Let me try to summarize a number of other news items gleaned from the ARC Forum featuring edge computing, IIoT Platforms, and technology. When ARC’s Paul Miller told me it would be the best ever, he turned out not to be exaggerating. More people, more news.
Stratus Technologies, known for years for secure servers, released an edge computing device. Interest in computing at the edge of the network has blossomed lately, with many companies releasing products. Lots of choices for users.
Integration Objects, firmly within another important trend, introduced an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Platform. I’m beginning to see articles about users latching on to these platforms rather than building their own ad hoc connections among IoT devices and applications.
UL discussed standards with me during the show. The company known for developing safety standards and then testing for compliance has developed also a security standard. And it tests to it for compliance.
HIMA is another company combining safety and security technologies. There is so much in common between the two–especially thought processes and planning.
Yokogawa has extended and rebranded its process automation offering, now called Synaptic Business Automation. Among other things, it has refined the dashboard into a “karaoke” style.
Bentley Systems discussed the combining of engineering design tools with digital photography and other digital technologies to better represent the engineering and design of a plant. This is the most cutting edge technology I saw during the week, but I cannot do it justice in a paragraph. I encourage a tour of the Website.
Just when I thought I’d never write about Controllers, here comes a very interesting announcement from Emerson Automation Solutions [note new name]. Taking direct aim at its competitors who have moved aggressively from discrete control into process systems, Emerson announced launch of the DeltaV PK Controller.
This controller targets fast-growth industries traditionally less reliant on large-scale automation. The next-gen controller provides scalable automation control to all process industries, particularly parts of the life sciences, oil and gas, petrochemical, and discrete manufacturing industries that have relied on complex, non-integrated programmable logic controllers (PLCs) with limited operational capabilities. The fit-for-purpose DeltaV PK Controller is the process industry’s first controller that manufacturers can scale down for skid units or scale up to be natively merged into the DeltaV DCS in a larger plant.
These industries tend to use PLCs for smaller applications, which can create disconnected “Islands of Automation,” and limits plant production improvements. The DeltaV PK Controller bridges small and large control applications. Organizations can leverage the DeltaV PK Controller for effective, easy-to-implement standalone automation control akin to a PLC but with the features of a full-scale DCS, including advanced batch production, recipe management, execution, and historization. Users can then choose to leave the DeltaV PK Controller standalone, or natively merge it into their DeltaV DCS. This capability eliminates operational complexity and dramatically improves the performance, safety, and efficiency of their entire project and operational lifecycle.
“The DeltaV PK Controller delivers a business-effective solution for organizations of all sizes to improve automation control and integration,” said Jessica Jordan, Emerson product manager. “The controller is capable of powerful standalone control for advanced automation on skids today while still being able to easily integrate into a full-scale DCS for total plant production control.”
The DeltaV PK Controller is the latest addition to Emerson’s Project Certainty initiative, targeting radical transformation in capital project execution. The new controller will simplify capital projects by enabling OEM skid-builders to design and produce skids in the same way they do today, while eliminating the costs, time, and risks associated with integrating a PLC into their control system.
The DeltaV PK Controller was designed from the start with connectivity, particularly into the IIoT, in mind. The scalable controller leverages an assortment of communication protocols, including the first Emerson controller with a built-in OPC UA server. It is also the first Emerson controller with six Ethernet ports and can operate using any Emerson DeltaV I/O type, including DeltaV Electronic Marshalling, traditional marshalled I/O, wireless I/O, and integrated safety instrumented systems. In addition, it has built-in protocols to communicate with Ethernet devices such as drives and motors. Together, these features make connectivity easier at every stage and help plants achieve operational benefits of cloud-based tools and analytics through the IIoT. The DeltaV PK Controller also features built-in redundancy for controllers, communication, and power supplies, allowing organizations to improve uptime without adding to complexity or footprint.
Here is some news regarding control and networking. Bedrock Automation is a recent entrant into the control and automation space, while Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) holds great potential to be a disruptive force.
I seldom write about automation company “wins”, but this one shows some direction for a new company. Bedrock Automation is a young automation company that has built a new control platform from the ground up for not only the latest in control but also for security.
My curiosity has focused on where it would find a market. I don’t see it displacing Rockwell Automation and Siemens any time soon, but the platform is robust and adaptable. This looks like a perfect application.
