New biopharma plant in Switzerland chooses Emerson automation

Belgium-based UCB has awarded Emerson Process Management a Euro4.7m contract to provide integrated process automation and operations management systems for a new biopharmaceutical production centre in Bulle, Switzerland. Emerson’s technologies and engineering services will be crucial in meeting the very high standards expected by the UCB project team.

UCB is investing Euro175m to construct the first phase of a new plant, its first biopharmaceutical project in Switzerland. The 20,000-square-metre facility, which will be one of the largest in Europe, will be the main production centre for Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

“The state-of-the-art and largely automated facility at Bulle will be a model for the industry when it opens in 2015,” said Michele Antonelli, UCB executive vice president. “To ensure the project meets its tight build-out schedule, we selected Emerson Process Management for its demonstrated ability to engineer and coordinate fast-track automation projects of this type.”

Emerson’s integrated solution includes its Syncade Smart Operations Management Suite, DeltaV digital automation system, and AMS Suite predictive maintenance software. Emerson will also provide related engineering services, including design, installation, testing and commissioning.

The Syncade Suite software integrates real-time plant floor data with business processes, decisions, and asset management – a key advantage in managing complex operations and extensive documentation required in pharmaceutical production. Syncade Suite manages workflow processes, including electronic work instructions, equipment status and material tracking, recipe-driven operations, automated weigh and dispense operations, and exception reporting.

“Typical biotech manufacturing can involve thousands of pieces of paper that can affect the ability to produce ‘right-first-time’ batches,” said Lorenzo Zampini, automation project manager. “With Emerson’s integrated operations management and control systems, we can automate the reporting process as well as gain tighter process control for increased productivity and smoother regulatory compliance.”

The Syncade software integrates with Emerson’s DeltaV automation system to facilitate operational activities and information flow from the plant floor up to UCB’s SAP system. In the UCB plant, the DeltaV system will control 163 process units including fermentation, purification, filtration, and bottling.  Emerson’s new electronic marshalling technology with CHARMs (characterization modules) will help minimise installation time by eliminating up to two-thirds of the wiring and connections needed with traditional control systems.

Emerson’s AMS Suite predictive maintenance software that will be supporting HART instrumentation will make it easy for technicians to calibrate critical instruments, check their status, and even detects potential problems before they affect operations.

“Emerson is delighted that UCB has chosen us to automate this ground-breaking facility,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “Our proven ability to provide a single source for both plant automation and operations management systems will help UCB seamlessly manage operations from the plant floor to the head office.  We look forward to working with them as they bring the Bulle facility to life.”

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“Buncefield – Why did it happen?”

The causes underlying the Buncefield accident, on 11 December 2005, were not quoted in real detail in the several initial reports published, and even in the final report of the Major Incident Investigation Board, issued in 2008, basically because of the impending legal proceedings against several of the companies involved. Sentence was passed on the Defendants on 16 July 2010, with fines and associated costs charged to them of around GBP8.5m. Following that the issue of the Health and Safety Executive COMAH summary report “Buncefield – Why did it happen?” tried to summarize the details of the story. You can see this report on www.hse.gov.uk/comah/buncefield/buncefield-report.pdf.

What was more interesting was to listen to a recent presentation to the InstMC Wessex Section by Colin Howard, of Istech Consulting in Teesside, a company he founded in 2001 after a 35 year career with ICI, and various other roles in C+I, QA and safety. Introducing Mr Howard as a Past President of the Institute of Measurement and Control, and as a soon-to-be Honorary Fellow of the same, Graham Dunkley, Chairman of the Wessex section of InstMC explained to an audience of well over 100 engineers  at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu that Howard had been the “Expert witness to the Court” in these Buncefield prosecutions: this is an impartial advisor to the Judge – and the Jury – on the technical aspects being discussed in the presentations of evidence to the Court.

