The Yokogawa User Group conference in Budapest

The “User Group” conferences, which provide a meeting place for automation and control managers and engineers from different companies and industries to meet and share their operational experience, started in the USA, and have blossomed in Europe in the last few years. Usually hosted by a major supplier, they encourage their clients to come together in a way that is more cost effective, for them, than a standard commercial exhibition and conference. But they always gather their normal specialist sub-suppliers as partners, to also show and talk about their products, and explain how they can interface together to create a total plant system, in the mini-exhibition running alongside meal and coffee breaks.

IMG_20160523_214347932   DSCN3364

The conference dinner was held in the Hungarian National Gallery, by the side of the Danube 

The Yokogawa European User Group meeting took place this May in Budapest. It attracted around 200 engineers and interested editors from all around Europe: from Spain to Norway, from the UK to Turkey, to hear about recent new applications, and the latest product developments.

 

“Transformation 2017” is the current Yokogawa business plan, covering the three years from 2015-17: the year 2015 also happened to be the 100th year since the foundation of the company. So their anniversary year plan focuses on customer interfacing and “Co-Innovation”, which was the main conference theme for the presentations.

Yokogawa appears to have developed a different approach recently, and have become keen to bring in ideas, products and even make acquisitions to broaden their expertise base. They did this previously, but there is a greater emphasis now, it seems. They are also the ISA100 wireless sensor technology leader, amongst the main automation companies, and are helping more small sensor manufacturers to develop this capability.

Wireless sensors to ISA100

Yokogawa have produced wireless versions of their own temperature and pressure transmitters, as you would expect, plus have the routers and base stations necessary to complete the site system. More interesting, they have developed a wireless module, which can be integrated with other (third party supplier) sensors, to create a new wireless measurement sensor. They also have a battery pack that can be exchanged in a hazardous area, when needed, often only after ten years, but maybe after two years if that battery also powers a third party sensor and needs a fast data response time.

In a presentation about a Richter Gedeon Group pharmaceutical plant in Romania, Yokogawa described a wireless sensor installation that monitored the groundwater levels around the site, in 20 wells over an area 1500m x 600m, with some wells actually outside the factory fence. The historic weekly manual monitoring was not felt to be sufficiently frequent, and current environmental standards required an improvement, to at least 4 times a day. Standard HART submersible pressure sensors were used for the level measurement, powered by the battery pack in the Yokogawa wireless module, which communicated digitally with the sensors and then sent the data over ISA100 links. This provides hourly reporting data from each well, and allows the sensor to be put into sleep mode between readings.

The large area of the site, the topography and pipe bridges, provided a challenge for the wireless links. To achieve the transmission distances involved, Yokogawa planned the site layout with four of their independent wireless Routers, to gather data from the local sensors at the extreme distances, and then use the superior range achievable from the Router to the base station to deliver the data. This was then displayed by the pre-existing site ABB 800XA control system, to present any alarm data to the operators, and archive the records.

The IIOT and “Sushi Sensors”

Yokogawa say they have been working on the development of low-cost, small, battery operated wireless sensors, perhaps aptly named as “Sushi Sensors”, for ten years, as well as learning what associated data analysis is required to come to a meaningful conclusion about what the data – “Big Data” – is saying. So it was good to see their Sushi sensors on display, in different colours (as you might expect: blue, yellow/gold, and silver) – all with a little stub aerial. But turn these little bugs over and there was an empty shell – nothing there yet! Nevertheless, the work is going on, initially to produce temperature sensor systems: watch that space.

On other stands the GasSecure GS01 hydrocarbon gas detector was on show, which is another ISA100 wireless sensor from Dräger, marketed by Yokogawa for LNG and oil and gas facilities.

STAPS

Spirax Sarco STAPS

Next, Spirax Sarco presented their latest wireless sensor, used for monitoring steam traps on petrochemical plants. Available only recently, from March 2016, this sensor uses the standard ISA100 system, and is called STAPS (which stands for Spirax Total Acoustic Performance Solutions). The acoustic sensing uses a PZT sensor clamped to the outside of the steam line, alongside the trap, and can indicate when the trap is blocked, and when it has failed open, and is leaking live steam. Not only does the STAPS sensor calculate and transmit the rate of steam loss, so the operator can assess the cost and therefore the urgency needed to make a repair, it can analyse the actual type of trap failure. This is done within the sensor electronics, by measuring the emitted acoustic signatures in multiple bands between 5 and 40kHz, to suggest whether the problem is dirt, or a sticky valve, or a damaged valve seat. The STAPS sensor is available intrinsically safe, for petrochemical applications: Spirax previously offered a different wireless sensor for standard industrial plants and boiler rooms, which used a Zigbee communications link.

