Yokogawa Dell PCs

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has signed a contract with Dell Inc for the global provision of PC models that are selected and customized for Yokogawa use. Under this contract, which was signed on August 20, Yokogawa will offer high-quality system solutions that utilize Dell PCs and Yokogawa industrial automation (IA) system-related products.

High performance PCs that incorporate the latest technologies are being used more and more in the control systems field, for example, by replacing the dedicated terminals used as human machine interfaces and to connect with host systems. However, while a production control system usually remains in use for a period of one to two decades or even longer, new PC hardware, operating systems, and application software incorporating the latest technologies and offering ever higher levels of performance are continually being released. While incorporating this new PC hardware and software in a control system, the control system supplier must take care to ensure that the overall system continues to meet the highest quality standards. To satisfy this need and offer quality system solutions, Yokogawa has concluded this contract with Dell for the supply of dedicated Yokogawa PC models.

Scope of the contract and the Yokogawa solution
Under the terms of the contract, Dell will supply PCs that have been tested to verify their compatibility with Yokogawa products. Yokogawa will globally distribute these PCs as Yokogawa certified models for use with its industrial automation system-related products, including the Centum VP integrated production control system, ProSafe-RS safety instrumented system, Plant Resource Manager (PRM), and Exa series solution-based software. These PCs are ‘long-life’ products that will remain available for twice as long as equivalent commercial off-the-shelf products. To meet a variety of operating conditions and installation requirements, they will be available in a rack-mount or desktop configuration with either a server or client operating system.

The provision of Dell PCs under the terms of this contract will enable Yokogawa to offer high quality system solutions. In addition, this will enable a reduction of maintenance costs. Key benefits are as follows:
1. Stable operation: As the PC hardware and OS to be used with the Yokogawa system-related products is set for a specified period of time, stable operation is ensured.
2. Fewer model changes: Because individual models are available for longer periods of time, model changes will be less of a concern when purchasing a new PC, either as an add-on or replacement.
3. One-stop maintenance service: Yokogawa‘s maintenance service will cover both its system-related products and the PCs.

Regarding this contract, Chiaki Itoh, vice president and head of the IA Marketing Headquarters, comments, “How to combine IT and IA is an important management issue for manufacturers because they urgently need to strengthen their competitiveness in the global market and ensure that they are managed in a sustainable fashion. By making the best use of Yokogawa IA technologies and know-how accumulated over the years and the latest Dell technologies and extensive supply chain, Yokogawa will continue to be able to offer its customers solutions that achieve the goals of our VigilantPlant initiative.”

“We are proud to partner with Yokogawa to help deliver next-generation industrial automation systems”, said Joyce Mullen, vice president and general manager OEM Solutions, Dell. “Yokogawa and Dell engineers are collaborating to deliver stable PC models tailored to the needs of control systems.”

Sensors guide tractors accurately

Peterborough based Garford Farm Machinery designs and manufactures advanced environmentally sustainable agricultural equipment to help large scale weed control and crop cultivation farming problems worldwide. Its ‘Robocrop’ range, covering weeding, hoeing or spraying, employs a specially developed precision guided vision system that uses real-time digital image analysis in conjunction with a hydraulic servo ‘sideshift’ assembly that laterally positions various multiple tools  exactly on or within the crop rows as the tractor mounted equipment is driven forwards.

The precision guided tools are used for mechanical weed control; to remove individual unwanted plants, hoe between rows of plants, or spray rows of plants – with impressive lateral positional accuracies of better than 10 mm at average tractor speeds of 12 km/hr.

Variohm EuroSensor provides the durable precision linear and rotary sensors for use in these extreme environmental and physical conditions, for tractor steering angle and lateral position feedback for the plant rows. To complete the package of sensors on the Robocrop, Variohm also supplies combined pressure and temperature sensors for hydraulic system monitoring.