Background to the operations

The detail was that the 6000m3 tank receiving the pipeline delivery of 8400m3 of heavy gasoline containing 10% butane inevitably overflowed, by around 300 tons / 250,000 litres, because the operational system in use covering this part of the site relied on high level alarms from the tank level gauging system to tell the operators to switch over to another receiving tank. This level gauging system failed, as it had done 14 times in the previous 3 months, but the operators did not have a display of the tank level visible (which would have shown a static level): the single screen display available to them was devoted to showing a different tank. The independent high level alarm (IHLS), a spring-supported magnetically actuated reed switch driven from a weight on the floating roof, also failed.  This was of an early 1980s design, and the failure was because the padlock holding the maintenance test arm on this switch had not been refitted after use, and therefore did not hold the self test arm in the correct place. The test arm dropped, making the relay move in relation to the end stop, and prevent the magnet reaching the reed switch. In the manual it stated “Fit the padlock for security”, which did not indicate that the padlock hasp had to be 5mm dia +/- 0.1mm, and that any different size would make a malfunction possible, and that this padlock played an essential part in the functioning of the level alarm system. It seems that most other sites using this system have also lost or replaced this padlock with their own unit, not of the required size.

At Buncefield, when delivery drivers reported to the control room that there was a dense cloud of fuel vapour around the tanks – the butane had vaporized when dropping over the edge of the tank in a spray – the operators pressed the Emergency Shut-Down button on the system – use of this was meant to close all tank side valves: but there was no software associated with this button. Later it was shown that of the five security levels in the software only one level was used, and everyone had access to that. While there was no procedure written down for the tank filling activity – a point missed during a recently completed DNV assessment and review of the site procedures – the operators knew that they had to phone Birmingham to have the operators there stop the delivery of the gasoline down the line: they had to use the normal commercial phone land-lines, they had no control system feature that could halt the inflow on site at Buncefield.

The operators did have a Fire Alarm button, which would start the firewater pump to cover the tanks with water, and protect them from the heat of any fire. However, pressing that led to an immediate vapour cloud explosion, probably ignited by a spark from the pump itself: it measured 2.4 on the Richter scale. The fire burned for several days, and the bund walls, another essential safety feature, showed themselves to be inefficient, and leak: the tertiary containment was inadequate. Fire suppressants and fuel leaked into the groundwater around the site.

The fines imposed

The fines imposed were a total of: Total (UK) Ltd GBP2.6m, Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd (HOSL), a Total subsidiary, GBP 1.45m, British Pipeline Agency Ltd (BPAL) GBP300k, Motherwell Control Systems 2003 Ltd GBP1k and TAV Engineering GBP1k. In this, apparently it was recognized that larger fines for these two instrumentation companies would threaten their commercial future. Initially some press reports suggested the high level alarms were Cobham float switches, but while Cobham float switches were common on this site, none were involved in this accident. This business has subsequently been sold by Cobham, to AMSensors Ltd.

Howard further commented that these overfill hazards are common occurrences, and over the last 30 years six similar events have been reported. Since Buncefield, there have been two further such events. He comments that in August 2003 Buncefield had a near miss – a dress rehearsal for the December 2005 accident. Then, the IHLS failed, but it was not replaced until April 2004!

What did the Judge say?

The Judge said all the things you would expect. But most relevant was the response to the defence offered by the main operators on site: their defence was that they had sub-contracted level gauging and alarm system maintenance, that they had subcontracted the safety and procedures audit, or in the case of HOSL, it had subcontracted all operational matters on site to Total (UK). In other words they said “It wasn’t our responsibility, we told them to do it!” The Judge ruled that it was not legally possible to pass on (ie sub-contract) such responsibility. “The core of a major hazard business should be clear and positive process safety leadership and board level involvement and competence to ensure that major hazard risks are being properly managed.” It was also noted that “Routine operations are often those in which lax habits are most likely to develop”. The summary report quoted above gives many more such comments.

What did Howard say?

The small comments, maybe of detail, from Colin Howard, were in a way more interesting. The whole site had been split into separate companies, and a perimeter fence built half way across the area covered by a control system: so the half of a system left with the operators of the BPA pipeline was not really adequate. The operators did not like the fact that they had no control over the delivery system, and indeed did not have a flow measurement indicator for that delivery line: during the delivery that caused the overflow, from 1850 hours on the Saturday night, the flow rate was around 550m3/hr: shortly before the accident the rate of flow increased to around 900m3/hr, without the knowledge of the operators, when other off-takes further down the line were ceased.

The IHLS supplied by TAV to Motherwell Control Systems to replace the alarm on this receiving tank was poorly specified (in April 04), and was of a different design: possibly the original design had been upgraded. It had a dual function test lever, for high or low level alarm. There were no MOC procedures in place to check the implications of this, for performance or maintenance procedures, even if there were such maintenance procedures available (this was not specified, but there were no written procedures relating to the tank filling operation). One supervisor did request the fitting of a back-up, second IHLS.