Customer software and Co-Innovation

There have been two Yokogawa acquisitions in the field of ‘management’ software, which are focused on making the computer based control systems supplied by Yokogawa for plant and process control provide the overview data required by management, improving the connectivity between plant and office, and optimising business operations. First they acquired Industrial Evolution Inc, in January 2016, who provide cloud-based plant data sharing services, or DaaS (Data-as-a-Service). Yokogawa renamed this business Industrial Knowledge: this service has been used in a broad variety of applications such as the sharing of data on oil and gas field operations among authorized users at multiple companies, and the real-time sharing of data with investors on facilities that are operated by third parties. For example when an oilfield is jointly owned by three oil companies, but only one of them acts as the main operator.

Then in April Yokogawa acquired KBC Technologies, a successful provider of software and consultancy focused on achieving operational excellence and improving profitability for both the upstream (oil production) and downstream (oil refineries and petrochemicals production) segments – advanced software for process optimisation and simulation. Originating with three process engineers who started life at the Exxon Fawley refinery, KBC also now incorporates the original Honeywell HPS reactor technology expertise, acquired in 1998, and the chemicals processing technology developed at Infochem, acquired in 2012.

Combining KBC and Industrial Evolution into their Industrial Knowledge business, Yokogawa is expanding its advanced solutions service business by engaging with its customers in a co-innovation process, to add value, using company-wide optimisation of the business operations.

Co-innovation with the specialists

Oil fiscal metering using specialist skids at oil tanker batch shipping terminals is a major application area for Coriolis meters. Yokogawa have just upgraded their Coriolis product line to improve their performance, using modern electronics and sensor technology. The pressure drop for a given flow rate has been greatly reduced, and on-site accuracy enhanced to meet the laboratory tested specifications. Also tube condition monitoring enables on-site checks to confirm that the process conditions have not affected the measurement tubes.

mf_header_skid

M+F skids in use at a tanker terminal

Unlike other Coriolis suppliers, Yokogawa do not offer an in-house fiscal metering skid production facility, but rely on the knowledge of their specialist customers to achieve the total package offer. So via their chosen skid supplier customer, M+F Technologies of Hamburg, they have supplied meters for terminal management systems, tank truck loading systems, aircraft and ship supply across the world. The M+F MFX4 batch flow computer has been supplied for blending, leak detection and terminal operations in Latin America, Russia, EU, and Cuba. The latest Yokogawa Coriolis meters, the TI product range, has enabled M+F to reduce the size of the gas separators involved, reducing the skid footprint, and also M+F have reduced the maintenance costs associated. Using TCP/IP communications the system has 24/7 remote maintenance available, essential for 24 hour terminal operations.

Conclusion

The two or three conference days crammed in a lot more than was described above: the delegate just chooses the topics of major interest on his plant. Further announcements showed that Yokogawa is to now construct complete Analyser house systems in Spain, in addition to their existing facilities in Singapore and USA, to serve the European market primarily. Here they act as the site systems supplier, perhaps in contrast to their approach to fiscal metering described above. Yokogawa are also collaborating with Cisco Systems over the Shell SecurePlant initiative, which is to be rolled out over 50 Shell plants, and have developed an interesting collaboration with StatOil, to use wireless sensors to monitor the on-site sound noise level on offshore oil platforms, to ensure personnel safety and monitoring.

YokogawaASICenterEurope_01 (1)

An Analyser house supplied by Yokogawa

The next Yokogawa User Group meeting will be in South Africa in October, for three days in Johannesburg, which should be well worth attending.

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Radio system for simple temperature sensors

Signatrol, the Tewkesbury (UK) based manufacturer of the SpyDaq wireless temperature and humidity data logging system, has been awarded a UK patent for some of the communications aspects of SpYdaq, that make their system reliable, yet simple and cost efficient for pharma and food industry monitoring.