The In-Row Weeder

Robocrop_Inrow WeederThe Robocrop InRow Weeder is the latest in the Garford range and utilises the tried and tested video image analysis technique to locate crop plants through pixel and colour recognition and then use this information to control individual rotating weeding discs which actually hoe the area between the plants (inter-row) or in line with the plants (inter-plant), eradicating competing weeds but leaving crops intact. The InRow Weeder features multiple individual discs which operate across several crop rows with a maximum width of six metres. The rotation of each disc is synchronised with the forward speed of the tractor and the plant positional information from an imaging camera which can cover a two metre width. Each weeding disc is coupled to a hydraulic motor, driven via a proportional valve controlled by the cab mounted Robocrop computer, which includes an HMI display to select modes and display operational information.

The sensors supplied to Garford are part of a comprehensive range of sensor technologies that Variohm EuroSensor designs, manufactures or sources for linear and rotary position, load, force and vibration measurement in demanding applications throughout industry, agriculture, construction, autosports and research.

 

Yokogawa recovery is now completed

The recent Yokogawa User Conference in Berlin was reported in the INSIDER Newsletter July 2014 issue, showing a major emphasis on wireless systems, and the addition of new wireless sensors, for example for flammable gas alarm applications. The Berlin conference was the first significant Yokogawa European event since the Nice User Group meeting in November 2012, and so gave a good opportunity to talk to the management and assess how the business has reorganized and progressed over the few years. The overall impression is that Yokogawa is back to full health, so the major players need to move over.

The problems of the last five years.

The group has had a hard time over the last five years, following the world-wide recession and then their poor financial results in 2009. Then Japanese factors affected the Group badly, with the rise of the Japanese Yen reducing the competitive position – because of local production and group HQ costs – and the country then faced the impact and aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. Some of the Test and Measurement Division businesses were sold off, realizing some capital, and the company structure has been rearranged: jobs and resources were re-allocated. Wound around this, the wireless standards ‘war’ between ISA100 and WirelessHART, where Yokogawa for a long time took the brunt of the problems, and presumably had to help in the process of finalizing the ISA100 standard into a workable form: at least this is now completed, and consequently Yokogawa is the leader in the ISA100 field.

Recovery factors

Perhaps the major market factor that aided the Yokogawa recovery was the growth of the LNG liquefaction and shipping activity around the world, since is this an area where they have significant expertise and have a large market share compared to the other majors. Currently there are continuing LNG projects, the Japanese Yen has returned to the historic level of ¥100=$1, and over some years the production facilities have been diversified, reducing the concentration in Japan.

The flow company, Rota, has always been headquartered in Europe: now the special custom assemblies of complete analyzer houses are also built in Europe and the USA, plus the latest LNG project on the Yamal peninsula in Russia will be engineered from Europe. In a discussion at their Berlin conference, Yokogawa president and COO Nishijima san reminded me that they already had two established manufacturing joint venture companies in China, manufacturing transmitters and flowmeters, and the DCS systems plus other measuring instruments are built in Indonesia, with general pcboard manufacturing in Singapore. Nishijima san also commented on the need for local manufacture in the USA to provide the fast lead times required in that market, so we might see investment in a new production assembly venture there.

The next steps – with wireless

The Berlin conference showed that Yokogawa is building on their ISA100 position, and is seeking other add-on wireless sensor technologies to increase their ‘in-house’ capability. This might be by using their add-on wireless adaptor/interface, to existing mains powered sensors. It looks like a good relationship has developed with GE Bently Nevada, and corrosion and intrusion detection sensors might be next, with maybe fire detection sensors to go alongside the GasSecure flammable gas detectors on offshore platforms. Dräger, the specialists in oil and gas safety technology, were one of the major sponsoring partners of the Berlin conference, and also presented a talk discussing fire detection, using visual flame detection systems.

Nishijima was appointed President in February 2013: in April 2013 Herman van den Berg was appointed European President, and in December 2013 Simon Rogers was recruited as the head of the UK operation. Van den Berg, probably in common with Chet Mroz and others in the USA, has been burning up the air miles to Japan over the past 18 months, as a part of planning the recovery of the business. In fact there was an acquisition in March 2013 of Soteica Visual Mesa, marking an entry for Yokogawa into energy management IT services. Nishijima san sees further alliances and even acquisitions as an important route for Yokogawa to consider, to achieve the future growth his shareholders expect to see, and the current improvement in debt/equity ratio and normalization of the company share status makes this much more possible.

