Rockwell give a lift to a quiet Christmas!

DSCN2626azThings must be bad in process automation and control: most of the major suppliers involved with the oil industry cancelled or reduced their plans for any entertainment of UK magazine editors this year.  But a notable exception was Rockwell Automation! Their get-together and lunch for Editors at the Café Royal on Regent Street was therefore much appreciated, and a memorable opportunity to hear what they have been doing. Plus it was a major opportunity for the Editors to catch up with one another to review industry developments!

David NichollDavid Nicholl, the new Country Director for RA in the UK, joined Rockwell from Schneider Electric back in May. He commented that RA have benefited from their automation product spread across all industries, and so is not as affected by the problems caused by the low price of oil as other suppliers. Rockwell has had a good year particularly in Food and Beverage, but also they have found a niche for other industries ‘On-shoring’, bringing manufacturing back into the UK, and providing customised, safe and secure production. Industries also high on Rockwell’s customer list this year have been Water, and Pharmaceuticals, where traceability has been a major feature.

Still important to Rockwell are the oil and gas industries, where safety system changes and upgrades are always a priority. The slowdown experienced generally in oil and gas investment has not been as significant for Rockwell Automation, because their safety systems represent an area that is essential, and not cut back as ‘discretionary spending’.

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New methanol plant automation

Yokogawa has received an order from Orascom E&C USA to deliver control and safety systems for the Natgasoline LLC methanol plant, which will be one of the largest methanol plants in the World. Currently under construction in Beaumont, Texas, this facility will have a capacity of approximately 1.75 million metric tons per year when it starts production in 2017.

For the process control and safety of the Lurgi MegaMethanol process technology and auxiliary facilities throughout this plant, Yokogawa will supply their Centum VP integrated production control system, ProSafe-RS safety instrumented system, Exaquantum plant information management system, and Plant Resource Manager (PRM) software package. The Yokogawa Corporation of America will be responsible for the engineering and delivery of these systems, and will provide support with installation and commissioning.

Yokogawa entered the U.S. market in 1957 and has grown the business across diverse markets, but have had particular success in the oil and gas refining and offshore production, LNG liquefaction and chemical manufacturing areas. We are proud to win the first order for a new US-based grass roots methanol plant that exceeds a million metric tons per year. This project allows us to build on our already extensive track record in executing and maintaining methanol production in North America”, said Daniel Duncan, President and CEO of Yokogawa Corporation of America.

Though the chemical industry in the USA has long relied on imported methanol, the amount of methanol produced locally is steadily increasing, because of the ready availability of ethane produced from domestically sourced shale gas. Yokogawa won this order because of its excellent track record in completing projects, and its demonstrated ability to deliver comprehensive, integrated solutions that help optimize operations.

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.

65th Birthday for Delta Controls

Process instrumentation specialist Delta Controls Ltd has been a world leader in the design and manufacture of high quality temperature and pressure measurement instruments since its formation in 1950. Industrial process instrumentation has seen many changes over these 65 years, as shown by the Delta Controls investment in R&D and its continuous product range evolution, which now includes some of the highest performing, reliable and accurate transmitters and switches available.

In addition to the fundamental advances in technology which have occurred during these 65 years, the Delta Controls engineers have contributed to significant improvements in the reliability, accuracy and repeatability of the process instrumentation industry, and also to reducing the size of the instruments which have changed from being large, heavy and unwieldy to the considerably more compact and convenient models the company offers today.

Delta Controls made its name in the design and manufacture of temperature and pressure process switches for hazardous areas. Today the company offers a comprehensive range of industrial instrumentation to the process and power industries worldwide, focusing on critical applications where safety, reliability and accuracy are vital.   In addition to its ‘off-the-shelf’ products, Delta Controls is known for its custom solutions which meet individual and highly complex technical requirements.

Delta Controls products are used in a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, power generation, petrochemical, water and wastewater, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, pulp and paper, and chemical engineering.

Delta Controls now supplies a full range of pressure, temperature and flow switches and transmitters for process monitoring, alarm and safety shutdown applications, as well as for all ancillary equipment.

See www.delta-controls.com

Netherlands takes action over gas field earthquakes

The following article appeared in the HazardEx newsletter this week, and is of particular relevance to the UK current discussions over the safety of fracking in Northwestern UK. The HazardEx newsletter can be accessed via www.hazardexonthenet.net

The Groningen gas field was discovered in the 1960s, and is a conventional gas reservoir, it does not use fracking. As the gas is extracted, small earthquakes have occurred as the ground, the roof of the reservoir, settles, presumably as a result of the reduction in the gas pressure below. Tens of thousands of homes have had to be shored up because of damage caused by the earthquakes

The government of the Netherlands apologised on March 2 for ignoring risks posed by earthquakes caused by production of natural gas in the northern province of Groningen. The apology follows a February 18 report by the country’s independent Safety Board that found that the government, together with Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon, had put profits before safety in exploiting the Groningen gas field.

Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp said he was very sorry that the safety interests of Groningers had not received the attention they deserved. He said safety would now come first and that necessary measures would be taken to address the problem.

Last month Kamp ordered production at the Groningen field, Europe’s largest onshore gas field, to be cut by 16% for the first half of 2015, sending prices in northwest Europe surging. He is due to make another decision on production at the field on July 1.

Earthquakes were definitively linked to production at Groningen in 1993, but they became more frequent and intense after production was increased in 2008. Increased gas revenues provided important revenues for the state as the Dutch government pursued unpopular austerity policies.

After a 3.6 magnitude earthquake in 2012 — greater than any Shell and Exxon had forecast — regulators warned the government that citizens’ safety was at risk and called for production to be cut as quickly as possible. But the government did not order a reduction in production until last year, and then only a relatively small one.