Initially designed to monitor and record temperature and humidity in buildings and storage areas, SpYdaq enables easy compliance with HACCP, EN12830, FDA CFR21 Part 11 and other relevant standards – where careful inviolate monitoring of storage conditions is required for quality reasons and to comply with legislation.

Unlike other similar systems on the market, SpYdaq features a unique high redundancy data package, specifically designed by Signatrol and it is this that has been recognized by the Patents Office and the award of UK Patent number 2479520.

SpYdaq monitors key parameters and transmits them, via a licence-free radio band, to a base station which then makes the data available via bespoke display and analysis software, using either an Intranet or the Internet. Using sensors linked by radio means that installation is quick and easy. The transmitters ‘sleep’ and then wake up at defined intervals to transmit the data. Using this method means that the transmitters are purely transmitters and not transceivers, thus reducing the cost and complexity of the system.

SpyDaq wireless from Signatrol

SpYdaq base station and sensors: this unit uses mobile phone links to the cloud for data monitoring and recording

A potential problem would arise with this approach when two or more transmitters try to transmit at the same time, and signals collide, resulting in loss of data. Signatrol has developed its unique communication system to ensure that in the event of a collision no data will be lost. In fact, for a fully populated system, the likelihood of losing a single reading is once in every 67 years.

Brian Turner, Managing Director Signatrol commented: “I am pleased that, although it has taken quite some time, our unique and innovative SpYdaq data logging system has finally been recognized with the grant of Patent. Many customers are already benefiting from this system and the patent will give added confidence to new adopters”

Indeed the Signatrol website quotes many well known names in the pharmaceutical and food industries as their customers: these are the major targets for Signatrol. Included are the NHS, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, GSK, and in foods Cadbury, Kellogg’s, Premier Foods and British Sugar.

The base stations can collect data from up to 16 transmitters, which can optionally also receive an external input signal, as well as monitor temperature and humidity. There is no info about the radio system employed, or the operating range, but various base stations offer local or intranet alarm set points, and there is also a unit that transmits data to the Signatrol cloud system for further recording and control actions. The base stations start at around GBP500, and the sensors at GBP130.

(c) ProcessingTalk.info

GE event: Improving Profitability with Big Data

In January, GE will launch a new Roadshow at three European centres: London, Paris and Milan. The event title is “Predict for Profit”- the GE Intelligent Platforms business will present their most advanced solutions to allow customers to transform the industrial internet information into reality, to gain valuable insights from the internet “Big Data” available from their processes and machines.

Big Data sets with no apparent value for the enterprise can be transformed into real Insights and information that customers can catch at the right time, and when the correct information is needed for decision makers.

The Industrial Internet is a key part of the GE strategy: it satisfies the need to combine machines, data, insights and people together in a connected infrastructure, a network that can be accessed by all operators regardless of the geographical position of devices and plants.

Every “intelligent” machine generates data that can be captured with the right devices and applications: these data can be represented through metrics along a time gap. The correct analysis and understanding of these data allow operators and managers to anticipate faults before they happen, and to plan the corrective action needed in advance.

The main benefit of predictive analysis is overall cost reduction, – or even cost avoidance – and profit increase, thanks to scheduled maintenance and leaner and more optimized operations.

‘Predict for Profit’ is an unmissable event for users that want to learn real application stories of companies that gained competitive advantage from the quantifiable production, profits and asset management improvements available using GE Solutions. It will be specific for professionals that want to know how to leverage the Big Data asset that each enterprise already owns.

Key insights are often hidden in the data storage, and can be extracted only with specific, user friendly and easy-to-implement Solutions. During these Roadshows, GE will show how to do this, and make Solutions Experts available from different geographical regions to show how it is possible to generate a real technology revolution in the industry.

The Roadshows will take half a day, finishing with a lunch, and will take place in: London on January 27th, Paris on January 28th, and Milan on January 29th. Apply for a place to attend at one of these events via:

http://www.ge-ip.com/ge-predict-profits

Rockwell Automation Acquires ESC Services

Rockwell Automation Inc has announced that it has purchased the assets of ESC Services Inc, a global hazardous energy control provider of lockout-tagout services and solutions.

Matt Fordenwalt, Rockwell Automation consulting business manager said  “ESC Services will enable Rockwell Automation customers to increase asset utilization and strengthen enterprise risk management, while adding safety to our growing portfolio of data-driven, cloud-enabled services.”

