Deutsche Telekom and Endress+Hauser co-operate over 5G data @ProcessingTalk

With its campus networks, Deutsche Telekom offers an infrastructure for the smart factory of tomorrow. Together with partners from industry, Europe’s largest telecommunications company wants to further expand its 5G ecosystem for industry. In the process automation sector, Deutsche Telekom is now co-operating with Endress+Hauser.

The aim of the co-operation is to develop joint offers in the field of measurement and automation technology for the process industry. This involves the integration of measuring instruments and accessories into the next generation of mobile communication networks, as well as the development of digital services based on them. Both companies have signed a corresponding memorandum of understanding and are now working on a co-ordinated timetable.

Measuring instruments with a mobile communication module

Endress+Hauser is one of the first manufacturers to equip its field devices with mobile communication modules and to connect existing installations to 5G networks – via newly developed HART gateways. This enables a large number of instruments to transmit a wealth of process and device data in parallel and in real time. These can, for example, be used in cloud applications for the predictive maintenance of process plants.

Campus networks open second signal path

“In addition to the actual measured values, our instruments record a wealth of information from the process and about the sensor,” said Matthias Altendorf, CEO of Endress+Hauser. “5G campus networks open up a second signal path that is independent of the main plant control system: this makes it possible to separately tap this potential. This will enable E+H to link value chains more closely across company boundaries and make industrial processes more efficient.”

Strong partners for smart production

“Building a complete 5G ecosystem for industry will accelerate the pace of digitalization in industry,” explains Claudia Nemat, member of the Deutsche Telekom Board of Management, Technology and Innovation. “We look forward to working with renowned and experienced partners.” In addition to the partnership with network supplier Ericsson, the telecommunications company now also cooperates with E&K Automation, a manufacturer of driverless transport systems, and Konica Minolta, which offers augmented reality glasses, among other products.

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Yokogawa acquires RAP International

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Process Gas Analyser for CEM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Electrocomponents plc buys Monition, adds to RS

Electrocomponents plc has today completed the acquisition of Monition, the UK-based pioneer in the design, development and application of condition monitoring systems. Monition is based in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, and will become an operating brand within the RS Technical Services operation.

Monition provides managed services in areas such as condition monitoring, predictive maintenance and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to improve their customers’ reliability, operability and maintainability. Originally founded in 1988 by Ian Jennings, Monition has more than 30 years of operational knowledge and expertise in the reliability and condition-monitoring sector, developed in co-operation with European and UK governments, leading Universities and industry specialists. It has well-established relationships within the maintenance functions in a range of blue chip clients, particularly within the food and beverage sector.

“The acquisition of Monition supports our strategy of building a range of differentiated value-added solutions such as connected factory and IIoT solutions for our customers,” said Pete Malpas, Managing Director of RS Northern Europe. “Whilst we already have an extensive range of customer solutions including calibration, eProcurement and inventory management solutions, we believe that the Monition portfolio will enable us to provide our customer base with the intelligent solutions they need to maintain their operations more effectively and as such will bring us closer to becoming first choice for our customers. We are thrilled to welcome Monition to RS and the Electrocomponents Group.”

Mike Burrows, Managing Director of Monition, commented: “We are extremely excited to become part of RS and the broader Electrocomponents Group. We share a common vision to deliver high-quality, innovative maintenance solutions to our customers. Being part of a larger Group will bring Monition benefits of scale and additional resources, which will help us accelerate the design and development of cutting-edge maintenance engineering solutions to address Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing needs.”

Monition will retain its trading name and, as part of RS, will benefit from the financial strength, scale and international spread of the broader Electrocomponents Group.

Electrocomponents is listed on the London Stock Exchange and in the last financial year ended 31 March 2018 had revenues of £1.71Bn.

