A delegate’s view of the ARC Forum 2012

The ARC ‘World Industry Forum’ in Orlando in February was a record breaking event, with 664 attendees from 21 countries, and 254 separate companies. These delegates chose from 60 sessions featuring 154 speakers and/or panelists, and even the pre-conference workshop on security, the day before the Forum opened, was over-subscribed. For a report on the event from a delegate’s viewpoint, the INSIDER is indebted to Maurice Wilkins, vp of global strategic marketing at Yokogawa, who attended as part of a delegation of 25 from Yokogawa, their largest attendance since 2006. This report was featured in the March 2012 issue of the INSIDER.

Report by Maurice Wilkins:
“This ARC Forum is still THE place to meet senior people in the automation industry, even though the focus has now shifted away from automation – the subtitle for the event was “Transforming Manufacturing through New Processes and Technologies” – but this is the place where we can all meet and compare notes as we used to at the ISA show, which few of these people now attend, to hear about new stuff that matters in our industry. I have to say that it actually looked like the best I have ever been to in terms of attendees, but the comment I heard over and over was there were too many suppliers. All the major suppliers were there in force, although Honeywell was conspicuous by only sending one attendee. There was also a big presence from the PLC suppliers – for example Rockwell, Mitsubishi and Schneider.
This year the focus had shifted from automation to asset management, human factors, security, supply chain and industrial IT. In his keynote speech, Andy Chatha, president and ceo of ARC Advisory Group, said that the four main areas of interest these days are: social media, cloud, analytics and mobile. He said every company needs a mobile enterprise application platform.

Boeing and J&J production
The main keynotes were by Dr Dianne Chang – vp operations and technology for Boeing – and Ron Guido, vp global brand protection for Johnson & Johnson. Dr Chang spent a lot of time talking about the changes that building the 787 has brought about – it was manufactured globally and assembled in the USA. She said technology is advancing at an ever increasing pace but they have to balance creativity with value creation. Boeing’s biggest current worry is a general industry concern – they have 11% of employees now over 60. They have to create a talent pipeline. Guido’s main concern is a $650Bn counterfeit market and protecting J&J’s brands. His main aim is a safe and secure supply chain using new track + trace technology and business models.

Dow Chemicals operator expertise
In a very good session on ‘Operator of the Future’, Eric Cosman of Dow Chemical said that operator effectiveness is a mixture of risk minimization and the reduction of unscheduled downtime. Dow’s operator demographics are scary: 35% are eligible for retirement now, 50% within 5 years, 70% in 8 years – and 15% have less than 5 years experience. He said skills are different compared to 30 years ago – regulations have increased – technology is different and so is human behaviour and motivation. New operators are capable of doing more but the Dow philosophy is to put the most effective practices of the most effective operators into the control platform.

Other notable presentations
Mark Chavis of Shell Gulf of Mexico, incidentally a Yokogawa customer, gave a good presentation on alarm rationalization and how they had achieved an order of magnitude reduction by looking hard at alarms and making sure that those showing up really had to be dealt with.
Stefan Malmsten gave a very interesting presentation on how an Akzo Nobel plant in Norway has been operated remotely on nights and weekends for the past 10 years using GE Proficy. Then a presenter from NAMUR, talking in the standards session, said that standards are not working! He said the value of standards is below its potential due to too many special interests, and he cited the “Fieldbus Wars” and “Wireless Wars” as examples.

Lastly, a surprise track on the last day of the Forum covered ‘Social Technologies for Industry’: there were probably 60 people in the room to hear several presenters discuss the impact that social media is starting to have on our industry….”

Yokogawa Centum adds new monitoring features

That concludes Maurice’s report for the INSIDER, but to add one piece of news actually presented by Yokogawa at this ARC Forum, it is worth mentioning that Chet Mroz, president and ceo of the Yokogawa Corporation of America, gave their press presentation, explaining their Evolution 2015 plan and objectives, particularly relating to the USA (See INSIDER, February 2012 issue). Mroz also described the latest release 5 of the Centum VP integrated production control system, due out in March, as follows.

This release adds support for a dual-redundant unified gateway station (UGS), which serves as the interface between Centum VP and other control systems, and this allows the display of alarm information from other control systems on the Centum VP human machine interface (HMI).

The logic for this addition is that on established legacy control architectures, as installed throughout the oil, chemical, and iron and steel industries, there are many separate distributed control systems (DCSs), programmable controllers (PLCs), and even other types of control systems from a variety of suppliers. These are used to control their own particular functions, such as electric power, wastewater treatment, shipping, and other auxiliary facilities, as well as being used within the main manufacturing process itself. By monitoring all of these control systems via the Centum VP, acting as the main process DCS and operator interface, plant efficiency can be improved.

Dual redundancy simplified
Yokogawa point out that plant monitoring and control functions are usually designed to be dual redundant so that an automatic switchover to a backup unit can be initiated in the event of a system failure. Although the gateway unit that serves as the interface for the monitoring of other control systems from the main process DCS should also be dual redundant, systems with this feature have not been widely adopted because of the requirement for special software. Using the Yokogawa UGS as the interface between Centum VP and other third party control systems, only simple programming is required to include dual redundancy. Alarms from other control systems can then be displayed on the Centum VP HMI via an OPC Alarms and Events server.

Nobuaki Konishi, vp and head of the IA systems business for Yokogawa, commented: “To achieve integrated plant monitoring and control by a DCS, gateway functions must be highly reliable. This has been accomplished with our development of a dual-redundant UGS, enabling for the upstream market the integrated monitoring of offshore platforms and widely distributed facilities such as oil and gas wells. I believe this enhanced UGS will help customers improve production efficiency.” As well as oil and gas applications, remote monitoring of water supply systems, wastewater treatment facilities, power transmission/distribution facilities and other types of infrastructure are seen as the main opportunity areas for this approach.