The unique ESC methodology utilizes Quick Response (QR) codes that can be scanned to obtain asset information and streamline compliance with both external regulations and internal safety policies. “The global use of lockout-tagout is expanding among multi-national corporations, and represents a great growth opportunity,” said Kelly Michalscheck, president, ESC Services. “This acquisition enables us to extend the ESC Services lockout-tagout procedures and ScanESC solutions to tens of thousands of additional OEM machines, delivering more value and unique offerings to the extensive global channels of Rockwell Automation.”

ESC Services, based in Franklin, Wisconsin, will be integrated into the Rockwell Automation Control Products & Solutions segment as part of its customer support and maintenance business unit. The ScanESC lockout-tagout technology and solutions will be on display at the upcoming Rockwell US Automation Fair, scheduled for November 19-20, in Anaheim.

Schneider Electric to acquire InStep Software

Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management, has entered into an agreement to acquire InStep Software, of Chicago, Illinois, a leading provider of real-time performance management and predictive asset analytics software and solutions. It is the latest acquisition from the company’s growing Software business and deepens its presence in the power and energy market. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2014, subject to customary regulatory and other closing conditions. Financial details were not disclosed.

Headquartered in Chicago, and founded in 1995, InStep provides two primary real-time performance management and predictive analytics software solutions: eDNA historian software collects, stores, analyzes, displays and reports on real-time operational and machinery sensor data: Prism predictive analytics software monitors the real-time health and performance of critical assets by using advanced pattern recognition and diagnostic techniques to identify subtle deviations in operating behavior that are often the early warning signs of imminent failures. The company also offers the EBS energy management software, which helps universities reduce their utility costs by analyzing energy consumption and streamlining the utility billing, cost allocation and reporting processes.

“Acquiring InStep Software is indicative of our commitment to delivering game-changing technology and powerful new solutions that improve efficiency, manage risk and drive higher levels of customer value,” said Ravi Gopinath, evp of the Schneider Electric Global Solutions software business. “They have a proven, experienced team who are dedicated to helping their customers achieve new levels of value, performance and profitability, and we are delighted to welcome them to Schneider Electric.”

eDNA software strongly complements the Schneider Electric Wonderware Historian software, and Prism software enhances their industry-leading information and asset management software offerings. Many of the world’s most successful companies use InStep software products to manage and analyze the rapidly growing amount of real-time operational and machinery asset-health-related information, but its solutions also complement the Schneider Electric offerings in several other industries, including food & beverage, consumer packaged goods, metals & mining, life sciences and water & wastewater.

“As with other recent acquisitions, InStep Software strengthens our portfolio in targeted industries and segments,” said Rob McGreevy, vice president, information, operations and asset management, Schneider Electric. “Their solutions give us additional, stronger data management and predictive analytics capabilities in the power and energy management industries, including power transmission and distribution, and will help us fulfill our strategic plans around Big Data, the Internet of Things and other emerging trends. With InStep, we strengthen our reputation as an industry game changer, and we are immediately more competitive in traditional process manufacturing, which fits with our overall strategy of improving our access to the utilities market in North America.”

“The emerging technologies for Big Data, analytics, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine and workforce mobility enable new means for improving process quality and equipment reliability while also reducing maintenance costs,” said Ralph Rio, research director at ARC Advisory Group. “InStep’s capabilities for predictive analytics leverage these technology trends and provide clear business value.  When combined with the strengths of Schneider Electric, we expect wider adoption in the power industry, and acceptance in a broader set of other industries where asset reliability and cost control are important.”

“Combined with Schneider Electric’s existing software offerings, our capabilities and expertise in the power and energy segment allow us to provide broader end-to-end visualization, asset management, operations and mobile solutions to our customers,” said John Kalanik, president of InStep Software. “Together, our software products will make it easier to bridge the IT-OT gap, empowering our customers to manage the increasing volume and complexity of their industrial operations. Our customers will continue to work with the same experienced InStep Software team, and we will continue to provide the same exceptional products and services they have come to expect and rely on. With Schneider Electric, our customers will be backed by a leading-edge global software company and our employees will have more opportunities to fulfill their potential for success.”

InStep Software will continue to be managed by its existing executive team, adding approximately 70 employees to the Schneider Electric operations in the United States.

