Yokogawa acquires RAP International

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has signed an agreement with UK-based RAP International (RAP) for Yokogawa to acquire the company and make RAP a wholly-owned subsidiary.

RAP specialises in providing digitised solutions that support risk assessment, management of the permit to work (PtW) process, and governance of control of work (CoW) for all plant maintenance activities.

Integrating RAP’s electronic risk assessment and PtW software solutions with Yokogawa’s real-time plant condition monitoring will improve safety assurance, reduce turnaround times, and support customers in providing enhanced protection for their people, assets, and the environment.

Manufacturing plants rely on scheduled and unscheduled maintenance activities to keep operating, ranging from daily rounds by field service personnel to the replacement of major pieces of equipment that can require shutdown of the entire plant for days or more. Control of work is the setting in place of a predetermined system for maintenance so that all necessary steps are carried out to prevent accidents and injury to people, damage to equipment, and unwarranted release of materials into the environment. However, in many plants these CoW systems are still paper-based or semi-automated through a combination of bespoke spreadsheets and document management systems, which can contribute to human error during operations.

Since 1994, RAP has been developing and implementing software solutions with integrated best practices that let customers digitise their CoW processes to make their maintenance activities safer, more accurate, and more efficient. RAPnet, its flagship product, is a comprehensive and easy to use electronic CoW system for automating maintenance processes: it is built around a large knowledge base incorporating decades of accumulated first-hand knowledge and experience. The digitised off-the-shelf solution includes standard modules for safety risk assessments, PtW management, management of change, interlocks and overrides, and isolation management. The system is complemented by consulting services as well as mobile and cloud-based functionality to fully deliver on the digital ambitions of customers. With support for 25 languages, it has already been implemented at over 150 locations in 30 countries in the oil, gas, chemical, utilities, and steel sectors.

Yokogawa provides industrial automation solutions to optimise productivity and efficiency whilst at the same time assuring plant safety and asset integrity. The company offers solutions that can monitor the health of plant equipment, and a digital platforms to support field maintenance. RAP solutions will further enhance the Yokogawa asset and safety assurance value proposition. Yokogawa will expand the availability of RAP consultancy services and road-tested systems through its global sales network, starting in Europe. The company will also carry out development work to integrate these into its existing technology portfolio and create a digital transformation platform that enables real-time monitoring of both plant assets and maintenance procedures.

Simon Rogers, head of the Yokogawa Advanced Solutions Division, commented: “Yokogawa believes that to create unique value for our customers it is important to integrate domain knowledge into the technology solutions we deliver. RAP systems are built around manufacturing industry best practices developed over the past 25 years, enabling customers to digitise and transform their maintenance safety processes, better protect their workforce, and improve operational efficiency. One of the strategies laid out in our Transformation 2020 mid-term business plan is to expand our OPEX business, so in line with that we look forward to making this outstanding addition to Yokogawa’s safety assurance portfolio available to our customers around the world as soon as possible.”

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Nokia Open Innovation Challenge

Selected start-ups working on solutions for the future of industrial automation are eligible to collaborate with Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs experts can  receive up to USD175,000 in financial support to help grow their businesses.

Technology start-ups with innovative and disruptive solutions for the emerging industrial automation era are invited to compete in this year’s Nokia Open Innovation Challenge (NOIC). Winners of this global competition will be provided with up to USD175k in financial assistance, and will have the opportunity to collaborate with experts from Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs to help grow their businesses by unleashing new levels of productivity for the industrial and public sectors.

This year’s NOIC specifically seeks out start-ups with disruptive ideas in industrial automation categories such as multi-robot collaboration, VR/AR driven human augmentation for industrial and enterprise use cases, digital personal assistants in enterprises, human machine / machine human communication technologies, edge computing, and artificial intelligence and related technologies.

NOIC Competition

Marcus Weldon, President of Nokia Bell Labs and Corporate CTO of Nokia, commented: “We believe that in the coming fourth industrial revolution, a convergence of operations technology (OT) and information and communication technology (ICT) will be the catalyst for wide scale automation in all industries and infrastructure – and our physical world as a whole. This will usher in a new era of productivity for many sectors of the economy. As we roll out end-to-end 5G around the world to deliver high performance local and wide area connectivity services, we are excited to connect with innovative start-ups, to allow them to come and collaborate with our experts, and for us to be able to support them to help grow their businesses and shape the future of industrial automation.”

The NOIC competition is organized in partnership with NGP Capital, a global venture capital firm, backed by Nokia.  NGP Capital has 14 years of expertise in evaluating, investing, and accelerating promising growth-stage companies from all around the world.

Bo Ilsoe, a partner at NGP Capital, commented: “We have met thousands of founders, invested in over 90 companies, and helped several all the way into outcomes like an IPO or merger/acquisition. In this NOIC competition, we will pay attention to great founding teams, who can demonstrate their deep domain expertise and prove they have the abilities to scale their business globally.”

