The value of Specialist Automation Suppliers

Engineers around the world are looking at how to benefit from the various solutions to the IIOT on offer: the article posted on 2 February entitled “How DCS Vendors see their IIOT future” covered the approaches being adopted by some of the major DCS vendors. This follow-up article, written for and first published in South Africa, in the Technews South African Instrumentation & Control Journal, March 2017, covers the approach of some of the smaller, specialist suppliers to their own selected sectors of the process industries.

While the major DCS suppliers try to work out how to provide revenue earning services from the growth of the IIOT, there are many specialist engineering product and systems suppliers who are investing in making their products easier for engineers to use in networks, and operate within the IIOT.

Most of these specialists are primarily focussed on the production of their valves, sensors, controllers or drives: this is their business – and they need their products to work with any interface the customer requires. Their expertise in interfacing their own products is the best available, they have an in-house systems knowledge base and capability. Most now offer this capability to their would-be product users as a service – offering a custom designed system incorporating the products. So look to these suppliers to offer the best engineering at an economic price, within their specialist field.

Typically these single-minded companies were set up by a design engineer with a good original product idea, and this has been developed and refined over the years. Often the company is family owned – and engineering / R&D investment takes precedence over profit distribution. Some such companies still exist in the USA, and a few in the UK, like JCB and Rolls Royce. Several specialist engineering product examples are found in suppliers originating from Germany, Scandinavia and middle Europe, where the culture seems to have encouraged their survival.

Beckhoff Automation

Arnold Beckhoff started his company in 1953: Beckhoff Automation now has a turnover of Euro 620 million, and employs 3350 people. The company implements open automation systems based on PC control technology, scalable from high performance Industrial PCs to mini PLCs, I/O and fieldbus components, plus drive technology and automation software. Supplying systems to many industries, Beckhoff works with and supplies components for over 15 major fieldbus systems. Motion control solutions solve single and multiple axis positioning tasks, and their servomotors offer combined power and feedback over a standard motor cable.

The Beckhoff TwinCAT 3 engineering and control automation software integrates real-time control with PLC, NC and CNC functions in a single package, and then all Beckhoff controllers are programmed using TwinCAT in accordance with IEC 61131-3. While the built-in TwinCAT condition monitoring libraries allow the on-site controllers to monitor the status of the sensors, to reduce downtime and maintenance costs, it also allows wider comparisons with connections to such cloud services as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. Other data connections are available, for example a smartphone app enables immediate local and mobile display of a machine‘s alarm and status messages.

Bürkert Fluid Control Systems

Bürkert was founded in 1946 by Christian Bürkert: it now has sales of Euro 412 million and employs over 2500 people. The product base is gas and liquid control valves, systems for measuring and controlling gases and liquids, plus sensors for monitoring such fluids, extending to complete automation solutions and fluid systems – this capability is known as their ‘Systemhaus’. While their products are now applied across many industries, their particular specialisations have been in sanitary, sterile and hygienic applications (food, beverage, biotech and pharmaceuticals), micro applications (medical, inkjet and beverage mixing/vending), and water treatment industries.

From the UK operation, Bürkert provide locally engineered solutions and systems for their pharma, food and brewery customers in particular. Locally made craft beers are a major growth area in the UK, and most start small, with no real automation. One example was Stroud Brewery, who needed to expand production by a factor of 5x, and preferably not increase their staff numbers: Bürkert designed a PLC system and intelligent control panel, which automated the temperature control of the cold and hot liquor tanks, and in the mash pan. In addition a system for controlling the run-off rate from the mash tun simply uses three separate Bürkert level sensors.

Bürkert also have developed their own ‘Device Cloud’, they call this ‘mySITE’. This collects data from Bürkert sensors around the world, using an on-site interface known as mxConnect – which can also accept data inputs from other sensors.

National Instruments

National Instruments was only started in 1976, in the USA, by Dr James Truchard and a colleague, who are still involved in the business. Now sales are $1320 million, and they have 7400 employees worldwide. Their declared Mission is to “equip scientists and engineers with systems that accelerate productivity, innovation, and discovery” – and their focus has always been to supply research establishments and engineers with open, software-centric platforms with modular, expandable hardware. This gives its own logistics problems, with 35,000 customers served annually.