Gary Mintchell, from the Schneider Electric bash (their Software Golbal Conference) in the US (Orlando), today additionally added to this release the following comments in his themanufacturingconnection.com blog:

“Schneider recently had announced a new extension to the SimSci product line. Now we have an acquisition. I take this to mean that Schneider has seriously decided to become a software company. I’ve never thought of the company as having a commitment to software.

Gopinath just used a word I used some time ago. Stability. These manufacturing software companies (Wonderware, SimSci, Avantis plus Foxboro, Triconex, etc.) under the instability of Invensys were threatened. Perhaps the stability of Schneider Electric will help these grow and prosper.”

– an interesting observation!

Enterprise asset management

Tree swing with 3 seatsAs marketing requested it


Tree swing with 3 supports As sales ordered it


Tree swing fastened to trunk As engineering designed it


Tree swing in the trunk As we manufactured it


Tree swing suspended in missing trunk As field service installed it


Tree swing made of a tire What the customer wanted

EAM: A societal oxymoron – an article by  Harry H Kohal, vp of business development for Eagle Technology Inc

OK, I had never heard of them either, but its a very nice article:

Enterprise asset management (EAM) is a way of thinking, a discipline, and ultimately a culture that increases equipment life and production uptime. One of the dichotomies we face when we talk about asset life is the conflict between quality and reliability in the corporate world, and disposability in everyday life. When our new washing machine was delivered from Best Buy, the delivery person said “This is a nice washing machine, but don’t expect it to last like your old one did.” That old machine washed for four daughters, a mother-in-law, dogs, and, of course, my wife and me. Of the 25+ years we had it, we had the repairman out once or twice, but we were assured that the repairs were worth making! Now I am not sure I will need a repairman, as my smartphone can transmit any issues directly to the factory—but is the machine made to last?

In the corporate world, the stakes are heightened. The money invested means the manufacturing equipment, custom machines, robots, and associated belts, conveyors, and gears have to be reliable, so we can optimize uptime and yield top dollar. Mining shovels, robotic welders, injection molding machines, and milling machines are assets sometimes costing hundreds of millions of dollars, and they must be reliable and dependable. However, modern manufacturers of this equipment try to balance between designing and building a machine that will last forever and meet customer needs, and that will have a limited life cycle. There is no future in building the machine that lasts forever. There is no doubt in my mind if we were willing to pay the price, a washing machine could be built to last the lifetime of a family. In fact some commercial washers could match that potential the way they are currently built, but most people do not buy commercial washers for their homes.

So what does this washing machine have to do with enterprise asset management?

The disposable mentality is a part of our current culture. We expect things to last for a while, and then we get rid of the asset and buy a new one. The products are not designed to be fixed, which would cost the manufacturer future sales. However, the same manufacturer producing these disposables needs the equipment it uses for making its products to last “forever.” We no longer take our televisions to a repair shop. When they stop working and are out of warranty, we go get a newer one with better energy-saving features and better picture quality. When it comes to businesses, that strategy is avoided like the plague, because the longer capital equipment is in service, the higher the return on investment. Maintenance people are asked to keep assets running, but are not provided properly installed EAM systems to be more productive. Is this cultural attitude, the disposability we live with every day, the reason management of many companies does not seem to relate to EAM? It may be a strong contributor. Another more prevalent underlying issue is the lack of skills and desire to do data analysis. This requires time, expertise, and management that is responsive to the news this data reveals.

Many maintenance programs have so-called EAM programs that consist of fixing assets when they break. The manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule has been lost over the years as staff changes, resulting in early failures and unexpected breakdowns. Management may have the attitude: “Preventive maintenance or predictive maintenance is something those really sophisticated companies do, not us.” “We don’t have the time or manpower for that” is a typical response from small to mid-tier companies; the businesses that need to manage their assets to remain competitive.

There is an industry-wide shortage of people who can do quality analysis and repair work. No one 18 to 22 years of age is going to college to become a repair person; it is not glamorous. Why is this occurring? For the very reason the washing machine is not going to last 20 to 30 years, the world views more and more things as disposable, and there is not a perceived need for someone to repair something. Even when your automobile gets to 100,000 miles and things start to break, the mechanic will tell you it is probably better to go buy a new car. After all, the old car did not have Bluetooth, USB, better widgets for driver comfort, and the new safety features! Who do you know who is not a NASCAR driver who dropped a new engine and transmission into his or her car in the past three years?