The European Scene

The German organisation Profibus & Profinet International (PI) publishes annual statistics on the numbers of devices installed with interfaces equipped with their communication technologies, which also include ProfiSafe and IO-Link. The trend towards Profinet increased in 2017, with 4.5 million new nodes installed, an increase of 25% on the previous year figure, which brings the total number installed to 21 million. Possibly because of the rise in Profinet systems, the Profibus DP numbers added seem to have reached a plateau over recent years, with a population of 60 million.

Profibus PA and ProfiSafe node numbers are growing strongly in the process automation field, with the ProfiSafe adoption growing 25% in the year, adding 2m nodes to reach 9 million in total. Similarly IO-Link device numbers installed in the year increased 50%, adding 2.8m to achieve a population of 8.1 million, linking sensors and actuators to a PLC as a subsidiary network below the fieldbus/Profinet level. PI recently published an IO-Link wireless specification, and demonstrated the technology at the Hanover Trade Show earlier this year.

Government Interferences

Legislative rulings have affected businesses and consumers across the EU recently, with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) causing avalanches of email asking for a subscriber’s permission to be re-registered with every firm they have ever dealt with, to allow them to record the fact. Even companies from outside the EU will face financial penalties, if they send out emailed newsletters or promotional messages into EU subscribers, without having these permissions confirmed, registered and recorded!

In the USA, the EPA, under the Trump administration, has dropped most of the more Draconian measures that they had originally proposed to impose on chemical plants, after the explosion at West Fertilizers in Texas that killed 15 fire-fighters and injured 260 people. The CSB report on the incident also listed 19 other Texas facilities that store large amounts of Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser, and are located within half a mile of a school, hospital or nursing home. One regulation that will be introduced in Texas is that local fire marshals will inspect all sites storing ammonium nitrate, once a year. Hopefully this might help prevent any further explosions that might result in large off- site consequences.

The changes that were proposed by the EPA and that will not now be introduced include (1) the need to evaluate options for safer technology and procedures that would mitigate hazards; (2) the requirement to conduct a root-cause analysis after a catastrophic chemical release or potential release incident; and (3) performing a third-party compliance audit after an accident at a plant involving the release or potential release of chemicals.

In the UK, Barclays Bank, rather than the Government, is reassuring UK exporters worried about Brexit and trading afterwards, with a survey that shows 39% of International customers would be more inclined to buy a product if it displayed the Union Jack. This was especially true for consumers in Asia and the Middle East (India, 67%; UAE, 62%; China, 61%), and also for younger consumers generally, where nearly half said this would encourage them to make a purchase. For over 55 year olds (who maybe had more life experience) the figure dropped to a quarter. It’s all statistics!)

Research projects

Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen was first demonstrated by Fujishima and Honda using a titanium dioxide electrode. Since then, scientists have been on the hunt for the ideal material to perform the task, as Hydrogen is a very useful, green fuel for portable power. Now, a team from Exeter University has made a significant hydrogen energy breakthrough, developing an electrode that splits water using only light. The photo-electrode, which is made from nanoparticles of lanthanum, iron and oxygen, absorbs light before initialising electrochemical transformations to extract hydrogen from water. The team is currently working on further improving this material to
make it more efficient, to produce more hydrogen.

At the Drives & Controls Exhibition in the UK this year all the motor manufacturers were showing the condition monitoring capabilities of their offering, usually measured by vibration monitoring sensors. Possibly ABB went one step further, showing a sensor assembly that can be attached to almost any low-voltage motor, existing or on a new project. Transmitting information over Bluetooth, the sensors require no wiring, and are attached directly to the motor’s frame. Within the unit, sensors collect vital data points like vibration, sound and temperature, and upload that information via an ABB gateway or Smartphone to the cloud, where it is analysed. The results are sent back for optimising performance and predictive maintenance, just like a roving maintenance engineer!

This article was written for the July issue of the South African Journal of Instrumentation and Control, published by technews.co.za

Plant control systems and the internet

The following is my personal view of the business planning quandary faced by the major automation companies, first expressed in a Comment page published by Technews.co.za in the South African Journal of Instrumentation and Control, SAIC, March 2018 issue:

It is a common saying that the pace of technology change accelerates with time: although possibly as the observers get older, they become set in their ways, and cannot keep up.

