Profinet helps GE make appliance manufacture leaner

This application story provided by Profinet International describes the adoption of Profinet by GE to expedite the manufacturing plant recently built in the USA, to return domestic appliance manufacture to the USA from the Far East.

Moving at the speed demanded in today’s business environment, where stiff competition means new products must be made and introduced faster than ever before, requires technologies that simplify production start-ups. For GE Appliances, these technologies include the Profinet industrial Ethernet network.

Profinet provides the backbone for a new lean manufacturing system that is producing GE’s latest home laundry appliance, a high-efficiency top-loading washer. By dramatically reducing the time and cost to install new production lines at GE’s 900-acre Appliance Park in Louisville, Kentucky, the Profinet network helped GE bring its innovative washer to market in time for the 2012 holiday buying season.

Shortening cycle time

“We needed to shorten the cycle time for building and installing new manufacturing equipment,” said Robert Frank, senior advanced manufacturing engineer, explaining why Profinet was chosen for the new HE washer production lines at Building 1, Home Laundry, a 1.3million square foot facility with approximately 1300 employees.

“The machine that fabricates the washer apron (the front and sides of the new top-loading washer) has approx. 500 input/output points,” said frank, pointing to one example of the efficiencies gained with Profinet. “With traditional wiring practice, 1500 individual wires would have to be cut, stripped, numbered and terminated. We also would have had to disconnect and reconnect 500 of those wires when the equipment was shipped from the machine builder to our facility. All of that wiring was replaced with 15 Profinet and 15 DC power cables.”

Profinet also made it simple to connect valves from the compressed air system used in the washer assembly. “The valves need to be located near the devices they are powering- bringing compressed air to a cylinder, for example,” said Frank. “Profinet eliminated the wiring and conduit needed for traditional hard-wired valves. The valve packs also have the capability for inputs, so the sensors used to verify that the cylinder has moved can be plugged into the valve pack, which eliminated the wiring for those devices as well.”

The Profinet ability to provide the same capabilities in less time and at a lower cost was a deciding factor. “We were looking for less time to implement new products and we wanted Profinet to take less time to build our equipment,” explained Frank. “But we also wanted the performance to be no different than what we had been getting with our previous method of wiring equipment. Profinet saves us time, and in the end, the result is invisible – it just gets there faster.”

Staff familiarity with Ethernet technology assures reliable network support, added Frank. “One of the factors in choosing Profinet was that it is Ethernet technology, which is very widely used. There’s a much better understanding of it than there is of some small proprietary network that might only be around for a few years. We expect Profinet to be around a long time.”

Lean transforms manufacturing

The transformation at the Home Laundry facility is part of a $1Bn investment by GE, most of it at Appliance Park, to revitalize its global manufacturing operations. By introducing lean manufacturing principles, and technologies such as Profinet, to reduce costs and improve competitiveness, GE expects to launch 11 revitalized product lines over the next few years, and in the process create more than 1400 new jobs in the USA.

“Lean has changed production processes through simplification,” said Frank. “Instead of bigger and more complex, the process has taken the facility back to basics. De-complication is one of the biggest gains through lean production.” Lean has also fostered greater teamwork between sourcing, technology and manufacturing, as well as stronger partnerships with suppliers.

Widely accepted standard

GE sources manufacturing equipment from machine builders in many countries, so their comfort with Profinet was a major consideration. “It seemed like all the suppliers we looked at were offering Profinet solutions, which was important since it is the preferred Ethernet network for GE Intelligent Platforms automation solutions,” Frank said. “The suppliers that build the equipment, they’ve been pleased with it also. They like the ease of starting it up and the reduction in the man-hours required to install the equipment and get it up and running.”

Frank pointed to Profinet’s open standard as a corporate-wide advantage for GE. “We have plants around the country, not just in Louisville. Different plants will use different equipment because they have a different supplier base that’s local to them. Profinet lets us use multiple suppliers, so we can standardize on how we’re doing things but have enough flexibility that plants at different sites can still utilize their local base of suppliers, and get the support they’ve always had.”

Flexibility, now and in the future

Frank sees the flexibility of Profinet as a key benefit. “It is a scalable solution. It will work well on a long production line, where everything is spread out. It will also work on a more compact piece of equipment where there is a lot of I/O concentrated. In fact, the greater number of I/O, the greater our savings,” he said.

“In addition, as we start up a new factory, there are always things that end up changing: you want to try something, or add something else, or change things. What’s nice is that Profinet allows us to add things easily. We can install a Profinet block and add some I/O or an additional valve pack. It really helps as we’re getting up and running, It saves us a lot of time when we have to make an alteration like that.”