EAM defined

I recently presented the outlook of EAM and its effectiveness to a group of facility vice presidents, directors, and managers, and the forecast was fair to partly cloudy! The forecast was based on the diversity of implementations I have seen over the past decade. Depending on the experience of the responsible manager, when the solution was implemented, and who participated in the process, I have seen good to very poor implementations. While we may agree that software should be intuitive in its usage, most of the implementations that were failures did not fail because of the software. They failed because the implementer failed to define what success will look like!

When I got started in business, I came across a tree swing cartoon that aptly described how clearly we all have a point of view, and how that point of view affects what we see. Many variations of this tree swing cartoon exist online, but the actual creator remains anonymous. The cartoon is replicated in this article. It illustrates several different ways a swing is tied to the tree with captions describing how marketing requested it, how the sales team ordered it, how engineering designed it, how it was manufactured, and how it was installed. In the end, the final tree shows the swing exactly the way the customer wanted it.

If I ask each of you what a successful EAM implementation looks like, I believe we might end up with the same variations, so the question that faces us is “is anyone wrong?”

Several of the views above provide some functionality, but they have limits. One of the views provides no functionality, but the rider will not fall off the seat.


Communication means: “Saying” and “Hearing” have the same message.

Marketing request: Tree swing with 3 seats
What the user really wanted: Tree swing made of a tire

 

Team effort

Implementing an EAM solution is not a one person job. A team view is required to implement any EAM solution. You may disagree, and tell me you know everything there is to know about your business. I may agree when it comes to what assets need preventative maintenance (PM) and the steps for that PM, but I challenge you to identify the data your CFO or CEO will need five or 10 years from now to make solid business decisions. What data do you need to defend your organization from a lawsuit? Where are your documented processes and procedures to assure the quality of data in the system? How did you structure your nomenclature of assets to allow for additional assets, locations, companies, or customers?

You see, the decisions for an EAM solution extend beyond today, and potentially beyond your tenure in the job; it is a companywide solution. If you decide parts and the associated costs are not important, or the work done by contractors is not important, or labor/time capture is a waste of time, or closing work orders is not necessary as long as the work is done, you are heading down the path of failure!

Expert help

Some of you will read this and think, “Duh, of course you have to do those things!” However, the reality is I see people who only want to use the system for PM, who say they do not need training, and they will figure it out on their own!

Wake up! You may be smart, but so were the people who designed the tree swings. It is not about the software, it is about the identification of success.

Expert help and training are not just about the software, they are about putting the 5,000 pieces of the puzzle on the table, sorting them out, communicating to make sure everyone knows what the end picture looks like, planning the process to get the outline of the puzzle in place, and developing the plan to fill in the missing pieces. Unlike a puzzle that will reach completion, the EAM solution will never be done. New equipment will be added, old equipment decommissioned, and new technology, new regulations, and new processes adapted to refine and improve everyone’s view of the picture of success.

New players will come into the game, and the standard operating procedures (SOPs) have to be adhered to so data quality is consistent and valid. Periodically, time must be spent to assure that data is good. The other thing I learned early in my career is “garbage in, garbage out.” It still applies, and garbage data leads to many failures of EAM solutions, which is not the software vendor’s fault.

I can cite many examples where the company gave the EAM solution to the production manager, the position changed hands, and the new person felt a new solution was needed, throwing away potentially valuable information! Then in six or 10 months the CFO said, “we have to cut staff; maintenance expenses are too high.” Thus, the manager had no data to support the value of the work his staff had done, and what it will really cost the company to decrease staffing. You see the job is not just to fix things, keep them running, and manage people, it is all about managing data, a fact lost to many!

The real issue

I have pointed out several stumbling blocks to successful EAM solutions: culture, people, the lack of definition of success for the company, the need to look beyond today, and the changing role of the people responsible for EAM. The problem is complex, as the labor force becomes scarcer, as management misreads the value of EAM, as establishing a solution with SOPs and the enforcement of those standards is complicated. The changing regulatory landscape must be reflected in the detail of the work order tasks. It is not enough just to say “PM the machine.” In the end, there are many good EAM solutions, but the real test when looking for a solution is to ask yourself, is the vendor most interested in just selling the software, or does the vendor have the ability to help me map out the path to success? If you engage a vendor that has helped customers map their success plans, that vendor can help you, too. Why go it alone and risk failure? That cost is much higher than the cost of some training and consulting; it could save your career. The real issue is that the world is changing, and if you are not willing to admit you need to change, you are doomed, and your EAM solution will be doomed. After all, the outlook is fair to partly cloudy.

