Fresh air with Brexit @ProcessingTalk

Having been a silent voter during the run up to the referendum, and appalled by the rubbish pedalled by the Politicians on both sides, I was delighted to discover that despite my reservations about leaving the EU, a small majority of the voting population also agreed that the positive aspects of a Brexit outweighed some inevitable early problems.

Why is there so much worry over the UK from my overseas friends and relations? The UK is one of the original trading nations, dating back to the C15th. The world is now a much smaller place, and all nations seek to trade worldwide. No countries or group of countries put up trading barriers (or walls) to stop trade, so business between the EU and the UK across the board will continue. They would lose more business than we would, by ceasing to carry existing business forwards. Plus all the recent growth in UK exports has come from trade with non-EU countries.

Forty years ago, the Politicians suggested joining the Common market would be great, citing cheap wine etc. Just another bad promise I’m afraid. Plus we joined the Common Market, not the EU, a Federation of States whose unelected bosses dictate that cucumbers and bananas shall be straight, and set the minimum size of strawberries to exclude the better English (and Scottish) ones. My niece asked where I would get my supplies of wine – so I mentioned that we drink only Australian and NZ wine, the wine sold expensively in the UK from France is actually the cheap stuff they would not drink themselves, and presumably normally turn into vinegar.

The French describe the British as a nation of shopkeepers. It is true, but I say we are a nation of independent-minded traders, sometimes also called entrepreneurs.

What about Automation

In the UK, there will be a slowdown of investment, and this will hit what little domestic spend there was on process automation. It is in the food industry where automation is needed most, and the suppliers there are surely used to an unwillingness to invest. Other sensors go into machinery that is exported, and some of that will suffer with a turndown in EU trade. The oil industry is not really investing at the moment, but the lower GBP/USD rate might make our oil industry, with its experience, and our costs more competitive in overseas contracts.

Siemens, who were publicly very much against a Brexit, has announced it will put on hold any further investment in its wind turbine manufacturing plant in Hull, where it has just set up a new factory employing 1000 people, at a cost of GBP310m. Hull voted by one of the largest majorities FOR Brexit. Dong Energy, the biggest investor in UK wind power, said “we don’t believe that UK energy policy is dependent on EU membership”. Maybe the UK can impose a trade barrier that stops Areva sending their reactor to Hinkley Point: already a UK Government advisor has suggested the GBP18Bn investment by EDF would be cancelled by the French. Maybe then we could go for a sensible UK/US solution?

From an editor’s point of view, press releases about major onshore automation investment projects in the EU, by British suppliers, have been very thin on the ground for several years. So what is at risk with a Brexit anyway? For the big multinationals, they deal with these contracts through their local subsidiaries, wherever the work or engineering is carried out. Most project descriptions these days mention interlinked CAD systems using resources from 5 or 6 design centres all around the world, and the work flows electronically through country borders. From India to Aberdeen, Houston, Madrid, Romania, Italy, UK and Egypt. So what will change? The Brexit might subtly boost the likelihood of investment projects in Eire, rather than the UK, which would be good news for Ireland.

Changes to expect

Probably the people feeling the pinch most will be the City Traders and the Banks. The pound will settle to a lower level, enabling us to recover faster, and then it will climb back when compared to the Euro, if not the Dollar. Whether there will be any further effects on the EU, I cannot predict. There is very little likelihood of Scotland or Northern Ireland breaking away from the UK and joining the EU separately (but the last time I said something similar to this, it was to say that “clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters would never be able to measure steam or gas flow” – judge for yourself).

What I would like to see is an end to the extreme contrast between the lowest and the highest salaries in the UK, possibly starting by eliminating those highly paid banking jobs. Already HSBC is relocating their Euro currency trading operation to Paris. Maybe this will put a lid on the property prices in London, and overseas billionaires will sell their empty apartments. At least we will now stop paying high salaries and higher travel expenses to the ineffectively employed UK MEPs (Members of the European Parliament)!

For another viewpoint….