Frank expects Profinet to benefit GE appliance manufacturing far into the future. “Profinet contributes in several ways. By reducing the cost of equipment, it frees up investment dollars to be spent on new products and features. And by reducing implementation time, products reach the consumer faster. The ease of adding or changing a machine allows new features to be implemented faster and for less cost. The result is that we can come out with more new products, so the consumer is the big beneficiary in all of this.”

Emerson buys Groveley Detection

Emerson Process Management, a business of Emerson, has acquired Groveley Detection Ltd., a leading innovator and developer of ultrasonic gas leak detection solutions for both offshore and onshore oil and gas installations. UK-based Groveley Detection was the first company to develop a piezo-electric based ultrasonic gas leak detector engineered for extreme industrial applications.

Groveley will join the company’s Rosemount Analytical business unit, expanding Emerson’s safety monitoring portfolio. With the completed acquisition, Emerson significantly strengthens its position in the global safety monitoring market by adding the Groveley ultrasonic gas leak detection technology to the complementary Net Safety fixed gas detection and flame detection product line. Groveley products are used in a broad range of energy exploration and processing applications, in addition to several industrial plant settings.

“The acquisition of Groveley expands our capabilities to offer the most comprehensive solution to our customers for their total safety monitoring requirements,” said Ken Biele, president of the Emerson Analytical Group. “The addition also leverages our companies’ synergies in sales, marketing, engineering and other key operational areas.”

Robert Bennet, Managing Director at Groveley, added: “Joining a global leader like Emerson Process Management represents an incredible opportunity. We expect our customer base to grow exponentially, as well as our ability to help solve customer problems by developing some of the most innovative safety products in the industry.”

ABB names Ulrich Spiesshofer as CEO

The Board of ABB has unanimously appointed Ulrich Spiesshofer, the head of its Discrete Automation and Motion (DM) division, as Chief Executive Officer. He will succeed Joe Hogan in this role in an orderly transition on September 15, 2013. Hogan will continue with ABB for some months as Senior Advisor to the Board.

Spiesshofer joined ABB’s Executive Committee in 2005 and was named responsible for DM in 2009. He has led a doubling of the division’s revenues by organic and inorganic means, and the integration of Baldor – ABB’s largest ever acquisition. He has increased profit margins through a turnaround in Robotics, as well as the profitable growth and relentless execution of the motors and drives activities.

“ABB has developed a strong bench of talent: I am extremely pleased that the new CEO comes from within the company, and brings a solid track record and deep knowledge of the portfolio,” said ABB Chairman Hubertus von Grünberg. “Ulrich has been a key force in shaping and implementing ABB’s strategy, and the integration of Baldor stands out as a benchmark for successful large acquisitions.”

Spiesshofer also initiated other business expansion activities in DM based on organic growth and acquisitions. These have helped DM to grow faster than the market and to expand into new business areas such as e-mobility and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), as well as to better balance the business geographically. The planned acquisition of Power-One would make ABB a leading global supplier of solar inverters. A successor to his role in DM will be announced in due course.

CEO Joe Hogan said: “Ulrich has done a tremendous job in DM based on the solid knowledge and experience acquired in many successful years within ABB and outside. With his strong contribution and team-oriented collaboration, our mid-term strategy has been making great progress.”

Prior to taking over DM, Spiesshofer was responsible for Corporate Development, leading strategy development and implementation across the power and automation businesses, in very close collaboration with all of ABB’s teams. This included ABB’s roadmap for mergers and acquisitions and the formation of ABB’s technology venture arm. In this role, he strengthened ABB’s operational excellence and procurement processes, laying the groundwork for the cost savings program which has been executed over the past few years of global economic crisis.

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead ABB and serve our customers, building on Joe’s success,” said Spiesshofer. “I am looking forward to keep working with all my colleagues in the Executive Committee and the entire ABB team. Together, we will continue to drive profitable growth and relentless execution for the company.”

Before joining ABB, Spiesshofer spent three years at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and 11 years at A.T. Kearney management consultants, where he built successful consulting businesses in industries including oil and gas, utilities, telecoms and automotive, in Europe, Asia and the Americas. He has a master’s degree in Business Administration and Engineering, and a PhD in Economics, both from the University of Stuttgart, Germany.

Invensys acquires SmartGlance

Invensys, descibed as “a focused supplier of state-of-the-art industrial software, systems and control equipment to the world’s major industries”, has acquired the SmartGlance mobile reporting product from Sarla Analytics, a privately held company headquartered in Barrington, Rhode Island in the USA.