This is certainly true, in my experience: I am getting older, set in my ways, and struggle to keep up. However:

It is not only the pace of such changes, but the speed at which the changes are spread across the ‘world market’, that makes new technologies so rapidly applied and, sometimes, profitable. In consumer markets, the effect is most evident, with the spread of mobile phones and mobile computing: possibly this would all not have come to pass without the availability of the Internet fuelling the spread of information. But for automation, and industrial sensors, has the technology change been rapid? I believe it has, and believe it is now accelerating ever faster, taking advantage of the advances made to meet the demands of other users. This has been evident, and mentioned in these columns, in referring to wireless sensors, batteries for self-powered devices, and self-power from solar or vibration or heat energy. There are many more developments that should be included in that list.

The problem for Automation companies

But how are the major sensor and automation companies driving this growth into their businesses using advances in technology: what are they researching? Where are they investing to get a business advantage? I think that their business planners are having a difficult time at the moment.

Around ten years ago, the big new technology coming to the fore was wireless communication from battery powered sensors. The large automation companies, like Emerson and Honeywell, invested heavily into this technology, and there was the inevitable confrontation between two rival systems – WirelessHart and ISA100. The automation marketplace thrives on such confrontations, for example the spat between Foundation Fieldbus and Profibus. It happens in other markets too; think of Blu-Ray and standard DVDs, PAL and NTSC TV systems etc.

Other perceived growth areas

After the wireless investments blossomed, the Internet was looming, and everyone believed they had to take advantage of the data that could be collected, and networked. Certainly Emerson and ABB went heavily into power network control systems, but ABB had major product availability and systems installation capability in the power industry and has made real progress. Emerson eventually sold out of this network power business, but retains the Ovation DCS used for thermal power station control on site.

Automation companies also bought into the long-established, relatively dormant and slow market of condition monitoring systems, by acquiring the companies quoted to be ‘active’ in the field, who had the ‘black art’ knowledge of industrial condition monitoring. Personal experience, back in the ‘70s, has taught me what a hard sell and difficult market even the simpler condition monitors offer, monitoring bearing wear etc, and that hardly suits the major project potential that might be of interest to big contractors. Complex systems, such as those applied to turbines in power stations, did offer potential, but needed real specialist back-up.

Additionally, the people in the business, such as Schaeffler perhaps (once again the product suppliers with the customer base), slowly developed their own bearing monitoring systems, ranging from portable hand-held units to bigger wired/wireless systems – these are the ones that I believe will succeed in this market. An alternative approach adopted was based on wireless technology developments, which needed a central monitoring system, the ultimate goal for the automation guys. Sensors for steam trap monitoring were designed by majors such as Emerson, to expand their plant control systems into condition monitoring for the plant engineers.

Sure enough, after a slower start, steam trap companies such as Anderson (US) and Spirax Sarco (UK) developed their own systems, and had the market entry with the customers using their traps. The opposite approach was adopted by Yokogawa, which is the pioneer of ISA100 industrial wireless systems. They created alliances with people like Bently Nevada, the bearing condition monitoring sensor people, and with Spirax Sarco on steam traps. Maybe this was to be able to reverse sell them the back-up products and technology for wireless systems, or maybe to hope for the potential of a plant monitoring control system supply.

Software systems

Most of the automation majors have alliances with the large software and computing companies, like Cisco and HP. The current approach seems to be to use these alliances to piggy-back a 24/7 plant monitoring system using the Internet, supplied as a service across the world. Again, I believe the companies with the product on the ground, the stuff that needs monitoring, will be the major players. Here it looks like GE, monitoring its own brands of refrigeration compressors, large pumps and gas turbines at power stations and offshore etc. are best placed.

