I am in Frankfurt, Germany this week at the huge chemical industry trade show–Achema. Monday attendance was a little light, but observers expected it to pick up today and tomorrow.

It takes time to get used to large trade shows again with so few in the US anymore. There are many automation vendors in attendance. I saw many on Monday, with more to come Tuesday and Wednesday.

Central to Pepperl + Fuchs display was the benefits of its take on intrinsic safety–DART. This technology allows for greater power into intrinsic safety applications. They were touting a diagnostic module for the physical layer that can save technicians much time and grief by checking the status of the physical network.

Werum is an MES supplier to the pharmaceutical industry. We talked about its Manufacturing IT platform that was among the first to expand applicability of MES into the operations management and manufacturing intelligence area.

My half-hour tour of the Siemens booth–organized in a circle exemplifying the plant life cycle theme–turned into two hours. It had much going on. Most interesting to me is the two-way data interaction capability between its Comos engineering application and DCS and maintenance applications. This is a step to solving the owner/operator problem of finding details about devices from the engineering documentation.

Siemens also showed a new Coriolis meter (touted as the smallest in the industry) and an accurate ultrasonic level sensor.

A chance meeting of someone I know at Endress + Hauser led to 45 minutes in that booth. We looked at what they are doing with safety–both explosive areas and functional safety–where sensors contain intelligence for push-to-test failure analysis plus enhanced internal diagnostics. Also a sensor connection system with no hot wires using magnetic coupling and induction for electricity and data. Finally, E+H has a Web-enabled Asset Management application that includes device information down to the individual serial number level that can integrate into CMMS packages–another company looking at that design to operator handoff.

At the Invensys booth, we not only talked about my potential Scottish heritage (it appears Mintchell is a Scottish name) but also about managing refining by tracing carbon throughout the system. It includes ways of monitoring, simulating and optimizing processes for such things as balancing crude inputs to the system.

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