A good turnout of customers greeted Invensys (Foxboro and Triconex) executives this week as the company celebrated the 30th anniversary of Triconex and the launch of Foxboro Evo—the new generation of process automation & control operationalizing the InFusion vision.
I might as well begin with what is on most people’s minds—the pending acquisition by Schneider Electric. President and CEO Mike Caliel addressed the situation right away. “At this point there is a formal offer on the table. The Invensys board intends to recommend acceptance to shareholders. After shareholder approval, then will come regulatory reviews. We expect approval of shareholders in October, with the deal probably complete in late 2013 or early 2014. Now we are completely separate companies. There is no impact today. I don’t foresee it changing in the future. If you heard about our plans from anyone but us, they are not our plans. Schneider values the synergies of products and people.”
Caliel will lead the Invensys side of the integration. Schneider CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire says he wants it to be a growth deal.
I have thought about this acquisition from many angles, then listened to many people discuss it this week. This is probably the best outcome for Invensys, its people and customers. Schneider will most likely let Invensys run the way it has. It has the financial strength and stability to remove all the past uncertainty surrounding the company. There is virtually no overlap, which will eliminate political infighting such as happened with the Modicon acquisition between Modicon people and Square D people. I think in the end, it’s good for Invensys and good for automation customers. When I see the innovation of the Foxboro company and Wonderware, I marvel at the opportunities lost through incredibly bad management. We can only hope that Schneider will provide stability and finance and let them continue to operate somewhat independently.
Vice President Peter Martin set up the product launch with a history of Foxboro and Triconex innovations. He took the history up to the 2006 launch of InFusion. “InFusion’s goal was to unify the compute space. It represented a different type of innovation, occurred at infrastructure level where people can’t really see it, and built a common industrial system platform. It is a still evolving unified services architecture.”
With characteristic humor, Martin added, “Being an innovator in a very conserviative market like ours has its challenges. We want the latest as long as it has been proven for a decade.” He continued, “We believe evolutionary innovation is essential to your success. The future for industrial companies is challenging and daunting. Speed of business will increase, processes will evolve, regulatory pressures squeeze profitability, higher levels of safety, security, required; new generation of industrial workers will require the operational insight to replace and outperform their predecessors. Each person will have to work at higher levels of performance. Require information and enlightenment. We can meet just as in the past. This week, we’ll show you how.”
Caliel, after addressing the Schneider situation, addressed the future of industrial automation. “We need to turn data into contextual information. The challenge is beyond technology to how to apply to drive business value. You’re under tremendous pressure to not only meet but exceed business needs. But the data is not always helping you, sometimes it’s even hurting you. When people are flooded they may make the wrong decision or act more slowly. Why not take advantage of the advanced software available. We see the value of this enlightenment not just for operators or engineers, but for everyone. What is needed is a process system to meet these challenges, with a new perspective, operational integrity and operational insight.”
Next-Gen Foxboro Evo
Billed as a “Process Automation System,” Foxboro Evo incorporates advanced roles-based tools, extra processing power and safety-system integration improve business continuity and profitability; future-proof automation investments.
“The three most important ways a process automation vendor can help its customers secure their future is to protect the operational integrity of their plants, enhance the operational insight of its people and enable them to adapt easily and affordably to change,” said Gary Freburger, president of Invensys’ systems business. “Our new Foxboro Evo system does that with unrivaled elegance. With more powerful processing capacity and other new, advanced applications, the system allows our customers to uncover new and hidden value from within their operations. This is another automation breakthrough from a company with a 100-year history of delivering innovative technology advancements. We’re excited about what this means for the industry and for our customers, and we look forward to continuing to help them safely achieve their short- and long-term business and operations goals.”
Foxboro Press Release
The following is from the press release and hits the main themes of the development—especially the role-based thinking.
The Foxboro Evo process automation system has evolved directly from pioneering Foxboro I/A Series and Triconex technology, both entrusted to control and protect some of the world’s largest, most complex process facilities and known for their innovative, layered architecture. The system extends this approach through a component object-based platform, which can undergo major upgrades without halting operations.
“We needed to upgrade the vast majority of our DCS, but like most sites, we didn’t have the luxury of a site-wide shutdown to make a full change possible,” said Michael McKenzie, distributed control systems specialist for BP in Brisbane, Australia. “We were facing a substantial obsolescence issue, which we had ranked as a significant risk to ongoing operations, so we needed a solution that would allow us to upgrade components as we needed them, without sacrificing functionality or usability for operators. The new Invensys system allowed for a much easier upgrade of all components and will ensure that we can keep our system well away from obsolescence, so that we’re not required to perform any additional large-scale upgrades.”
Because users can upgrade at their own pace, the Foxboro Evo system delivers the lowest total cost of automation and highest return on assets. Additionally, its new applications improve the ability of plant personnel to contribute toward the success of the business by streamlining and contextualizing the information they need to make the right business decisions at the right time.
“As the pace of global business accelerates, automation technology becomes increasingly important in helping manufacturers focus on finding more value within their operations and automation assets,” said Chris Lyden, senior vice president for Invensys. “If users in the control room and in the field can better interpret the growing volume and complexity of the information they receive within the proper context of procedures and operational risk, then they will make more valuable contributions to the business. The Foxboro Evo system is loaded with new features that will help them do that, and it is structured to evolve with them as they and their companies change and grow.”
The Foxboro Evo system includes a new high-speed controller, field device management tools, a maintenance response center, an enterprise historian, 1-n redundancy and cyber security hardening. And because the company’s broad portfolio of roles-based engineering tools and productivity applications are integrated within it, the system provides superior visibility into historical, real-time and predictive operating information to help drive production efficiency.
Safety and security personnel will benefit from an innovative coupling of control and safety, which enables sharing of operational information while keeping the safety system functionally isolated, as well as state-of-the-art cyber security.
Engineers will be able to reduce their workloads, protect schedule integrity and reduce risk via more intuitive design and troubleshooting features, virtualization and other flexible technology.
Operators will gain a more complete, real-time view of plant activity via an updated high-performance, mobile accessible HMI.
Maintenance technicians will enjoy lower meantime between repairs via real-time device alerts and analytics, alarm triage, performance monitoring and other benefits.
Current Foxboro I/A Series DCS users can migrate to the Foxboro Evo system with little or no downtime, depending on which version they are running. Users of competing process automation systems, whose wiring terminations are still functional, can migrate to the Foxboro Evo system without ripping and replacing infrastructure, significantly reducing costs and downtime, just as they were able to do with the I/A Series system.