It is difficult for me, as an outside observer, to relate the NI systems to an oil refinery or chemical plant application: but it comes into its own when the data handling grows in complexity – for example in pharmaceutical and biotech applications, and the sort of plants where engineers have a major input in monitoring the application. Mention cyclotron or Tokomak, CERN or the Large Hadron Collider, and NI and its LabView are embedded in their engineering control systems. All 108 collimators on the LHC are position controlled using LabView.

National Grid UK, which controls the distribution and transmission of electric power round the country, has adopted a control system based on the NI CompactRIO for the whole network. With many new power generating sources, HVDC connections, variable inputs from solar and wind farms, and the phasing out of major fossil fuelled plants, National Grid found that traditional measurement systems did not offer adequate coverage or response speed to handle these new challenges and risks. They adopted a platform, based on the CompactRIO, to provide more measurements – and also adapt with the evolving grid for generations to come. This interconnected network includes 136 systems, with 110 permanently installed in substations throughout England and Wales and 26 portable units that provide on-the-go spot coverage as needed.  The associated software systems provide their engineers with customized measurement solutions that can be upgraded in the future as new grid modernization challenges arise.

In terms of IoT developments, NI has just opened an Industrial IoT lab at the NI Austin HQ in the USA, to focus on intelligent systems that connect operational technology, information technology and the companies working on these systems. Many other companies are co-operating in this venture, like Cisco and SparkCognition, and the lab intends to foster such collaboration to improve overall interoperability. In addition NI has partnered with IBM and SparkCognition to collaborate on a condition monitoring and predictive maintenance testbed: this will use the SparkCognition cognitive analytics to proactively avoid unplanned equipment fatigue and failure of critical assets.

(c) Nick Denbow 2017

KROHNE emphasises networking R+D with new CTO Attila Bilgic

The Advisory Board of the Krohne Group has appointed Dr Ing Attila Bilgic as CTO and Managing Director of Ludwig Krohne GmbH & Co KG. He assumes global responsibility for research and development (R+D) and extends the managing board of the Krohne Group alongside the existing Directors, Michael Rademacher-Dubbick and Stephan Neuburger.

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New Krohne CTO Dr Attila Bilgic

Dr Bilgic’s main task is the “digitization” of the Krohne measuring devices and measuring systems, their networking and their integration amongst themselves, as well as with and into the digital systems of the users. The area of “smart sensors”, which Krohne has already pioneered with various research projects under his leadership, is also of particular significance. With more than 350 employees, The Krohne Group currently employs about 10% of all staff in research and development, with more than 350 R+D employees and a budget of approximately 8% of the total group turnover (in 2015 the turnover was approximately EURO 500 million).

The topic of networking has been the major topic in the previous career of Dr. Bilgic: prior to joining Krohne, he held various positions in the “Communication Solutions” division of Infineon Technologies AG from 2000 to 2009, most recently as Director of System Engineering. From 2007 to 2009, he was head of the Department of Integrated Systems at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Since 2016, he has been a member of the board of the VDI / VDE Society of Measuring and Automation Technology. He is also a member of the German Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Training on Profibus, Profinet and IO-Link in Industrial Automation

A highly informative training day will address the key practical issues arising from the use of these digital communications technologies in automated manufacturing applications. The event is free of charge, and will be held from 0900 to 1530 on 29th March in Manchester, UK. On 30th March there will be a similar FOC event for users in the Process and Hybrid industries.

With particular emphasis on Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things, the event will cover the use of Profibus, Profinet and IO-Link in key application areas such as utilities, pharmaceutical, packaging, printing, electrical and electronics assembly, robotics, automotive engineering, mechanical handling and logistics, control systems and energy management, from system design and safety considerations through to maintenance and fault-finding.

Supported by demonstrations of actual tools used in configuration and maintenance, the seminar will be of great value to Designers, Production/System Engineers, Instrument Technicians/Engineers and C&I Engineers involved in design, operation and maintenance of modern automated factories and process plant.

The presentations include:

Introduction of Exhibitor stands and Profibus & Profinet Update, by Mark Freeman: Profibus DP – Successful Commissioning and Maintenance, by Dave Tomlin: EMC and Equipotential Bonding in Profibus and Profinet networks, and EN503102016, by Peter Thomas: PROFIsafe as a tool for Safety in Automation and Control Networks,by Peter Brown; Designing a Profinet system, by Andy Verwer: Profibus system engineering and monitoring, by Andy Verwer: Profinet for IoT, IIoT and Industry 4.0, by Derek Lane: The Features and Benefits of IO-Link, by Russell Smith.

Coffee breaks and lunch will be provided, for delegates also to visit the Exhibition of relevant equipment.