The staff on site were under pressure to increase throughput, possibly by dealing with higher volume deliveries where tank capacity was at a premium – and they were doing excessive overtime: with high staff turnover, their competencies and experience were open to question.

Will it happen again?

Howard commented that since Buncefield, there have been two further similar overfilling events. There are 60 sites of this type known around the UK, and the Process Safety Leadership Guide entitled “Safety and environmental standards for fuel storage sites” that is considered mandatory has seen patchy implementation across these sites: some have a schedule, and plan to conform only by 2014.

Automation users to meet policy makers

Automated Britain, the one day London conference to be held on March 6 2012, will provide a unique opportunity for automation users to interface with policy makers in government and industry. Here, Marco Pisano, programme manager of Intellect, argues that the Automated Britain conference, to take place at the Commonwealth Club in London, is one of a number of factors that could herald a renaissance in UK manufacturing. 

Automated systems and processes are an essential part of attracting direct investments and represent a key component for growth to rebalance the British economy. A combination of world-class R&D from the corporate and academic sectors and early adoption of automated technologies by UK manufacturers can accelerate economic recovery in Britain.

Participants at the Automated Britain conference will learn about the government’s manufacturing growth strategy and get an insight into automation strategies and market trends. Steve Brambley, deputy director of GAMBICA says: “Automation users and manufacturers will demonstrate that the economy can be rebalanced by manufacturing, and automation plays a major part in that.

“The government aims to rebalance the economy away from reliance on services and towards industry, which at the moment only stands at 22% of GDP. This contrasts with a European average of 25% and a world average of 31%. The part that the financial sector played in the economic downturn has given Government a desire to be less reliant on services. What we want to show is that automation is a key player in making this rebalancing happen and to make UK business competitive in a global market.”

Automated Britain is a joint initiative between GAMBICA and Intellect and will alert the manufacturing industry, Government and the media to the economic benefits that automation offers. It will also spread best practice by having senior executives from the automation and manufacturing industries jointly present case studies on successful uses of automation to improve competitiveness.

The conference will also explore whether there are any perceived obstacles that discourage industry from making more of this type of investment. Case studies will be presented by manufacturing companies such as Rolls Royce, Kraft Foods, National Grid and Ricoh in tandem with their automation partners ABB, Emerson, Honeywell, Rockwell, PCME and Siemens.

Steve Brambley argues that there are examples where global companies have decided to invest in the UK, and adds: “The conference will positively demonstrate what is happening right now, and what is possible if we join up policy decisions with industry best practice.”

To attend Automated Britain go to www.automatedbritain.co.uk and click book now. GAMBICA and Intellect members, readers of the INSIDER newsletters and invited guests will pay a special rate of only £245 to attend.

Werum PAS-X goes live in Indian pharma plant

The pharmaceutical major, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, is the first Indian company to improve its manufacturing processes by installing an electronic PAS-X Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Dr. Reddy’s opted for Werum’s MES PAS-X to help enhance the quality and compliance and to optimize the efficiency and productivity of its pharmaceutical shop floor processes, and the system has recently gone live with the first implementation phase of the MES system.

Implementing PAS-X forms part of Dr. Reddy’s expansion strategy. The first step, now successfully completed, involved installing PAS-X at one of the company’s FDA and MHRA approved production facilities at Bachupally in Hyderabad.

In its first step, the PAS-X handles and controls the Warehouse Management System, such as receiving, sampling and storing of materials. It also carries out Weighing & Dispensing and Equipment Management operations.

Using mobile terminals, PAS-X coordinates the barcode-controlled process for material tracking and tracing of containers as they travel from the warehouse to the dispensing area. An automated interface allows PAS-X to communicate directly with Dr. Reddy’s ERP (SAP).

The project is being carried out by a team of experienced experts at Werum’s Asia Support Centre with Dr. Reddy’s Internal Core Team.

TRADE WARS, TARIFFS AND INCENTIVES

As American and European Governments try to recover from the recent economic downturns, all face increased pressure to protect home industry and jobs. Barack Obama has promised to double American exports in the next five years, to create 2m good, new jobs. In the UK there has been much discussion about developing new technologies to create modern industries, such as those introducing green- or wind-power.