Founded in 2010, Sarla Analytics is part of the Sarla Group of software companies. The Sarla Analytics mission is to leverage the power of enterprise mobility to increase productivity, reduce costs and streamline operations. SmartGlance, the industrial mobile reporting business app, delivers secure, on-demand access to rich, graphical reports from any operations data source via mobile devices, allowing industrial personnel to make smarter, faster decisions from anywhere, at any time and on any device.

“Acquiring this technology accelerates our delivery of solutions that leverage the power of mobile devices and managed systems via cloud and SaaS models,” said Rob McGreevy, vice president of platform and applications software Solutions at Invensys. “It strengthens our current leadership position in mobile industrial data reporting and reinforces our commitment to deliver access to information, analytics and KPIs to a user’s device of choice.”

SmartGlance provides connectors for accessing data from different manufacturing sources, including both Invensys and non-Invensys systems. This offers Invensys customers real-time access to important business data alerts and notifications. It also allows them to view that information in a native mobile application optimized for any mobile device, such as smart phones and tablets. SmartGlance supports quick and more accurate decisions, enabling the ability to take action, share data and collaborate with colleagues. Additionally, it permits the ability to push data from virtually any data source, including popular process historians and any SQL database. All this, with a very fast and simple implementation, small install footprint and no additional hardware required.

“Many of our customers are already using SmartGlance to securely view or push their real-time and historical plant-wide data to mobile devices,” McGreevy said. “With access to the right information at the right time, our ‘mobile’ or remote user base is able to assign resources and resolve issues quickly. Our customers span more than 750 registered devices used across several industries, including food and beverage, dairy, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, life sciences, mining, utilities and alternative energy markets, such as wind and solar power.”

As part of the acquisition, the SmartGlance product will become part of the Invensys Wonderware portfolio of software product offerings.

Pulsar reach a milestone in Sludge

Pulsar Process Measurement are best known for their non-contacting ultrasonic range of products, but as Sales Director Keith Flint is keen to point out, ‘At heart, Pulsar is a company of acoustic engineers, and the algorithms and analysis tools that we have developed over the last fifteen years or so are now being applied across quite a wide family of products’.

A case in point is Pulsar’s Sludge Finder 2, their well-established and popular Sludge Interface Monitor. Sludge Finder uses a self-cleaning transducer to bounce a sonar signal from the interface layers throughout sludge settlement plant, intelligently analyzing the signal to provide a profile of the sludge levels, including RAS and FLOC measurement from a single transducer.

Keith Flint made the point: ‘There is no mystery to why Sludge Finder 2 has become so widely used, it’s simply because it works so reliably.’

Proof of the success of the Sludge Finder has been the framework agreements written in the product’s favour, and international sales across the globe. This month has seen a significant milestone, with an order placed for the 750th Sludge Finder, a real indication of how well trusted the product has become.

Emerson $67m contracts on Gorgon LNG

Emerson Process Management has been awarded contracts by Chevron Australia Pty, valued at US $67 million, to provide control valves and valve actuators to help ensure the efficient and safe flow of natural gas at the Gorgon Project, one of the world’s largest natural gas projects. Emerson Process Management is providing the majority of the control and shutdown valves for this natural gas project.

Emerson valve and valve automation technologies provide the ability to accurately manage the production of gas, resulting in tighter and more accurate control that increases overall system efficiency and safety, and helps ensure environmental compliance. Fisher FieldVue digital valve controllers provide automated configuration as well as improved control valve calibration and tuning. Their built-in diagnostics enable technicians to remotely monitor the health of a valve assembly and can alert them to pending issues before they affect operations.

“Our customers are undertaking increasingly larger and more complex projects in challenging on-shore and off-shore sites, where they require sophisticated, reliable gas flow solutions,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “Prior to installation, we were able to verify the performance of highly critical valves that will be used at Gorgon, through real-world flow testing at the Emerson Innovation Center at the Fisher plant in Marshalltown, Iowa, USA – the largest flow facility in the world capable of providing this kind of reliability testing.”

The contracts include over 1000 control valves, valve controllers and actuators for applications ranging from inlet gas processing, acid gas removal, liquefaction and fractionation, to anti-surge and cryogenic. The wide scope of applications is matched by various valve materials, to withstand harsh conditions, extreme changes in pressure, and corrosive environments. Severe service conditions within many of the processes are met by a high number of Fisher noise reduction and anti-cavitation trims.

Additionally, Emerson Roxar subsea wet gas meters will be used to provide real-time, accurate measurements of hydrocarbon flow rates and water production.