For a different viewpoint, see Eoin O’Riain’s post on his Read-out.net Instrumentation Signpost blog: https://instrumentsignpost.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/nobody-knows-brexit-pauto-tandm/

Nick Denbow

http://www.Processingtalk.info

Food & Pharmaceutical Futures

‘Food & Pharmaceutical Futures’ was the title of an ISA Symposium held in Cork, Ireland in March 2016, the first ISA Food and Pharmaceutical Symposium to be held outside North America. Eoin O’Riain reported on the event, which was a major success, in his magazine Read-out.net, and also on-line: his webpage reference is bit.ly/1odd6cZ

Most of his report is re-presented here, as follows:

From the time it was first mooted for Ireland in 2015 the planning for the 3rd ISA Food & Pharmaceutical Symposium was embraced with enthusiasm by the local Ireland Section. This was in Philadelphia early in 2015  and since then the ISA’s Food & Pharma Division under the able directorship of Canadian Andre Michel has ploughed forward, overcoming setbacks and the not inconsiderable distances between North America and the capital of Munster. Chair of the symposium and former Ireland Section President, Dave O’Brien directed a strong committee charged with ensuring that this – the first such international symposium organised by the ISA outside North America – would be a resounding success.

And it was.

Venues were assessed, speakers recruited and the various minutiae associated with organising an international event were discussed, duties assigned and problems solved over many late night transatlantic telephone conferences. Using the experience of the ISA staff in North Carolina and the many years of experience in organising table-top events and conferences in Ireland by the Ireland Section a very creditable event was staged at the Rochestown Park Hotel. With some justification the Symposium Chair could state before the event started “We have assembled a truly outstanding program this year, featuring some of the world’s most accomplished experts in serialization, process optimization, cyber security and alarm management to name a few. These experts will speak on the vital issues affecting food and drug manufacturers and distributors. We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring this event to Ireland for its first time outside of the United States!”

Indeed upwards of 200 registrands agreed with this view and attended the two day event: a turnout that nearly doubled the attendance at last year’s event in Philadelphia USA. Plus it was noticeable that the bulk of the delegates stayed right up to the completion of the final sessions.

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Technology and Innovation for 2020 Global Demands

Two fluent keynote speakersPaul McKenzie, Senior Vice President, Global Biologics Manufacturing & Technical Operations at Biogen (who addressed “Driving Change Thru Innovation & Standards”) and Dr Peter Martin, VP and Edison Master, Schneider Electric Company (Innovation and a Future Perspective on Automation and Control) may be said to have set the tone. The event was also graced with the presence of ISA International President for 2016 Mr Jim Keaveney.

The technical programme featured 40 presentations, delivered by 33 experts in their fields: a few of the session highlights were as follows:

Serialization

The important subject of serialization which affects all level of the pharmaceutical business especially in view of deadlines in the USA and the EU. From an overview of the need and the technology to a deep dive into the user requirements, this session provided the latest information on the world requirements and helping provide the solution needed in each facility. Speakers, as in most sessions, were drawn from standard, vendor and user organisations as well as state enforcement agencies.

Track & Trace

In the parallel Food thread of the symposium the rôle of track and trace technologies were examined. Product safety, output quality, variability and uniqueness of customer requirements manufacturers are facing increasing demands on the traceability of raw materials, real-time status of manufactured goods and tracking genealogy of products throughout the value chain from single line to the multiple sites of global manufacturers. The evolution of data systems and technologies being offered means greater benefits for Industry and presenters Vision ID and Crest will show these solutions and the advantage of modernization.

116Both conference threads came together for much of the event mirroring the similarity of many of the technologies and requirements of each sector.

Digitalization

Digitalization in industry shows what bringing the worlds of automation and digitalization together provides true and advanced paperless manufacturing with more complex devices and interconnected data systems. This is an enabler to integrated operations within industry. Using MES as a core concept to create a Digital Plant and optimized solutions with data driven services was explained. And a practical example of a plant was discussed showing the journey to paperless manufacturing and a real pharmaceutical strategy of integrating automated and manual operations.