This seminar is ably presented by network specialists from member companies of PI UK, the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to support of advanced manufacturing technologies for the benefit of UK industry. Attendance is free of charge to pre-registered delegates from the user community, i.e. companies that own, operate, design, build or maintain automated plant. The event will provide delegates with an excellent networking opportunity and the ability to speak to the varied experts from the PI UK membership.

For more information please contact PI UK, or send an email enquiry. Online registration is now open.

For companies in the Process & Hybrid Industries …

Companies involved in the Process Industries may be interested to attend another of the PI UK events, to be held in Manchester the following day, March 30th. Entitled Practical Aspects of Profibus and Profinet in Process, the event specifically addresses the key issues involved in the use of advanced network communications in Process and Hybrid Industry applications.

More information on this event is available here, or send an email enquiry.

Ethernet added to Emerson Coriolis meter

J943 coriolisAdditionally, the transmitter incorporates a configurable I/O channel, which can be used as a discrete input or set to a mA, frequency or discrete output. This enables powerful application options with minimal equipment. For example, the discrete input can be used as a totaliser reset, the discrete output can control a valve in conjunction with the integrated batch control software, the frequency output enables a quick connection for proving applications, or the mA output can be used to tie into existing or legacy control systems.

The Ethernet upgrade is available with multiple protocol choices including EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP, and Profinet.

To speed integration and connection with Ethernet/IP systems, the transmitter contains an EDS (electronic data sheet) file for fast access to instrument information with little to no manual setup. This also enables automatic AOP (add-on profile) generation for quick and powerful system integration. Pre-configured input assemblies allow users to select exactly what is needed from a wealth of information in a Coriolis meter, without burdening the network with unwanted traffic.

“The Micro Motion Model 5700 Coriolis transmitter has delivered proven value and unique differentiation to users. The rugged housing is certified for tough field environments, including extensive hazardous area certifications and approvals. The housing was engineered to provide easy access for installation, mounting, and maintenance,” said Jason Leapley, product manager. “Now, with the option for native Ethernet, users can easily access process information without going out to the instrument.”

ProcessingTalk.info readers will be aware that Endress+Hauser has used Ethernet on their Coriolis meters since the 2011 Rockwell Automation Fair: their unit was launched in about 2010.

(c) ProcessingTalk.info

T24 Wireless Telemetry Sensor System from Mantracourt

Mantracourt of Exeter has launched a new, upgraded version of its T24 wireless telemetry sensor system for multiple data acquisition in real time. The latest improvements include a 4x increase in transmission range, improved security features and smarter diagnostics.
Listening to the needs of OEMs and integrators who require a system designed to suit the many and varied applications they encounter, modularity is the key feature of the T24: it can easily replace wired data collection systems, reducing both installation and maintenance cost and complexity.
Latest upgrades include an increase in transmission range, allowing the system to transmit data up to 800 m (1/2 mile), far exceeding the range of other systems on the market. For added security, always a concern with wireless systems, Mantracourt has improved the existing toolkit software to enable users to assign security keys to the system and have also improved functionality to allow smarter diagnostics. New features include improved monitoring of the channels and as well as the ability to check radio link quality, execute commands and view and alter parameters.
Engineers at Mantracourt have also redesigned the integrated radio module and antennae to improve signal strength and integrity resulting in improved performance and coverage in the challenging environments where the systems are often used.
The system comprises a range of transmitters, interfaces, displays and output modules that can be simply and easily configured to suit individual applications. The transmitter modules have been designed to collect data from a huge range of industrial sensors including load, pressure, torque, strain, temperature, pulse, potentiometer and 4-20 mA/0-10 V conditioned sensors. The T24 still offers the original exceptional performance, including high measurement/low noise electronics, long battery life of up to 5 years and proprietary license-free 2.4 GHz DSSS radio technology.
To further add to the versatility of T24, Mantracourt is also providing free data logging and visualisation software. This allows users to log up to 100 channels and build visual mapping displays. Alarms can be set that can indicate under and over range and can alert users to loss in communication, low battery and error reports. In recognition that we now work in an increasingly mobile world, Mantracourt has also included a built in web server that provides a summary view page to other computers, tablets and smart phones, both Apple and Android.
See the Mantracourt T24 system on http://www.mantracourt.com.
mantracourt

GasSecure sold to Dräger

The Norwegian venture‐backed company GasSecure AS has been sold to Dräger Holding International GmbH for approximately 500 mNOK ($61m). The company will strengthen Dräger’s portfolio within gas detection, with the newly developed wireless gas detector for the oil and gas industry. The sale is the proof of GasSecure’s success both in the market and as a venture backed investment.