DCS and software developments

The major existing DCS developments have involved cyber-security improvements, probably in conjunction with McAfee after the February 2013 announcement, and ISAsecure certification for ProSafe RS. Additions to expect in this area are augmented reality added onto the displays, and compatibility with virtual servers. Yokogawa sees major business expansion potential in providing IT techniques and services for their IA customers, as a continuing service activity.

Examples quoted were CMMS in the cloud, which is already being offered as a service in Japan, and a software service called iMaintain, jointly developed and installed with Akzo Nobel in Germany: plus there is also their RigRider drilling procedure software, as reported from the Offshore Europe Expo in the newsletter last September. iMaintain enables client engineers to access device live data and history via a tablet on site, after reading the device ID locally using OCR. The iMaintain server accesses the DCS via an OPC link, to get current data, but can also call up device notes previously recorded, and also the instruction manual. A similar service offering is the Sotieca VisualMesa energy management system, which can suggest fuel and operational changes that will run plants such as refineries at minimal cost. One example of this is a recent project for the BP Lingen refinery in Germany: the system is in use in around 70 sites in refineries and petrochemical plants in the EU and North America.

The R+D activity on instrumentation also continues….

In the area of field instrumentation, continuing development will be seen following their strategy of having a two tier offering, featuring a top of the range unit backed up with a lower cost unit aimed at lower specification requirements. This has been seen with the EJX and EJA-E pressure transmitter, and the Admag AXF flowmeter, with the RXF unit typically for water industry applications. A new version of the TDLS combustion gas analyzer will also be launched soon. The activity level in this area of R+D is significant, with typically 400 to 500 new patents generated in a year.

Nick Denbow

The INSIDER Newsletter covering industrial automation and control is a Spitzer and Boyes publication, see http://www.iainsider.co.uk

Thales promotes Cybersecurity business line

The following review article was published in the May 2014 issue of the INSIDER Newsletter:

The Thales Group occupies one of the major office developments on the outskirts of Basingstoke in the UK: the building was known for many years as Thales Missile Systems, from the name on the outside – it was not a company that immediately sprung to mind as an expert in control systems and information technology. Over the past year the attitude from within Thales seems to have developed, and has recently seen much more information flow in press releases and meetings discussing their business. Last autumn saw the launch of a new ‘Cyber Integration and Innovation Centre’, and the associated business activity, housed within this building, a GBP2m ($3.2m) facility with fully isolated and screened computing laboratories, designed to allow improved cyber security and testing for critical national infrastructure, governments and companies.

Screened, because the centre has over 6000 pieces of computer malware, that can be used to test mirror copies of client networks, and where managed cyber-attacks from one lab onto an adjacent lab can be used to train staff how to protect systems, spot vulnerabilities and respond to breaches, including mass ‘Denial of Service’ (DOS) attacks.  “We can model networks for clients in a safe environment so we can upgrade, update and change things before they go live. This is particularly important in safety critical industries, such as a nuclear power station,” said Sam Keayes, a Thales vp, now presumably within a new business division formed recently known as the Critical Information Systems and Cybersecurity business line. Using equipment and technology from strategic partners like Spirent, Encase, FireEye and Mandiant, Cevn Vibert, the centre manager, commented that Thales experts can pick up and mirror a site computer system, bringing the whole infrastructure back to the lab, to stress test it against cyber-attack, jitter etc. This is a very necessary service when Thales systems run the majority of the world’s air traffic control, and their encryption is used to protect 80% of the world’s bank transactions, which include 3.7Bn transactions per annum via BACS.

Thales is a French owned group, which was originally called Thomson-CSF. The only slight problem with the simpler name is that it is pronounced “Talliss”. Their acquisition of the original business of Ferranti Computer Systems allows the claim that they have been providing technical support for the UK fleet of nuclear power stations for the last 25 years, which is a continuing responsibility, as the service life of these stations continues to be extended.