Regular news on Process Automation and Control topics is presented in the INSIDER monthly newsletter, supplied on subscription by Spitzer and Boyes LLC: Nick Denbow is the European correspondent for the INSIDER. For more information please consult http://www.iainsider.co.uk or http://www.spitzerandboyes.com

Invensys unveils Foxboro Evo

Invensys, a leading supplier of state-of-the-art industrial software, systems and control equipment to the world’s major industries, has unveiled its next-generation process automation system. With advanced tools and applications delivered across a high-speed, fault-tolerant and cyber-secure hardware platform, including the integration of the company’s world-leading Triconex safety system, the Foxboro Evo process automation system was designed to improve operational insight and integrity.

“The three most important ways a process automation vendor can help its customers secure their future is to protect the operational integrity of their plants, enhance the operational insight of its people and enable them to adapt easily and affordably to change,” said Gary Freburger, president of the Invensys systems business. “Our new Foxboro Evo system does that with unrivaled elegance. With more powerful processing capacity and other new, advanced applications, the system allows our customers to uncover new and hidden value from within their operations. This is another automation breakthrough from a company with a 100-year history of delivering innovative technology advancements. We’re excited about what this means for the industry and for our customers, and we look forward to continuing to help them safely achieve their short- and long-term business and operations goals.”

The Foxboro Evo process automation system has evolved directly from pioneering Foxboro I/A Series and Triconex technology, both entrusted to control and protect some of the world’s largest, most complex process facilities and known for their innovative, layered architecture. The system extends this approach through a component object-based platform, which can undergo major upgrades without halting operations.

“We needed to upgrade the vast majority of our DCS, but like most sites, we didn’t have the luxury of a site-wide shutdown to make a full change possible,” said Michael McKenzie, distributed control systems specialist for BP in Brisbane, Australia. “We were facing a substantial obsolescence issue, which we had ranked as a significant risk to ongoing operations, so we needed a solution that would allow us to upgrade components as we needed them, without sacrificing functionality or usability for operators. The new Invensys system allowed for a much easier upgrade of all components and will ensure that we can keep our system well away from obsolescence, so that we’re not required to perform any additional large-scale upgrades.”

Because users can upgrade at their own pace, the Foxboro Evo system delivers the lowest total cost of automation and highest return on assets. Additionally, its new applications improve the ability of plant personnel to contribute toward the success of the business by streamlining and contextualizing the information they need to make the right business decisions at the right time.

“As the pace of global business accelerates, automation technology becomes increasingly important in helping manufacturers focus on finding more value within their operations and automation assets,” said Chris Lyden, senior vice president for Invensys. “If users in the control room and in the field can better interpret the growing volume and complexity of the information they receive within the proper context of procedures and operational risk, then they will make more valuable contributions to the business. The Foxboro Evo system is loaded with new features that will help them do that, and it is structured to evolve with them as they and their companies change and grow.”

The Foxboro Evo system includes a new high-speed controller, field device management tools, a maintenance response center, an enterprise historian, 1-n redundancy and cyber security hardening. And because the company’s broad portfolio of roles-based engineering tools and productivity applications are integrated within it, the system provides superior visibility into historical, real-time and predictive operating information to help drive production efficiency.

  • Safety and security personnel will benefit from an innovative coupling of control and safety, which enables sharing of operational information while keeping the safety system functionally isolated, as well as state-of-the-art cyber security.
  • Engineers will be able to reduce their workloads, protect schedule integrity and reduce risks via more intuitive design and troubleshooting features, virtualization and other flexible technology.
  • Operators will gain a more complete, real-time view of plant activity via an updated high-performance, mobile accessible HMI.
  • Maintenance technicians will enjoy lower meantime between repairs via real-time device alerts and analytics, alarm triage, performance monitoring and other benefits.

Current Foxboro I/A Series DCS users can migrate to the Foxboro Evo system with little or no downtime, depending on which version they are running. Users of competing process automation systems, whose wiring terminations are still functional, can migrate to the Foxboro Evo system without ripping and replacing infrastructure, significantly reducing costs and downtime, just as they were able to do with the I/A Series system.