In addition to support from Emerson Process Management engineering, development and manufacturing facilities in Australia, Emerson is working with its local business partner of 20 years, Perth-based Western Process Controls, to provide training that will help the Gorgon Project instrument and valve technicians, ensure smooth commissioning and maintenance best practices.

Who is the next automation and control thought leader?

The following was the lead article in the INSIDER Newsletter for June 2013, written as a result of the recent news from ABB that their ceo Joe Hogan and their chief technology officer are both to leave the company.

The days of the technology based entrepreneur who starts a major automation business are long gone*. But seemingly the days of the company ceo that came from the same mould seem to be fading, as the larger businesses maybe move towards faster turnover of their ceo post, and introduces a stronger finance bias. Over the last five years or so there have been notable automation leaders as chief executives, who combined the financial knowledge with great presentation skills, and a willingness to explain their business insights and drivers. After all, that is what makes the best texts for the INSIDER. Who do we look to now for such leadership?

So who are the other leaders?

So where are we with the other automation thought leaders that have driven the industry forwards over the last five years – or longer – and have now moved on? Some of those discussed in this issue are detailed below.

For ABB, there was Joe Hogan from 2008, and he was supported by an equally impressive chief technology officer, or cto, in Peter Terwiesch, from 2005 to 2011, and now heads up ABB in Germany as the ceo there. ABB is based in Switzerland.

The Invensys Group

In Invensys there was Sudipta Bhattacharya, who joined Invensys Operations Management from SAP, coming in as ceo in 2007, and left in September 2012. In his time his Invensys Group boss had the twin responsibilities of Invensys Rail and IOM, so maybe did not take the centre stage as much as has happened in the last year, when Group ceo Wayne Edmunds has taken most of the limelight, and the IOM ceo of the last 18 months, Mike Caliel, has not had much opportunity to step forward. Edmunds is a pure financier in his approach, and as reported this month, he is looking to simplify the group presentations. Hopefully there will be an opportunity for Caliel to come forward therefore, and reclaim some of the ground he had taken as an automation leader in his first stint with Invensys, from 1993 to 2006, when he ended up as ceo of Invensys Process Systems.

The equivalent at IOM of a cto would seem to be Dr Peter Martin, who started there with Foxboro marketing in 1996 and now leads what is best described maybe as their overall automation business software consultancy operations. IOM call him vp of ‘Business Value Solutions’: he authored the 2011 capital market day presentations, and it will be interesting next month to report on the 2013 version.

Invensys is a UK Group, financed and led from London: but IOM and Mike Caliel are based in Houston.

Honeywell Process Solutions

Norm Gilsdorf, after four years with Honeywell UOP, took over first as vp and gm for HPS in Europe in 2008, and then had three years in charge of HPS worldwide. He moved on a year ago to become the president of HPS high growth regional business in Russia and the Middle East area, when Darius Adamczyk from another Honeywell business came in to run HPS.

HPS is a USA-centric business, which made it interesting that Gilsdorf remained based in the UK offices, and externally showed no problem as a result. Significantly one of the questions Adamczyk chose to answer on a recent webinar was one that enquired how him being based in the USA had changed the business! Hopefully Adamczyk will progress to more technologically challenging questions soon, and maybe bring some coherence to the whole diverse operation.

Within HPS, the cto, and leader of several adventurous technical presentations is Jason Urso in the USA, also supported ably by Jean-Marie Alliet, whose real title is the director of solutions consultants for the EMEA, based in Belgium. Notably Alliet has no problem branching out and covering hardware as well.

Who would be your thought leader?

The next batch of candidates to re-consider will be reviewed next month, but must include the recent changes in the leadership at E+H, Emerson Process Management and Yokogawa: but with nothing significant to report as yet on any changes at GE, Siemens, Metso and Rockwell Automation, who will be the thought leader to watch? Answers please, on a postcard, as they say!

There is one comment applicable to ABB, Invensys and Honeywell: their business is not just based on software (thank goodness) nor on DCS systems: there are many other aspects to an automation capability, mainly based on instrumentation technology, and these must be built into the structure – don’t forget the names that still exist, like Foxboro, Eurotherm, Eckardt for Invensys, Enraf, RMG for Honeywell: of course ABB have killed all their old business names off!

*Note: The days of the technology based entrepreneur who starts a good specialist business in the automation field are still with us however, there are examples all around like Dust Networks, Eric Byres and Tofino Security, and maybe even the original (now defunct). But usually these are snapped up by other larger companies when they become recognized, to develop them further or to kill them off. Recent such acquisitions might be seen as SpectraSensors, and the acquisition featured this month, RAE Systems.