AMEC looks to acquire Foster Wheeler

Subscribers to the INSIDER newsletter will have read about the abortive bid by AMEC for the Kentz corporation in August this year, reported in the September newsletter, page 6. Now in the UK’s Times newspaper, it is reported that AMEC has turned its attention to the possible acquisition of US based Foster Wheeler! 

GB based AMEC commented in August that it was keen to expand in the oil and gas sector, so Foster Wheeler obviously meets that requirement. 

If the deal goes ahead, it could create an overall energy services group worth $8 billion. AMEC advisors are Goldman Sachs.
 
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E+H acquires Kaiser Optical Systems

Endress+Hauser is to acquire the US company Kaiser Optical Systems. Regulatory authorities in the United States have approved that the former parent company, Rockwell Collins, is to complete the transaction initially announced in August. The acquisition is effective from 22 November 2013.

Kaiser Optical Systems is a world leader in spectrographic instrumentation and applied holographic technology. Principal products include Raman sensors and instrumentation, advanced holographic components for spectroscopy, telecommunications, astronomy and ultra-fast sciences, and display systems for aircraft.

The company employs a staff of 76 in its headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Seven employees in an office in Lyon, France, coordinate European sales activities. The terms of the transaction will not be disclosed.

Technology with high value

The Kaiser Optical Systems core competencies are in the field of Raman spectroscopy. This technology is based on the interaction of an inclined beam of light with the material analyzed: single photons transmit energy on molecules, and reciprocally also molecules transfer energy on single photons. The resulting light diffusion creates a specific pattern for every material – comparable to a fingerprint – and thus provides information on composition and consistency.

Kaiser Optical analyzers work fast, reliably and precisely and can also be used on inline processes. “That’s the big potential of advanced analytics,” said Klaus Endress, CEO of the Endress+Hauser Group, emphasizing the strategic dimension of the acquisition. “Raman technology can replace laborious sample-taking and consequent laboratory analysis, enabling customers to continuously control quality and optimize their processes.”

Rockwell Collins

Rockwell Collins Inc is a pioneer in the development and deployment of innovative communication and aviation electronic solutions for both commercial and government applications. The expertise in flight deck avionics, cabin electronics, mission communications, information management, and simulation and training is delivered by approximately 19,000 employees, and a global service and support network that crosses 27 countries.

Enter DynAMo man

The Honeywell User Group meeting held in Nice this month for customers across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region was in fact the 25th anniversary of this annual get-together, and as usual featured a review of their current developments from both Darius Adamczyk, the president and ceo of Honeywell Process Solutions, and from Jason Urso, his chief technical officer. Several new product launches were featured, in various different ways! For more information on that you need to consult the INSIDER Newsletter for November, being dispatched today, which carries an extensive report.

But perhaps following the tradition established by Jason Urso with his “Starship Enterprise Orion” rôle plays, there was a brief glimpse of a new character at the end of his presentation, “DynAMo man”. On December 4 HPS will launch a new suite of workflow processes and procedures to assist operators of process plants, in order to increase plant reliability and uptime, by supporting the operators in their decision making – since process upsets are reported to be caused 42% of the time by operator error or incorrect actions, after alarms are raised.

DynAMo man was much in evidence at the HUG meeting in Nice, in his hunky “Spiderman” type uniform, and may possibly be the image that is attached to helpful hints on the operator screens in the near future. In the picture below DynAMo man is entering into the spirit of the HUG too, with your long suffering Editor, and also Liliana Pereira, from HPS Advanced Solutions marketing communications, the force behind DynAMo man’s Alarm Suite.

Capt Dynamo

It’s a hard life doing all this reporting and things.

ABB opens new service centre in Aberdeen

On Monday 18 September, Fergus Ewing, Scottish Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism officially opens ABB’s new facility in Aberdeen, Scotland following a GBP3.5m upgrade. The Altens site is the headquarters for the power and automation technology company’s UK service businesses, bringing together its oil & gas and marine services, spare parts and logistics, turbocharging and consulting activities.

The move to the 27,000 sqft bespoke facility, from the city centre’s Commerce Street, accommodates an advanced learning centre for employees and customers, an automation build and test staging area and upgraded turbocharger workshop. The site also houses ABB’s consulting services team.  Consulting helps customers to improve the performance of their total operation in the areas of process safety, integrity management and reliability. Typical services include asset life extension, decommissioning, process safety risk assessment and management, alarm management, technical training and specialist technical engineering.

Increased capacity has enabled a 30% growth in staffing levels. This provides the resources to achieve ABB’s goal to penetrate its own installed base and grow revenues from around 17 to 25% of group revenues by 2015. ABB in Aberdeen now has 140 employees comprising 100 engineers, consultants (on- and off-shore) and support staff. It also continues to grow its graduate programme, developing its engineers for the future. The company will continue to recruit engineers in 2014.

Mike Crawford, Regional Service Manager, Northern Europe and head of the Aberdeen facility says: “We are now building the capacity and technology to support our customer base with advanced services across a more comprehensive portfolio of local services. This enables us to deliver more and new value to our customers, recognising the different requirements for supporting new and ageing assets.”