Last year’s winner

The annual NOIC event offers the opportunity for pioneering start-up companies to showcase best-in-class products and solutions within the Industrial Automation domain. This year marks the seventh year of this global competition; the winner of the last similar competition was Spark Microsystems, a Montreal-based business that manufactures low power wireless transceiver chipsets designed for the Internet of Things (IoT).

For Spark Microsystems, CEO Fares Mubarak added: “We were honoured to win the NOIC 2018 competition amongst a stellar group of innovative companies. This recognition provided credible validation of our innovation from a technology leader and pioneer in our field, and had a significant positive impact on our employees, partners, customers and investors. We have already identified multiple collaboration opportunities within Nokia, with the help of the NOIC team, which is very timely as we are within a year of full production. We strongly encourage all start-ups to apply to NOIC, and expose their innovation ideas on one of technology’s highest stages.”

How to apply

Start-up businesses that want to enter need to submit their entries by June 30, 2019.  The NOIC competition’s website contains the complete rules and guidelines. Finalists will be brought to a mentoring event this autumn at Nokia Bell Labs in Murray Hill (NJ), where they will meet with leading innovators in Nokia and have access to lab resources to help refine the pitch for their innovations.

The selected finalists will then present their proposals to an international jury at an event located at Nokia’s global headquarters in Espoo, Finland. The selection jury will be chaired by Marcus Weldon and include business and technology leaders from across Nokia, Nokia Bell Labs and NGP Capital.

New Process Gas Analyser for CEM

A new hybrid laser based process gas analyser now introduced by Emerson Automation Solutions has the potential to reduce the cost and complexity of CEM systems. It requires no consumables and needs minimal maintenance.

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In the midst of increasing compliance demands for emissions monitoring and nitrogen oxide (NOx) measurement in industrial applications, companies now have the opportunity to move beyond costly consumables and complex gas sample treatment associated with ageing, legacy measurement systems. The new Rosemount CT4400 Continuous Gas Analyser from Emerson is the world’s first purpose-built Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) and Tunable Diode Laser (TDL) analyser designed to help plants reduce ownership costs and report emissions accurately in environmental monitoring applications. It gives simple measurements of all standard gases of interest, such as nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and oxygen (O2).

Optimised for cold and dry applications running at ambient pressure, the Rosemount CT4400 analyser offers the benefits of QCL/TDL technology, including high sensitivity, accuracy, improved stability, and low-drift performance in a configuration that allows fast, easy integration into existing plant infrastructure.

“Our customers are looking for a better way to measure emissions without the on-going high costs or need for frequent calibration and complex sample preparation that requires NOx converters or ozone generators,” said Paul Miller, managing director for Rosemount Quantum Cascade laser analysers, a part of Emerson Automation Solutions. “The Rosemount CT4400 Continuous Gas Analyser gives them an answer to their exact requirements in a configuration they can just plug into their existing systems and be off and running – at a lower cost than previously possible. The reduced complexity of the system over what most companies are used to, results in higher reliability and analyser availability with a lot less personnel time required.”

Because the system can hold up to four laser modules, it can measure up to seven application-specific gas components simultaneously, providing great flexibility in continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) applications. This simultaneous, multi-component analysis within a single analyser reduces the need for multiple analysers, and thus the cost.

At the heart of the Rosemount CT4400 is Emerson’s QCL technology, which detects and measures gas molecules in both the near- and mid-infrared wavelength range. The system employs a patented laser ‘chirp’ technique that enables the detection of individual gas species, free from the cross-interference effects of other gas components in the stream, making the measurement highly accurate and stable down to sub ppm concentrations. This high performance ensures operators meet increasingly demanding regulatory requirements, while real-time reporting provides critical insight into process performance.

Due to its purpose-built design, which produces enhanced performance at a lower cost, the Rosemount CT4400 Continuous Gas Analyser ensures reliable detection and monitoring of gases and allows operators to avoid costly regulatory fines or unexpected shutdowns.

More information on the Rosemount CT4400 Continuous Gas Analyser can be found at www.Emerson.com/RosemountCT4400.

Rosemount GWR complies with API 18.2 for Custody Transfer

High-performance version of Rosemount 3308 GWR Wireless Level Transmitter delivers enhanced accuracy that can be verified without opening the thief hatch, thereby increasing safety.

rosemount-3308-wireless-gwr-transmitter-2-singleEmerson has introduced a high-performance version of its Rosemount 3308 Guided Wave Radar (GWR) Wireless Level Transmitter that complies with the API 18.2 standard guidance for crude oil custody transfer from small lease tanks. The Rosemount 3308 is therefore said to to be the first standalone wireless radar level device to achieve this. The transmitter delivers enhanced accuracy – and also offers performance verification without having to open a tank’s thief hatch, thereby increasing safety.