Stefan Dräger, Executive Board Chairman of Dräger, and Knut Sandven, CEO of GasSecure

Stefan Dräger, Executive Board Chairman of Dräger,
and Knut Sandven, CEO of GasSecure

GasSecure was founded by Knut Sandven and SINTEF in 2008, based on core technology from SINTEF, with R&D Director Håkon Sagberg joining the company in 2009, and has been financially supported by Viking Venture, Investinor, ProVenture Seed and SINTEF since 2010.

Chairman of the Board, Eivind Bergsmyr from lead investor Viking Venture commented: ‐ “Dräger is in our opinion the ideal buyer for GasSecure. They have the capability and distribution power to scale the unique and promising products of GasSecure with their worldwide distribution network. Dräger understands how to develop an innovative company further and has been willing to offer a competitive price acknowledging the outstanding achievements”.

Continues as a separate company

Dräger will continue to keep GasSecure with its 11 employees as a separate company under the leadership of founder and CEO, Knut Sandven: “We are truly impressed by Mr Sandven and his team and what they have achieved so far, and want to make sure we integrate this capability into the Dräger organization in a tailored and effective way”, says Dräger Executive Vice President M&A, Brigitte Dautzenberg. GasSecure’s products and technology are successfully field proven in the harshest offshore environments and climates from Alaska, the North Sea and Australia being bought by major global operators. The GasSecure product offering provides extended detection coverage, exceptional safety and cost performance to operators. This has become even more important with the current cost focus in the oil sector.

Natural next step

GasSecure CEO Knut Sandven commented on the change in ownership as a natural step in expanding the GasSecure influence and success further:‐ “Growing a startup from first concept to a successful company with global reach means going through different phases. The venture companies were perfect owners in the startup phase with their continuous support, commitment and experience. Now it is all about distribution, support and scaling where a prime industrial brand such as Dräger is the best partner we could ever imagine. This is a huge recognition of our innovative technology, the GasSecure team, and our vision for new, revolutionary products”.

GasSecure has been regularly featured in the INSIDER Newsletter, since the first mention of their novel wireless hydrocarbon gas detector at an Invensys OpsManage meeting back in 2011. Last mention was in July 2014, when a deal was announced with Yokogawa for joint marketing of ISA100 wireless systems using the GasSecure gas detectors.

Ex ic – Intrinsic Safety’s New Protection

The following is a press release which is actually from MTL Instruments, about a new Whitepaper describing Ex ic. So it is worth reading: don’t be put off by the corporate speak of the first paragraph!

Power management company Eaton has released a new whitepaper, Ex ic – Intrinsic Safety’s New Protection Level, that helps users and manufacturers understand more about Ex ic, the new intrinsic safety protection level for electrical apparatus in flammable environments. The paper is authored by Phil Saward, training and technical consultant, within Eaton’s Crouse-Hinds Division. Phil Saward has 25 years’ experience in hazardous area products and applications and has served time on various Foundation fieldbus.

The paper is available to download directly from http://www.mtl-inst.com/white-papers.

“The concept of a third level of protection for intrinsic safety has existed for several decades,” said Phil Saward. “Only in recent years has it been formally adopted into the major standards systems in common use worldwide. Meanwhile, other methods of protection have filled the gap. In particular, Ex nL has provided a workable, but somewhat loosely defined alternative until its recent withdrawal from international standards. The paper therefore covers the essential differences between Ex ic and Ex nL, and discusses the pros and cons of the two.

The whitepaper deals primarily with the impact on countries that follow IEC and ATEX practice – but there are parallels with the ‘non-incendive’ technique that is adopted in North America. The paper is aimed at those who are familiar with the principles of explosion protection for electrical apparatus, but will also appeal to readers who are responsible for compliance to the ATEX Directive and relevant IEC standards.

Topics covered include: What is Ex ic?; The position of Ex ic in the Intrinsic Safety family; Changes to the IEC standards; Why things are changing now; Background and links to the ATEX directive.

One of the most helpful elements of the whitepaper is the inclusion of a case study which demonstrates how the new Ex ic standard can fundamentally change the design of a Foundation fieldbus network, compared with implementations that were based on the Ex n standards. This practical illustration will help readers understand the potential impact in terms of network design and hardware selection.