The learning centre supports the development of the skills required now and into the future to operate, maintain and extend the life of automation systems. The centre includes ergonomically designed interactive control room screens which aim to improve the safety and efficiency of operators by providing detailed and timely plant information. The centre also focuses on specific technologies such as instrumentation, electrical equipment including motors, drives, intelligent switchgear and advanced protection systems. ABB’s D3 collaboration desk, also in the learning centre, allows users to see real-time process data and key performance indicators, alongside other documents from various sources. Demonstrations running on the desk illustrate how the different functions in an operating company can collaborate to improve performance or manage process excursions or incidents. The desk shows how the wide range of ABB’s offerings are brought together to help its customers improve their operating effectiveness.

ABB’s staging area continues to grow and now houses several scale replicas of the actual control and safety systems in use on specific customer assets. This allows ABB to perform thorough testing of software and its integrity prior to its release to site. This provides the confidence that design specifications and safety standards have been met thus reducing the work required to install and commission onshore. The facility also enhances preparation for planned offshore visits and improves the level of operational support provided from base to facilitate technical troubleshooting and maintenance.

“Having our operations close to the majority of clients, helps ABB engage more efficiently with its customers to ensure our portfolio of services from the supporting units meet their current and future needs,” explains Crawford. “The wide variety of products and technology installed offshore and the difficulty in gaining access for training purposes requires us to train our engineers in a controlled environment. The staging and learning facilities are ideally suited for this purpose and helps strengthen the resource pool of competent and highly skilled engineers to better serve the customer base.”

Some 80% of the turbocharger population, in the supply and offshore specialist vessels, have ABB turbochargers. To support the growing demand and the new advanced turbochargers, ABB has also expanded the capacity of its turbocharger workshop. The 5,800 sqft turbocharger workshop now accommodates the most advanced testing and repair facilities to support a highly responsive service to ABB customers.

The site also provides a third location for ABB’s consulting services, following on from Billingham and Daresbury. Consulting specializes in customer process improvement, aging and life extension, alarm handling and functional safety management.

Left to Right, Mike Crawford of ABB, Fergus Ewing MSP, Ian Rennie and Bill McLaughlin of ABB

Left to Right, Mike Crawford of ABB, Fergus Ewing MSP, Ian Rennie and Bill McLaughlin of ABB

Safety ‘awards’ by exida

None of the many press releases issued by seemingly reputable automation and instrumentation suppliers that relate to awards made by readers of various magazines will ever be found on this website. Nor will the others, issued regularly for various “achievements”, usually awarded by market research companies. These are all tainted with commercial negotiations and bias, and occasionally actually linked to cash transactions.

But where does exida rank in this spectrum of organizations that announce awards for technical excellence? Why would a safety consultancy want to make an award at all? Surely it might make potential clients believe that they would only ever recommend one safety system? This is very difficult to understand. But Emerson, not exida, is now telling us that exida has singled out their system for an award.

The text of the Emerson release says (in italics):

“Emerson’s DeltaV safety instrumented system (SIS) has been granted the 2013 Safety Award by exida, the global leader in functional safety and cybersecurity certification for the process industries. exida recognized the DeltaV safety instrumented system with its safety award for the logic solvers category, citing the system’s Electronic Marshalling and CHARMs technologies. 

“exida recognises the importance of excellence in functional safety,” said William Goble, exida principal partner. “Through extensive analysis of the nominated products, we believe DeltaV SIS with Electronic Marshalling has the ability to play a key role in the continuous journey of making the world a safer place.”

Founded in 1999 and with offices around the world, exida is a key player in testing and assessing automation safety products. The agency is a leading certification body and serves on the international committees that write safety standards.

Goble noted that exida is in a unique position to review safety products from many different manufacturers. The safety award gives the agency an opportunity to recognize products that stand out in meeting functional safety standards. 

“The DeltaV SIS architecture is what I would call a hybrid,” said Goble. “It combines the best attributes of many different architectures into one. Also, its flexible design gives users all the different I/O types they need, and allows them to pick levels of redundancy and safety so they can make trade-offs between costs and the essential parameters of availability and safety.” 

Goble said cyber security is a big consideration – noting it was not even a topic of discussion in safety systems just a few years ago. “It’s something a lot of people are now having trouble retrofitting,” Goble said. “The DeltaV SIS with Electronic Marshalling and CHARMs technology was built with security as an important part of the design.” 

“It’s gratifying to receive this recognition from the experts,” said Emerson process systems and solutions president Jim Nyquist, who accepted the award. “It affirms that we accomplished our goal of reducing complexity while meeting or exceeding the stringent functional requirements of systems safety.”

Two thoughts come to mind, reading the text and seeing the Emerson explanation of what the exida business consultancy does in terms of functional safety. First, if the award is in the logic solver category, how does this relate to the Electronic Marshalling and CHARMS – surely this just routes the inputs and outputs of the wiring to the logic solver. Secondly, where Mr Goble discusses cyber-security, we can accept that cyber security is a big consideration in discussions about safety systems currently: but has exida now developed sufficiently to be a testing and expertise centre in cyber security aspects as well?  Undoubtedly cyber-security is mentioned on their own website introduction. His later statement about DeltaV SIS being built with security as an important part of the design, one assumes is talking about cyber-security, since a safety system by definition has security as a major feature: so how is this relevant to the logic solver award to DeltaV SIS?