The future

The quandary is where the Internet will help the industrial control systems and sensor suppliers expand their businesses in the future. The answer deduced above is stick to what you know and what you are known for. The irony is that the major with the best potential now is Rockwell Automation, with its systems based around Ethernet communications, interfacing with anything, plus their onsite Ethernet hardware, with control systems already configured to deal with such varied inputs. Maybe this was why Emerson made an abortive take-over offer for Rockwell late last year. The potential has also been seen by Profibus, who are pushing forwards with their Profinet, and where they go, Siemens will always be in the background.

ABB automation increases capacity 10x for Tate & Lyle food additive plant

When Tate & Lyle acquired Biovelop, a Swedish manufacturer of oat based food ingredients in 2013, the factory in Kimstad, Sweden was modernized and expanded by installing automation systems, variable speed drives, motors, motor control cabinets  and valve positioners from ABB Automation. In 2016 the remodeled plant celebrated the first anniversary of operations with the new systems and significantly increased production capacity.

The global market for specialty food ingredients, including health and wellness products, is growing, with annual sales of $51 billion and annual growth rate of 4-5%. Oat ingredients have been actively involved with this trend as they offer some key nutritional and functional benefits. In particular, oat contains beta glucan, a soluble fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce post prandial glycaemic response – claims that have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In fact, it was these properties of the grain that made the sector an attractive one to Tate & Lyle, and triggered the decision to diversify its portfolio into this sector.

“We have seen a more than tenfold increase in capacity with the same number of shift operators compared to four years ago,” said Annika Werneman, Tate & Lyle plant manager. “It’s a huge change in such a short time, and it means that we’ve gone from a low-level facility to one that can deliver high quality product to our customers globally.”

Advanced automation technologies in the plant run critical food processing equipment -including pumps and decanters: material handling machinery is also used to transport the dry food products. ABB delivered automation equipment that included 85 variable speed drives (VSDs), with power ratings ranging from 0.37 kW to 55 kW, as well as ABB MNS 3.0 motor control cabinets and low voltage motors. ABB also delivered 44 Digital Electro pneumatic positioners (TZID-C) , which use the Hart protocol to communicate with the control valves.

“We needed a process that was highly automated and could run 24 hours, seven days a week, all year long,” Werneman continued. This meant building a system that enabled Tate & Lyle engineers to digitally interact with the system, commission (start) devices, and diagnose performance deviations or failures from anywhere in the world. This not only helps ensure operational consistency, but also reduce the total cost of ownership by enabling staff to manage the processes without being physically present at each site.

Such interactivity was enabled by the ABB fieldbus automation for the drive controls, providing flexibility as well as remote monitoring of the plant performance. “I like that ABB designed the system so that the fieldbus responsible for device control is split from the fieldbus used for asset management,” explained Leo Dijkstra, power & controls team leader Europe at Tate & Lyle. “This ensures that I can make any changes to the configuration of the devices without the risk of the whole network going down.”

At Tate & Lyle, they place great importance not just on what they do, but how they do it. “We are working continuously wherever we can to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations,” said Dijkstra. ABB was well placed to help as it has developed a portfolio of products and solutions that improve industrial energy efficiency.

“In our pump applications alone, we are using up to 50 percent less energy thanks to the variable speed drives, and these have been running non-stop for the last two years without a single failure,” Dijkstra continued. “What’s more, ABB was so quick to deliver products that we even had the first VSD delivered in just a few days.”

Although the nearest ABB support is only a ten-minute drive away from the Kimstad factory, the fieldbus flexibilities in the drives enable Tate & Lyle to rely on its own staff to handle the ABB equipment remotely. “Our work with Tate & Lyle illustrates the benefits of digitization, which can yield immense productivity and output gains from existing facilities,” said Petter Hollertz, area sales manager at ABB. “The improvements at this plant also show what great teamwork between the equipment supplier and the user can accomplish, as we worked together as true partners on this project.”