“The API 18.2 standard places strict accuracy demands on level measurement instrumentation because any uncertainty during custody transfer can have significant financial implications,” said Christoffer Widahl, product management lead with the Emerson measurement and analytical business. “Measurement precision is essential in these applications, and the enhanced performance of the Rosemount 3308 delivers the high accuracy required to reduce uncertainty and comply with API 18.2.”

This new model uses an upgraded microwave module, which makes the Rosemount 3308 more tolerant to difficult process conditions and therefore able to deliver a more sensitive and repeatable measurement with high accuracy. API 18.2 requires level transmitters to operate with 1/8” (3mm) resolution and 3/16” (4.7mm) measurement accuracy, which the Rosemount 3308 achieves when set up in the new high-performance mode. This then enables it to achieve the installed accuracy of 1/4” (6.3mm) required to comply with API 18.2. In standard mode, the accuracy of the device has been improved to 1/5” (5mm).

Accuracy can be easily verified in just a few minutes using the Rosemount VeriCase mobile verification tool. This straightforward procedure does not require a tank’s thief hatch to be opened or any product to be transferred. [Opening the thief hatch can cause high concentrations of hydrocarbon gases and vapours to be released, putting worker health at risk, so eliminating this requirement is an important safety improvement.]

In addition to providing the accuracy required for custody transfer applications, the Rosemount 3308 also delivers reliability in both continuous surface level measurement and interface monitoring applications. It satisfies many applications across refineries, oil fields, offshore platforms and chemical plants, thereby providing a cost-effective standardised solution across an entire facility. The Rosemount 3308 is a top-mounted device that is virtually unaffected by changing process conditions such as density, conductivity, temperature and pressure, and because it does not have moving parts, no re-calibration is required, and maintenance is minimised. A wide range of process connections, probe styles and accessories ensure application flexibility.

For applications involving interfaces, the high accuracy of the Rosemount 3308 helps to maintain product separation by issuing an early warning if an interface is identified where there should be only one liquid. By eliminating this uncertainty and optimising product quality, the unit can help to produce significant savings for end users.

Wireless technology significantly reduces installation and configuration time for level measurement applications and can typically reduce costs by at least 30 percent compared with a wired solution. The Rosemount 3308 can be installed and operating in less than an hour – reliably transmitting data via a wireless gateway to a control system or data historian. Status information and device diagnostics are easily accessible from the control room, reducing maintenance requirements and enhancing operator safety by eliminating unnecessary field trips.

E+H reports good growth in 2018

Endress+Hauser’s business developed very positively across all regions and industries in 2018. The Group, one of the world’s leading providers of process and laboratory instrumentation, automation solutions and services, reports new highs in net sales, income and employment.

According to preliminary figures, Endress+Hauser increased net sales by more than 9 percent to over 2.4 billion euros in 2018. Exchange rate effects prevented even better results. “In local currencies, we grew nearly 13 percent,” said Chief Financial Officer Dr Luc Schultheiss. The family-owned company created new jobs primarily in production, research and development and services. At the end of 2018, Endress+Hauser had 13,928 employees worldwide, 629 more than the year before.

EH_matthias_altendorf“The solid development in sales shows that we have held our ground well in the market,” explained CEO Matthias Altendorf. “We supported our customers with more than 50 new products, solutions and services. We were able to break new ground through our digitalization strategy, as well as in the measurement and analysis of quality-relevant parameters”. The growth was spurred by innovations from across all fields of activity.

Good start to the new year

Endress+Hauser is expecting a somewhat weaker market dynamic for the current year. The Group is anticipating growth in the mid single-digit range, with earnings remaining at a healthy level. “The year has gotten off to a good start so far,” reported Luc Schultheiss. Assuming the business remains well on track, the Group expects to create several hundred new jobs around the world in 2019.

Endress+Hauser will present its 2018 audited financial figures on 14 May 2019 in Basel, Switzerland.

Hitachi buys ABB Power Grids

ABB has announced that Hitachi will acquire its Power Grids business as part of an expansion to the existing partnership between the two companies.

Hitachi plans to initially acquire an 80.1% stake in the Power Grids business and expects to close the acquisition in the first half of 2020. Hitachi has also entered into a purchase option to acquire the remaining 19.9% stake in Power Grids, making it a wholly-owned subsidiary.

In the fast-changing world of energy infrastructure, with a shifting customer landscape and the need for financing and increased government influence, ABB believes Hitachi is the best owner for Power Grids. As a stable and long-term committed owner, with whom ABB has developed a strong business partnership since 2014, Hitachi will further strengthen the business, providing it with access to new and growing markets as well as financing. Hitachi will accelerate Power Grids to the next stage of its development, building on the solid foundation achieved under ABB’s previous ownership.