Based on Ferranti expertise

Here I have to admit that even your editor is not old enough to know the history behind some of the businesses that make up the current Thales Group. For that sort of archival knowledge we have to go back to Wikipedia, and even to Andrew Bond, the Founding Editor of the INSIDER, who remembers the original UK based DCS manufacturers and vendors from the 60s and 70s – Ferranti, Kent and GEC Elliott.

Ferranti was formed in 1882 as Ferranti, Thompson (yes- that Thompson) and Ince. Much later the company played a major part in WW2 in the development of radar, and gyro gunsights for the Spitfire. In 1949 they produced their first multi-input battlefield situation information system. At the same time they started to develop computer systems: eventually the Government under Tony Benn organized an industrial consolidation which led to the set-up of ICL, International Computers Ltd, in 1968. This deal restricted Ferranti to the industrial computing market, rather than the commercial, and Ferranti developed the Argus range. In 1987 Ferranti purchased International Signal and Control (ISC) in the USA, a defence contractor, whose business turned out to have been based on illegal arms sales. ISC was prosecuted for fraud, and this forced Ferranti into bankruptcy in 1993.

The Ferranti Computer Systems operations were acquired out of administration by Syseca, the IT arm of the French Group Thomson-CSF. Thomson then changed its name to Thales, and Syseca became Thales Information Systems.

The other UK producers 

Andrew Bond sees the rest of the UK history of DCS manufacturers as intertwined with the career of the late Tony Benn MP, who became Minister of Technology in the Labour Government of 1964-70, and secretary of State for Industry from in the 1974-79 administration. George Kent needed rescuing in 1974, possibly because of the strains of the investment in their new DCS, the P4000, and Benn wanted Arnie Weinstock’s GEC to take them over, out of the two options available: but his worker democracy approach backfired, and the workers voted to opt for Brown Boveri, as a better choice for their new owners. Following the Brown Boveri merger with ASEA in 1988, the P4000 became just another of the original control systems within the ABB group.

Meanwhile GEC under Arnie Weinstock was not enthusiastic about process instrumentation or automation, and already had business links with Fisher valves, so with Benn’s encouragement put all the GEC automation interests into a joint venture with Fisher, which included their own DCS and the systems made under license from ICI, Imperial Chemical Industries, which they had developed for their own plants. GEC had acquired the Elliott Brothers business within English Electric in 1968. Monsanto had acquired Fisher Controls in 1969, and much later sold the business to Emerson in 1992: at some time in this period Weinstock backed out of the JV and sold out from any involvement in process automation.

Ferranti Argus computers

The Argus was first developed for military duties – in 1958 used for the ground-based control of Bristol Bloodhound missiles – and were also offered as industrial control computers from the 1960s into the 1980s, for factory and plant automation. They were widely used across Europe and in the UK: typical installations for the Argus 500 were in chemical plants for process control – and nuclear power stations, for process monitoring. The first such Argus sale in 1962 was to ICI, for a soda ash and ammonia plant in Lancashire. Another significant application was for Police command and control installations, where one of the most famous was in Strathclyde: here maps were provided by using a 35mm slide projected onto a VDU screen. The Argus 500 was one of Ferranti’s best-selling products, particularly to oil platforms in the North Sea in the 1970s.

The Argus 600 was an 8-bit machine, and the Argus 700 used 16-bit architecture, whose design started in 1968, and they were in production until the mid-1980s: these are still operational at several British nuclear power stations in control and data processing applications.

Current declared activity

Thales do not mention a significant part of their business activity – a necessary culture, developed over the years since WW2, because of involvement with military projects. This ethos remains, in particular in not declaring where security, cyber-security, and emergency management resources might be deployed, whether military or commercial. However, there is an interesting parallel between Thales and EDF, of France, who now owns all the operational nuclear power plants in the UK. Thales is quoted as a long term delivery service partner with EDF. Following the Fukushima event in Japan, EDF-Energy NGL undertook a rigorous assessment of the resilience of its fleet of UK nuclear power stations, against the highly unlikely occurrence of an extreme weather or other natural event. Part of a suite of safety enhancements resulting is the provision of a mobile emergency response capability that could be deployed should such an event occur.