I look forward to anyone contributing views in relation to this sort of “award”.

Nick Denbow

Siemens trainees run ‘Junior Factory’ in UK

Siemens is opening the first Junior Factory for apprentices at its award winning facility in Congleton, launching during the Government’s flagship ‘Tomorrows Engineers Week’.  The facility was opened by UK and Ireland Chief Executive Roland Aurich on the 7th of November and will act as a ‘small factory within a factory’ run by a mixture of commercial and technical apprentices aged 16 to 21.

The apprentices will take on key leadership roles and will be responsible for the full breadth of the factory’s progress. The initiative will be open to all apprentices and graduates as part of Siemens’ dedicated plans to train young people not just in the critical field of engineering but also in real business management.

The Junior Factory will manufacture a sub-assembly for supply into production, which were previously imported and will represent a re-shoring of domestic manufacturing. The team will be responsible for sourcing and supply chain management, production of sub-assemblies, quality management, budgeting and transfer pricing alongside performance management.

Roland Aurich, CEO of Siemens UK and Ireland said: “This is a really innovative project, and the aims are very clear – let’s train up our young apprentices for the long term challenges they will face in their careers whilst fostering a culture of innovation, autonomy and crucially – entrepreneurship. We need to make a bold statement in Siemens and across industry – be an engineering apprentice and you can go from the shop floor to the top floor and schemes like this help young people understand how an engineering apprenticeship can lead to a rewarding career.”

Siemens has appointed a head of the Junior Factory and the team has written a business case about how they see the factory working, which was presented to the senior management board earlier in the year. Initially the Junior Factory will be responsible for the complete supply chain for assembly of fans for use within Siemens G120C drives and the team will have complete ownership for the value chain: planning, sourcing, assembly and delivery of finished product to the line.

Richard Lawton an apprentice who is acting as the head of the Junior Factory said: “I never thought that as part of an apprenticeship I would be given the opportunity to take on this level of responsibility – not just training and learning but actually running the facility as a business. I am really looking forward to working with the team members and making the project a success over the coming year, and learning about how running a full assembly line works in practice.”

The apprentices will also be responsible for resourcing the factory and ensuring that customer demands are fulfilled in the most cost effective way. Appropriate quality checks should be implemented within the process to ensure that “quality” products are delivered. The team will also be responsible for the creation of an annual budget for the factory. This will include a presentation to the senior management team for approval of the costs and a productivity challenge will be given to the Junior Factory on an annual basis.

Mathew Hancock MP, Minister for Skills at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said: This ground-breaking project is a great opportunity for tomorrow’s engineers to get the training and experience they need to establish a successful career. The Junior Factory demonstrates the great contribution apprentices can make to businesses and is a fantastic example of how we can innovate to plug skills gaps and help the UK get ahead in the global race.”

Honeywell to upgrade petrochemical plants in China

Honeywell  has been selected by the Sinopec Maoming Company to provide business management and automation technology that will rejuvenate and improve the operational performance of the aging Sinopec petrochemical plants in Guangdong Province, China.

Honeywell’s Profit Suite R400 process optimization software will be deployed at two of the Maoming Company ethylene-cracking facilities, helping to improve plant performance by increasing energy efficiency, improving flexibility of its operations, and maximizing the plants’ yield of high-value products. The plants have been in operation for more than 50 (fifty) years and currently produce 1 million tons of petrochemicals a year.

“Although new petrochemical plants are being built, globally the petrochemical industry is a mature industry, with many plants having been in operation for decades,” said Aldous Wong, vice president and general manager for Honeywell Process Solutions, China. “Honeywell’s process optimization solutions can breathe new life into these aging plants, boosting profitability by increasing throughput and yields, improving product quality, and reducing costs.”

Ethylene is an important building block for petrochemicals and is primarily used in the manufacture of polyethylene, which, in turn, goes into a wide range of products, such as packaging, detergents, synthetic lubricants and synthetic rubber. In China, about 70 percent of its polyethylene is used in product packaging.

“We want to establish this project as a benchmark for other similar facilities within the Sinopec Group,” said He Lijian, deputy chief engineer, Sinopec Maoming Company. “Using this Honeywell solution, Maoming Company is expecting an increase in production that would improve our profitability by more than $6 million per year. Honeywell’s experience in advanced process control and support capabilities for a number of industrial projects in China helped us to decide to choose them as one of our trusted vendors.”

Profit Suite R400 is the most comprehensive release of Honeywell’s Advanced Process Control (APC) and Optimization technology portfolio, with the ability to integrate with many different distributed control systems (DCS) by multiple manufacturers, as well as legacy systems.

With an installed base of more than 30,000 control systems, Honeywell technology runs mission-critical applications in refineries, chemical plants, pulp and paper mills, pipelines, power plants and other industrial facilities worldwide.