China emerged fairly unscathed from the global recession, possibly by halting a modest rise in their currency in order to stimulate exports. It has now passed Germany as the world’s largest exporter. It has also surpassed Japan as the biggest lender of business finance, and continues to invest in western businesses. Both the EU and the US have reacted to recent trade imbalances with import restrictions, the EU on shoes, the US on tyres. China has responded by restricting imports of poultry and car parts from the US.

America’s trade deficit and dependence on Chinese credit is now recognised in the US as a national security problem, rather than merely an economic problem. Perhaps most important, poorer countries are also finding it difficult to compete with China’s undervalued currency — Chinese exports to India, Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia have grown by between 30% and 50% recently. So the pressure is growing for China to let their currency rise in value, from many quarters, not least from the Middle East and the Gulf states. Protectionist tariffs are threatening the Gulf petrochemical industry, where recent multi-billion dollar investments in chemical plants have been based on target markets in Asia, comments Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, the secretary general of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association. He explains that Gulf exporters are battling a 21 per cent anti-dumping tariff on Chinese imports from the Gulf of methanol, a basic building block of the chemical industry, in place since last summer, and face new plastics tariffs proposed in India. “The drive behind it is of course the recession and politicians who are trying to safeguard lost job opportunities,” said al Sadoun.

China buys more than 55 per cent of Gulf petrochemical exports, and the market was expected to continue to be the global centre of demand growth. The tariffs imposed by India and China are based on the fact that GCC producers have some of the lowest production costs in the world, because they buy oil or natural gas from their governments at prices set far below international market rates. This was the basis on which the Gulf has built its chemicals industry. “This could lead to trade wars between countries,” he said. “I don’t see a winner in this war, everyone will be losing”, continued Al-Sadoun.

The problem is not just about basic chemicals: look at the so-called emerging high tech products – like wind turbines. China, Germany, Spain, UK and the US vie with others to reap economic and environmental benefits of domestic green-energy sources while positioning themselves as market leaders in providing those technologies to export to the world. Like the UK, China intends to meet 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2020. In 2009, China accounted for more than a third of the world’s wind-capacity installations, more than doubling its cumulative installed capacity for the fourth year in a row. And the country has passed the US to become the world’s largest wind-turbine market. Like the suggested role for the UK, China hopes to become the global production site for green technology. Current Chinese exports to Europe and the US are less than 1 percent of total production, but their producers are poised to become big exporters. China’s success in wind turbine renewable-energy technology was helped by restricting the sale of rare-earth minerals, critical for manufacturing turbines, by blocking export of those metals: China sits on the world’s largest known deposits of these rare-earth minerals.

A recent result of US public criticism last year succeeded in preventing taxpayer stimulus funds being used to buy 240 Chinese-made turbines for a new wind farm in west Texas. The world’s pursuit of low-carbon sources of energy collided with the national need to create jobs: in the end, the public demanded that turbines be produced in the US, not China.

In India too, the world’s fifth-largest user of wind power, investments in this form of renewable energy are expected to continue to grow in the years ahead. Probably to spread their green investments geographically, ABB has just announced its fourth global wind power generator factory, in Vadodara, India. The factory is intended to supply wind power generators, a crucial component in wind turbines, for the growing Indian and global markets. The new factory, employing 150 people, will produce up to 100 units per month with a rating of up to 2.5 megawatts.

Europe also has high renewable-energy ambitions. Germany already gets 16 percent of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind. A new McKinsey & Co. study concludes that “By 2050, Europe could achieve an economy-wide reduction of [greenhouse gas] emissions of at least 80 percent compared to 1990 levels.” McKinsey expects the cost of energy per unit of GDP in 2050 could actually be reduced by 30 percent in Europe, boosting competitiveness. Production of renewable technology could create tens of thousands of new jobs.

PHOTO-VOLTAIC (PV) SOLAR PANELS

In 2008, China also emerged as the largest producer of solar panels in the world, accounting for roughly one-third of total solar shipments. Beijing hopes to increase domestic generation of electricity from solar panels from 3GW in 2010 to 20GW by 2020. But so far growth in Chinese production of solar panels has outstripped the growth of the installed solar capacity in China. The vast majority of solar panels produced in China are exported. Between 2007 and 2008, for example, the value of Chinese exports of solar panels to Europe more than doubled. Sales to the US in 2009 were two-thirds higher than the previous year.