Thales committed to provide 5 sets of a containerised DCIS (Deployable Communication and Information Systems) for this duty by 31st March 2014. As a nuclear emergency response capability, each DCIS provides a transportable and deployable containerised unit to monitor critical plant systems and relay essential data through a resilient communications network, to provide emergency response decision makers with the information that they need to make the best possible decisions.

Separately, Thales has a co-operation agreement with Schneider Electric for the development of cybersecurity solutions and services to protect command-and-control systems from cyber-attack in customer installations in France. This includes computer attacks launched from plant management systems, unauthorised access across wireless networks and malware introduced via USB memory sticks.

Critical national infrastructure protection also includes work with oil and gas installations, petrochemical plants and pipeline systems. Thales quotes their integrated security protection systems with perimeter and access control, using CCTV etc, for twelve of the SABIC sites, and advise that Aramco refineries have similar high technology systems, supplemented by video motion detectors – the Ras Tanura complex is another site where there is such a perimeter security system.

Crisis management systems

The authorities and forces responsible for public safety and security must contend with increasingly frequent and wide-ranging incidents, from crime and accidents to natural disasters and crisis situations. This is one of the areas Thales sees as a major activity area and strength of their capability. Thales has developed a new solution incorporating the key conventional functions — situation awareness, management of command information and crisis management system resources — combined with new modules, such as advanced decision support and asset coordination. These systems are quoted as deployed in the Ciudad Segura (secure city) project in Mexico, the crowd flow and density monitoring systems in Mecca, and the BDSP public security database for the Gendarmerie Nationale in France, with systems that incorporate the deployment of sensors in UAVs. There are many more examples that cannot be quoted. Whilst in the process industry we are becoming familiar with the iOps concept from Emerson, and the Honeywell Collaboration station, the Thales Command and Control Centre is maybe a couple of grades more advanced.

Part of the suite of labs in the Critical Infrastructure Protection Facility in Basingstoke featured a combined system for perimeter security, CCTV, process control – including a DCS and a PLC (both from well known names) with valves in control loops, fire and gas alarms and access control, which enabled demonstration of the possible effects of a cyber-attack. This has been used to show legislators and management – and train operators about – the vulnerability of such systems. Manager of this facility, Cevn Vibert, explained “Our customers manage mission critical infrastructures and benefit from our holistic integrated security solutions. The market has evolved from discrete bespoke islanded systems to multi-site networked control rooms which require our integrated security techniques. These solutions cover people, operations, security, process, maintenance, business and cyber security for holistic situational awareness. This facility enables Thales to test, educate, demonstrate and explore these innovative approaches to our customer’s real needs.”  It is no coincidence that Thales is exhibiting this part of their technology at International Security and Resilience exhibitions across the Middle East, and are targeting Governments and operators of critical infrastructure projects worldwide.

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 consulthttp://www.iainsider.co.uk or http://www.spitzerandboyes.com

Eurotherm launches E+PLC family

Invensys Eurotherm, a global supplier of measurement and instrumentation for process and machine control applications, has launched a family of new precision PLC products aimed at significantly increasing the profitability and efficiency of Heat Treatment and Thermal Processing systems.  The new “E+PLC” product combines precision measurement and control, secure data recording, and a variety of visualisation solutions in a single standard PLC platform..

Previously to obtain optimum performance and meet accurate pyrometry specifications (eg. AMS2750E), companies needed to buy separate products for temperature control, data recording and visualisation. This was costly and inefficient.  Combining all these products into one easy to use, flexible and highly functioning precision PLC platform simplifies commissioning and reduces engineering time. The E+PLC also targets operational efficiency and makes regulatory compliance much easier.

Tim Linnell, Product Portfolio Manager at Invensys Eurotherm explains how the E+PLC’s versatile functionality will have a significant impact on the manufacturing industry, meeting the most demanding challenges of modern processing needs.

He explains: “For many companies, in an increasingly competitive global environment, the efficiency of thermal treatments will be the difference between being profitable and not.  Eurotherm’s unique fast reacting PID control minimises overshoot, improving accuracy and reducing waste.