The Groningen field accounts for two-thirds of Dutch gas production and the Netherlands supplies about 15% of Europe’s total natural gas, providing an important alternative to Russian gas.

In the wake of the Safety Board report, Dutch political parties across the spectrum are calling for Groningen never to return to former production levels, with left-leaning parties seeking further cuts in production.

Shell and Exxon have so far set aside 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in compensation after 30,000 buildings were damaged by recent earthquakes, although no serious physical injuries have been reported as a result of the quakes.

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.

MTL and Yokogawa launch Universal I/O for Hazardous Areas.

In the INSIDER for November this year, it was reported how Honeywell have used the Universal I/S interface module from P+F, and that MTL were happy to remain with the dedicated function units. Well now a new PR from MTL – as you know part of Cooper Crouse Hinds, part of Eaton, who say they are a ‘Power management company’ – so that has got their corporate rubbish out of the way. MTL announced today that it has been supporting Yokogawa in the development of their next generation integrated production control system, Centum VP R6.01.  This is also reported on in the November INSIDER.

However, Yokogawa wanted to design a new system with an intrinsically safe universal input/output (I/O) module for greater efficiency in system configuration and engineering: so they approached MTL, for its expertise in intrinsic safety devices for hazardous area and general process control applications.

“We have a long standing relationship with Yokogawa, having worked together globally for more than 20 years on various projects, so we were delighted once again to partner with them on the Centum VP R6.01,” said Riccardo Codega, MTL marketing director.  “We worked closely with them to understand their requirements for a universal I/O module and recommended our MTL4500 intrinsic safety isolators, which have been adapted to work in a universal environment.  The backplane mounting series is designed with systems vendors in mind and is perfect for DCS applications such as this.”

Yokogawa, a leading manufacturer of process control instrumentation, distributed control systems (DCS) and test and measurement instruments, launched its first version of Centum in 1975, and the company has continued to improve the platform by applying the latest technologies. Recognising the challenges faced by today’s manufacturing plants for increased flexibility as well as improved process efficiencies, with the need to maintain safe operations, Yokogawa wanted to develop an intrinsically safe universal I/O module that would allow its customers to reduce the time required for installing and configuring a control system.

“We chose to work with Eaton MTL for its credibility and expertise in intrinsic safety,” said Nobuaki Konishi, vp of the Yokogawa Industrial Automation Platform Business. “The company is recognised in the industry as being a key supplier and we were confident we could rely on them to provide a high quality and safe solution.”

Now for the required PR paragraphs, first, from MTL:

“As part of the Centum VP R6.01, Yokogawa has expanded its range of I/O devices, which are critical control system components, and a key feature is a new N-IO field I/O device with an I/O module that can easily handle multiple types of I/O signals.  As such, it eliminates the need for I/O modules to be replaced according to the signal they convey, which reduces rewiring, footprint and the time spent on installation and associated costs.

MTL product specialists added additional diagnostic features and functionality so line fault detection is integrated into the Yokogawa system.  Now, there are channel level diagnostics in the control system that help users avoid downtime and increase plant productivity.

A key benefit of the MTL4500 Series isolators is that the base plate does not require intrinsic safety certification. The field connection is on top of the module, so it does not need any additional accreditations and it is accessible to all regions worldwide.  As a result, the approval process into a plant is simplified in virtually any application.

The MTL4500 isolators are a compact integrated solution for flexible cabinet layout.  Incorporating advanced circuit design, a common set of components and innovative isolating transformer construction, the isolators achieve a significant reduction in power consumption while increasing channel packing densities. The 16mm wide design reduces weight and gives exceptionally high packing density.

MTL4500 isolators are plug-and-play with easy commissioning and set up, therefore simplifying project engineering and reducing installation and maintenance costs.  The design is based on existing, proven technologies and provides a reliable solution for manufacturing plants and process industries including oil and gas, petrochemicals, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Eaton continues to work closely with Yokogawa in its development of control systems that will provide customers with an improved operating environment by increasing the safety and efficiency of their operations and achieving greater synergy between their control system and field devices.  In addition to improving production efficiency, this will allow the optimisation of maintenance of the production control system, safety instrumented system, programmable controllers, all field devices, and other components, thereby reducing costs and ensuring the long-term stability of operations.”

Second, a precis of the Yokogawa PR:

Yokogawa launched the new version of Centum VP, the Series 6, this month. Centum was launched in 1975 as the World’s first DCS system, and Yokogawa are proud to claim progressive compatibility and upgradability across all Centum systems over these 40 years. Over 25,000 Centum systems have been installed worldwide in this time, with 88% of these concentrated in Europe and Asia.

The R6 version introduces N-IO, Network IO, which “fulfills the functions of universal I/O and a signal conditioner, enabling configurable software and flexible I/O assignment”. As discussed in the INSIDER report on the Honeywell HUG EMEA meeting in November, Yokogawa also have established agreements with P+F and MTL to enable intrinsically safe interfaces for the N-IO. A FieldMate Validator software tool is also available, enabling the field instrument and wiring loop to be checked before there is any connection to the control system.

The Centum VP R6 also includes an ‘Automation Design Suite’ that facilitates project execution, including program templates for heat exchangers, filters, and other types of equipment commonly used in the field. The database structure facilitates the reuse of valuable engineering knowhow, centrally manages the functional design documents needed, eliminates inconsistencies between the design information and the actual system, manages change, and supports the automation lifecycle, for example in maintenance and expansion phases.

The INSIDER Newsletter is a Spitzer and Boyes publication, which includes reports from Nick Denbow as a European Correspondent. See http://www.iainsider.co.uk