focus will be on their target industries of oil and gas field development and production (upstream), electric power and speciality chemicals: Yokogawa plan to set up centres of excellence in Japan, Singapore, the USA and Europe, to bring together industry-specific control expertise. This will include energy saving and plant energy management in Japan, gas drilling in the United States and Europe, oil drilling in the Middle East, fine chemicals in Germany, and electric power in Australia. They also plan to actively enter the renewable energy market including biomass, geothermal, wind, and solar heat power generation.
The most competitive Yokogawa sensor products are seen as the pressure/DP transmitters and the process gas analysers: rather than in-house developments, Yokogawa say they will consider expanding the sensor product line via alliances and acquisitions.

Business structural reform
A theme throughout the presentation is an emphasis on globalization of the business, and also of avoiding the previous problems with the exchange rate, which made the Japanese operations expensive. More of the production, engineering, R&D and administration will be transferred to group operations outside Japan, and international procurement expanded. The system for “recruiting and utilizing human resources from other countries” will be strengthened, and the human resources development system improved, to allow the dynamic transfer of personnel between group companies, including the Japan HQ.

This article was first published in the INSIDER newsletter for February 2012: for subscription information please see http://www.iainsider.co.uk