“The high precision temperature control ensures the correct temperature is obtained quicker and stays at the optimum level required without deviation, ensuring high quality results first time without wasting time waiting for operating temperature to be reached. This increases throughput of a furnace or thermal treating machine in comparison with traditional PLC based control. Fast acting PID with overshoot inhibition can enable an extra furnace batch cycle to be completed within any 24 hour period. By eliminating damping of PID sets and relying on Eurotherm’s unique overshoot inhibition customers can heat aggressively up to temperature with the confidence of keeping within the required setpoint temperature tolerances.

“These benefits are easily realised in the E+PLC using standard software building blocks, with an auto-tuning function to match the control response to a particular application. This can reduce the time needed to programme and commission an application from days (and sometimes weeks) to hours.

“The E+PLC range also includes secure data logging designed to meet the requirements of thermal treatment standards such as CQI-9 and AMS2750 E. Indeed, Eurotherm has built its business over many years around the requirements of such standards, and is trusted by auditors and customers alike. Of course data logging is only one part of standards compliance, and our highly stable precision measurement circuitry assures compliance with accuracy specifications, aids conformance to System Accuracy Tests (SAT) and improves the output from Temperature Uniformity Surveys (TUS).”

He continued, “Data recording and temperature control is highly specialised and Eurotherm has a track record gained over 50 years in developing these products, building a peerless reputation with the leading businesses in the thermal treatment sector. Eurotherm operate also in some of the most stringently regulated industry sectors in the world, including the global pharmaceutical and biotech industries where our products and secure data recording infrastructure are trusted implicitly.

“Combining Eurotherm’s best of breed products and adding visualisation tools into this new self-contained precision E+PLC platform brings high efficiencies and reduced engineering time.”

Key features and benefits of E+PLC include:

• Straightforward compliance with thermal processing standards, for example CQI-9, AMS2750 E.

• Easy to commission precision PID control blocks with auto tuning.

• Set-point programmer. This easy configuration saves programming time and gives guaranteed operation, helping to lower processing costs.

• Precision measurement of process variables to give accurate, repeatable results which translates to minimum energy usage.

• Total data integrity and secure recording, keeping valuable process records safe by using highly robust file storage strategies to protect against power and network failures.

• Batch functionality and complete traceability.

• An open CODESYS platform, a de facto industry standard.  Using an open platform, industry standard (IEC61131-3) the E+PLC is well supported through Eurotherm and an extended community of PLC programmers.

• Integrated HMI software platform with a variety of visualisation options.

• Flexible visualisation giving dynamic debugging of application programmes together with concurrent development of the final process visualisation.

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.

Rockwell acquires Jacobs Automation

Rockwell Automation has announced that it has agreed to purchase Jacobs Automation, the leader in intelligent track motion control technology. Jacobs Automation provides a motion control solution called the iTRAK System. This technology improves performance across a wide range of packaging, material handling, and other applications for the global machine builder market.

“The combination of iTRAK technology with our Integrated Architecture will be a game changer for machine builders,” said Victor Swint, vice president, motion control business, Rockwell Automation. “It will provide customers with new technology to enhance performance and flexibility so they can quickly respond to changing market demands.”

iTRAK technology enables independent control of multiple magnetically propelled movers on straight and curved paths. The system enables machine and equipment builders to reduce cost and complexity, while allowing end users to standardize on one platform for better optimization, improved reliability, and faster system deployment.

“iTRAK is a disruptive technology providing faster speed and greater flexibility for machine builders,” said Keith Jacobs, president, Jacobs Automation. “This integrated solution will increase productivity, reduce energy consumption and provide more rapid changeovers by adjusting machine speed and geometry during operations. Rockwell Automation has the resources and presence with global OEMs to make it a new industry standard.”

Jacobs Automation, based in Erlanger, Kentucky, will be integrated into Rockwell Automation’s motion business, within its Architecture & Software segment. The acquisition is expected to close January 2014.

As a member of the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork, Jacobs Automation will exhibit at the Automation Fair event Nov. 13-14 at the George C. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, USA.