Since 2014, Power Grids has been significantly improved under the ownership of ABB. The latest results are at the target margin corridor, having more than doubled margins, with positive third party base order development recorded for the last six consecutive quarters.

ABB will initially retain a 19.9 percent equity stake in the joint venture, allowing a seamless transition. The transaction agreement includes a pre-defined option for ABB to exit the retained 19.9 percent share, exercisable three years after closing, at fair market value with floor price at 90 percent of agreed Enterprise Value. Hitachi holds a call option over the remaining 19.9 percent share at fair market value with floor price at 100 percent of agreed Enterprise Value.

The joint venture will be headquartered in Switzerland, with Hitachi retaining the management team to ensure business continuity.

Starting in Q4 2018 until closing, ABB will report Power Grids in discontinued operations. As a consequence, ABB will record $350-400 million of stranded and other carve-out related costs, which are currently predominately recorded as part of the Power Grids cost base. These will now be recognised in ABB’s corporate & other operational EBITA. ABB expects to eliminate the vast majority of these costs by deal closing by transferring them back to Power Grids. ABB expects approximately $200 million of charges in Q4 2018 related predominantly to the legacy EPC substation business reported in non-core corporate & other operational EBITA.

ABB expects to incur one-time non-operational transaction and separation related costs of $500-600 million. ABB anticipates $800-900 million related cash tax impact. The completion of the transaction is expected by first half of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and fulfilment of closing conditions. ABB intends to return 100 percent of the estimated net cash proceeds of $7.6-7.8 billion from the 80.1 percent sale to shareholders in an expeditious and efficient manner through share buyback or similar mechanism.

Yokogawa Invests in Microalgae Biotech

Yokogawa has invested in a partnership with AlgaEnergy, a Spanish biotechnology company specialising in the production and commercial applications of microalgae. Their strategic agreement involves an approximately 10 million euro investment by Yokogawa to acquire newly issued shares of AlgaEnergy, making the Japanese company a reference shareholder.

Microalgae are a diverse group of unicellular photosynthetic micro-organisms that can thrive in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, such as oceans, lakes, and rivers. Their rapid rate of reproduction means they can be utilised effectively as a biological resource. They are recognised as having great potential to contribute to a more sustainable society through applications in diverse sectors ranging from agriculture, food, and animal feed through to pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, biomaterials and, in the future, sustainable biofuels.

AlgaEnergy has been a pioneer in the microalgae biotechnology field since 2007. It is currently operating a commercial production facility in the south of Spain, and, in late 2015, launched the world’s first line-up of microalgae-based biostimulant products to promote efficient crop cultivation. Biostimulants are micro-organisms whose function when applied to plants or the surrounding soil is to stimulate natural processes to enhance nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and crop quality.

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The AlgaEnergy microalgae production plant in Cadiz

The entry of Yokogawa as a shareholder will enable AlgaEnergy to reinforce its position of international leadership, with the equity investment being used to fund a set of ambitious projects, including international expansion of its biostimulant product sales organisation, entry into new sectors such as food and cosmetics, and development of its promising product pipeline.

Future Intentions:

The scope of this agreement extends beyond just financial investment. The two companies, which share strong synergies and a common vision, seek to build an industry-leading partnership in the microalgae biotechnology sector worldwide by collaborating in the areas of R&D, manufacturing, marketing, and sales. AlgaEnergy will leverage its broad knowledge and experience in the microalgae biological processes, accumulated throughout more than four decades of R&D by its scientific leader, the world-renowned microbiologist Professor Miguel Garcia Guerrero of the University of Seville. Yokogawa will provide the advanced technologies and knowhow related to automation of industrial processes that will be key to maximising quality and efficiency as production volumes increase.

Augusto Rodríguez-Villa, AlgaEnergy’s president, highlighted that, “This agreement is the best possible partnership in the journey to achieve our mission to leverage the potential of microalgae worldwide. We share the same vision for the future, the belief that more sustainable development is possible and that microalgae can be a key contributor towards that objective.”

Tsuyoshi Abe, senior vice president and head of the Marketing Headquarters at Yokogawa, added, “Yokogawa aims to contribute directly to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through its core business activities, and this year we established a new ‘Life Innovation’ business unit in line with that. This is our first serious foray into clean technology in the bioeconomy, which was recently added as a new focus area in our long-term business framework, so we have high expectations for this exciting strategic partnership.”

About AlgaEnergy

AlgaEnergy is a biotechnology company specialised in the science of microalgae. The company consolidates over four decades of state-of-the-art knowledge related to microalgae, generated by the main specialised universities, and has invested heavily in applied R&D, positioning itself as the main international reference in this field. AlgaEnergy’s mission is to develop and commercialise innovative, high-quality products derived from microalgae, targeting specific needs in different industries.