As nations vie for global leadership in the wind, solar and other renewable energy fields, trade disputes are inevitable. In August 2009, two major German solar-technology firms filed a complaint with both the German government and the European Union about government subsidies allegedly given to Chinese competitors.

IMS Research produced a report this month on the costs and prices of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules. In Germany the incentive schemes for installing solar schemes are tailing off, so suppliers are reducing cost prices to maintain their competitive position. In Q2/10, producers drove costs down 8% to $0.74 per watt, citing improved throughput, increased efficiencies and reduced material costs as helping to achieve this: IMS predicts that costs will fall once again in Q3. While factory gate selling prices fall, due to Renminbi/Euro exchange rate issues this has not translated into any decrease in prices to wholesalers, distributors or end-customers. While 82% of PV installations in Q2 were in the Euro zone, all suppliers reported sales and result in different currencies. Currency fluctuations have made the difference. For example, Chinese crystalline cell and module manufacturer, Solarfun, announced last week that its PV module average selling price (ASP) had declined by 6.8% in the second quarter to RMB 11.19/W. However, converted to Euros, the truth is its prices actually rose by 3.1%! IMS still predict 2010 PV module shipments are forecast to increase by an incredible 60% over 2009 to reach 15.6 GW. Beyond 2010 the situation is less clear and questions remain over how the industry will respond to multiple incentive reductions in the largest European markets heading into 2011. A strong consensus is apparent in the market today that we will see another unhealthy drop in demand, with installations in EMEA declining by 80% in Q1/11, compared to 2010.

IMS Research also advises a degree of optimism from First Solar: the thin film supplier recently announced that it planned to construct 500-700 MW of systems in 2011 and boasted a ‘captive pipeline’ of utility-scale business that would buffer any fluctuations in demand. Following its acquisition of project developer NextLight, First Solar plans to begin the construction of a massive 290 MW power plant before the end of 2010 and install modules there throughout 2011. Possibly they have been in discussions with another supplier recently making announcements of this type…….

Solar plants in Sicily

ABB has won an order worth $50m from Actelios SpA in Italy to supply three photovoltaic (PV) solar power plants in western Sicily. The order was booked in the second quarter, 2010. The plants will have fixed PV modules and a total power capacity of over 13 megawatts (MW). The main plant will be erected in Spinasanta with a capacity of 6 MW. Additional smaller plants will be built at Cardonita and Sugherotorto.

Once connected to the grid, the plants will supply around 19 GWhpa of renewable electric power. This will help avoid the generation of more than 9,400 tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to the annual emissions of about 3,900 fuel efficient cars. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.The short installation time will be facilitated by ABB’s modular eBoP (electrical balance of plant) concept. By pre-assembling individual components of the plant’s electrical systems and testing them prior to delivery, on-site installation and commissioning is fast and simple, reducing costs and project risk.

The turnkey project includes design, engineering, supply and commissioning of the power plants, as well as the medium-voltage distribution link that will connect the plants to the national grid. ABB will supply transformers, medium- and low-voltage switchgear, protection devices and an advanced control system, with remote control and diagnostic capability, to optimize operations and ensure maximum efficiency. “Renewable energies like solar play an increasingly important role in adding power capacity with minimal environmental impact, and ABB has a significant technology portfolio to harness and integrate these energies into the grid,” said Peter Leupp, head of ABB’s Power Systems division.

SonTek/YSI doppler flow sales hike

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 earmarked $14.6 million to the US Geological Survey for upgrades to its 7,500-station national streamgauge network, and in
direct response, USGS has purchased $3.4 million dollars worth of hi-technology electro-acoustic instruments from San Diego-based SonTek/YSI, for use in their national water monitoring programs.

In addition to the popular FlowTracker and Argonaut products, the order also included 33 of the award winning, multi-frequency RiverSurveyor S5/M9 systems. The acoustic Doppler instruments will be used for water velocity measurement in streams, rivers and canals to help provide critical information used to estimate flood dangers, protect fragile ecosystems, construct safe bridges and roadways, and monitor the effects of climate change on water availability.