Cybersecurity

Of course this is one of the key topics in automation in this day and age. Without implementing the proper preventative measures, an industrial cyber-attack can contribute to equipment failure, production loss or regulatory violations, with possible negative impacts on the environment or public welfare. Incidents of attacks on these critical network infrastructure and control systems highlight vulnerabilities in the essential infrastructure of society, such as the smart grid, which may become more of a focus for cybercriminals in the future. As well as threats from external sources steps ought to be taken to protect control and automation systems from internal threats which can cripple a company for days or months. This session highlighted the nature of these threats, how systems and infrastructure can be protected, and methods to minimize attacks on businesses.

Automation Challenges for a Greenfield Biotech Facility

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Networking in the coffee break

These were outlined in this session in the pharmaceutical thread. Recent advances in biotechnology are helping prepare for society’s most pressing challenges. As a result, the biotech industry has seen extensive growth and considerable investment over the last number of years. Automation of Biotech plants has become increasingly important and is seen as a key differentiator for modern biotech facilities. Repeatable, data rich and reliable operations are an expectation in bringing products to market faster, monitor and predict performance and ensure right first time delivery. This session provided the most topical trends in automation of biotech facilities and demonstrated how current best practices make the difference and deliver greater value to businesses.

Process Optimization and Rationalization

Meanwhile in the Food & Beverage thread incremental automation improvement keeps competitiveness strong. Corporate control system standardization leads to constant demand for increases in production and quality.

Industry 4.0 (Digital Factory: Automate to Survive)

The fourth industrial revolution is happening! This session asked how Global Industry and Ireland are positioned. What did this mean to Manufacturer’s and Industry as a whole? The use of data-driven technologies, the Internet of things (IoT) and Cyber-Physical Systems all integrate intelligently in a modern manufacturing facility. Enterprise Ireland and the IDA headlined this topic along with the ICMR (Irish Centre for Manufacturing Research) and vendors Rockwell and Siemens.

OEE and Automation Life-cycle

Worldwide today many of the over 60 Billion Euro spend in installed control systems are reaching the end of their useful life. However, some of these controls, operational since the 80’s and 90’s, invested significantly in developing their intellectual property and much of what was good then is still good now. Of course some aspects still need to evolve with the times. This requires funding, time and talent. For quite some time now there has been a skilled automation shortage at many companies leading organizations to outsourcing, partnerships and collaboration with SME’s to help manage the institutional knowledge of their installed control systems.

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Further networking

With corporate leadership sensitive to return to shareholders, plant renovation approval hurdle rates are usually high when it comes to refreshing these control systems. In many manufacturing facilities, engineers and production managers have been asked to cut costs and yet still advance productivity. To solve this dilemma, many world class facilities continue to focus on driving improvements through the use of automation and information technology. Some are finding that using existing assets in conjunction with focused enhancement efforts can take advantage of both worlds. Here we were shown great examples of where innovation and such experiences are helping to create real value for automation modernization.

Alarm management

And of course no matter how sophisticated systems are Alarms are always require and necessary. DCSs, SCADA systems, PLCs, or Safety Systems use alarms. Ineffective alarm management systems are contributing factors to many major process accidents and so this was an important session to end the symposium.

The social aspect of this event was not forgotten, and following a wine reception there was an evening of networking, with music, at the end of the first day.

Training Courses

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Eric Cosman in full flow

On the Wednesday, although the symposium itself was finished there were two formal all day training courses.

  1. Introduction to Industrial Automation Security and the ANSI/ISA-62443 Standards (IC32C – Leader Eric Cosman, OIT Concepts ).
  2. Introduction to the Management of Alarm Systems (IC39C – Leader Nick Sands, DuP0nt).

These, and other, ISA courses are regularly held in North America and the Ireland Section occasionally arranges for them in Ireland.

In Summary

Andre Michel, ISA FPID Director, and President of Efficient Plant Inc, summed up the impressions left by this first such ISA conference outside North America: “This was truly an internationally focused event because it tackled the significant issues and trends in automation affecting the food and pharmaceutical industries on a global scale.”

All in all the Ireland Section and its members may feel very proud in looking back on a very well organised and informative event which in an email from one of the attendees, “Thank you all, It was the best symposium I attended in the last 10 years!”