“The need for rapid and accurate water flow data is not just a need in the USA” said Chris Ward, SonTek/YSI Director of Global Business development: “Over half of our products are exported overseas to water-stressed parts of the world such as China, India, and Australia.” The USGS collects streamflow information to determine how much water is available in different locations across the nation.  Because the effects of climate change on water availability could become a critical issue in certain regions of the nation, accurate long-term streamflow information is necessary to determine how water managers can respond and adapt to these changes.

Wireless committees get their wires crossed

The long running saga of the ISA 100.11a wireless standard took a further intriguing turn in Orlando, Florida last month when a number of related sub-committees met alongside the ARC forum. Perhaps the most significant meeting was that considering the results of the “Nice Use Case Analysis Project”, so called because it originated at a meeting in Nice, France in 2008 (pleasant places these meetings have to be held in!).

Missing elements

Funded by Shell Global Solutions, the analysis considered just one use case – that of a temperature transmitter sensing sea temperature and displaying it ashore – and only looked at about a third of the complete ISA 100.11a specification. Nevertheless it is understood to have come up with more than a dozen elements of the standard which were either missing, didn’t work or conflicted with other elements. What’s so interesting about these findings, apart from the suggestion that the standard, as approved in August of 2009, is incomplete and potentially unworkable, is that they relate back directly to issues raise by the appeal against its ratification made by, among others, Walt Boyes of CONTROL magazine, Sicco Dwars of Shell Global Solutions and Frederick Enns of Dust Networks. That is hardly surprising, perhaps, as no doubt supporters of the standard will be quick to point out, since Dwars was apparently responsible for initiating the Nice use case project and Enns was one of those involved in conducting the analysis and made the presentation on it at the Orlando meeting. Readers will recall that it was rejection of that appeal by ISA on the grounds that it was submitted after the deadline which led to the failure of the America National Standards Institute (ANSI) to accept the standard at its November 2009 meeting (INSIDER, January 2010, page 5). Supporters of that appeal are now arguing that the Nice use case analysis confirms what they had been arguing all along, namely that by failing to follow their own procedures correctly when assessing technical comments on the standard prior to its final ratification they allowed previously identified deficiencies and inconsistencies to remain in the final document.

Face saving

Ironically, however, these latest developments look as if they may provide ISA with a face saving solution to the dilemma posed by ANSI’s insistence that the appeal be heard. While nobody is going to admit that there is anything wrong with the existing version of the standard, the word on the Orlando street is that ISA 100.11a will undergo “maintenance” over the coming months to render it “more robust” and that the resultant revised document will then be put out to ballot in time for it to be released in the early autumn, ideally at the new ISA Automation Week event in Houston in October. The beauty of this solution is that, while it tacitly overcomes the original objections, it obviates the need to hear the appeal since it will be a new, rather than the original, document which will eventually be submitted to ANSI and which should therefore meet with that body’s unqualified approval – assuming, of course, that ISA manages to follow its own procedures correctly this time around.

ISA100.12 efforts

Meanwhile, also meeting at Orlando was ISA 100.12, the sub-committee charged with finding a way to converge ISA 100.11a with WirelessHART. Logically one would expect that any sign of further delay in finalizing the ISA standard, which can only increase WirelessHART’s already substantial lead, would encourage efforts to accelerate the convergence project, not least because, as Gary Mintchell of Automation World reported in his own ‘Feed Forward’ blog, “… a panel of practitioners at one session at the ARC Forum uniformly pleaded for a single wireless standard.” Mintchell’s own assessment of the current state of the convergence project is blunt in the extreme. “… attempts to rationalize the differences between the two standards appear to be dead,” he says. And he’s not alone in pointing out that while the HART Foundation has been repeatedly criticized for being a ‘pay-to-play’ supplier consortium, dominated as many believe, or at least find it convenient to suggest, by a single supplier, Emerson, the ISA’s own wireless activities, which purport to be user driven, are in fact increasingly being identified with Honeywell and the chip supplier Nivis. If all that’s giving you a feeling of déjà vu, it’s probably because you’re being reminded of such alleged but largely spurious past red herrings as Rockwell-DeviceNet, Siemens-Profibus and Emerson – Foundation fieldbus or even, if your memory stretches back far enough, IBM -Token Ring and Xerox/DEC-Ethernet!

This article was published in the Industrial Automation Insider in the issue dated March 2010, and on the web in September 2011.