Pinnacle Midstream, a Houston-based supplier of storage and processing services for the oil and gas industry, has selected the Bedrock control system as the automation platform for its crude oil receipt and delivery points. The Bedrock system will coordinate flow of product from partners, through the Pinnacle processing facilities and onto refiners and shippers. Pinnacle chose Bedrock system for its scalability, ease of engineering, ruggedness, cost efficiencies and intrinsic cyber security.
“We are expanding to the meet the growing need for midstream services and need a secure way to centralize control of flow amongst our facilities. The Bedrock system provides an economical solution in a small, easy-to-implement system that can coordinate edge control today, while also scaling easily and economically to the full DCS functionality we expect to need in the future. We also liked the rugged Bedrock housing, which will resist the dust that gets into everything around here,” said Mike Hillerman, VP of Engineering and Operations for Pinnacle Midstream.
Avnu Alliance, the industry consortium driving open standards-based deterministic networking through certification, is co-hosting the 2017 Time Sensitive Networks and Applications (TSN/A) Conference with WEKA FACHMEDIEN on September 20-21 at the Mövenpick Hotel Stuttgart Airport in Germany.
The TSN/A Conference is a combination of the “TSNA Conference” and the “Industrial Ethernet TSN Kongress” and offers attendees insights into Time-Sensitive Networks and usage in applications for Automotive, Industrial, Professional Audio/Video and more. The conference spans two days of technical sessions, panel discussions, vendor demonstrations, and participant networking.
“We are excited to bring together experts and thought leaders from around the world to the TSN/A Conference in Germany this year” said Kevin Stanton, Avnu Alliance Chairman, who will also deliver a conference presentation on Time Synchronization on Wired and Wireless Infrastructure. “It’s been a pleasure to join forces with WEKA FACHMEDIEN as the speakers present both the technology of TSN and its implications across our industries.”
On Wednesday, September 20, the first day of the conference, programming will feature two keynotes from Avnu Alliance members. Wolfgang Schenk of Hirschmann Automation and Control will present on “Time-Sensitive Networking: Enabling Technology for the Automation Model of the Future,” analyzing the transformation of the automation pyramid towards an automation pillar and discussing why TSN is the enabling technology for this transformation. Avnu Alliance Member BMW representative Dr. Kirsten Matheus will give a keynote on the “Use of AVB and TSN in the Automotive Industry.” Specifically, the presentation will describe the results of two workshops that Avnu Alliance held to gauge the need in the automotive industry for different Audio Video Bridging (AVB)/TSN functions.
I am happy to see momentum building for the technology. Can’t wait to see applications.
The future of process automation was front and center of discussions last week at the Foxboro User Group—The Foxboro Company being the process automation arm of Schneider Electric.
During the week I was involved in quite animated discussions with SVP Chris Lyden and VP Peter Martin regarding the future of process automation. These executives are convinced that there is an inflexion point we are reaching where we are returning to the open architecture we started with years ago. The pendulum swung toward centralized, integrated systems. Technology has progressed to a point of realizing the old dream of distributed control, interoperable systems, systems of systems, and open systems based on standards.
Martin used his closing remarks to the group to talk about the Open Process Automation Forum, which is organized under The Open Group. You may recall I’ve written about this group following each of the last two ARC Industry Forums in Orlando.
The spark was provided by a group from ExxonMobil who saw a dire need to upgrade its systems. Leaders looked at the huge upfront cost of the control upgrade plus the likelihood of being locked into a single supplier and then facing huge lifecycle costs during the life of the equipment.
“When we released our first DCS 30 years ago, we tried to make it as open as possible,” said Martin. “We felt for future innovation, the system needed to be as open as possible. But the level of standards necessary just didn’t exist.”
When ExxonMobil said they wanted to build an open platform, “we jumped in” added Martin.
Foxboro’s Trevor Cusworth is co-chair of the OPAF. He asked attendees to consider the benefits of joining in the effort. “We need more end users,” he said, “since we have only about 11 right now.”
The key benefit noted was reducing lifecycle costs, while the key technology is a new type of I/O.
From the OPAF brochure:
Not only can you contribute to the creation and development of a new process automation system, you can also:
- Ensure your experience and requirements are included
- Advocate that your industry sector is represented
- Validate that existing standards important to you are used
- Sustain the benefits of the standard and subsequent certification programs
Takeaways: This is an ambitious undertaking. The last one of these I saw eventually fell apart due to a “vicious circle”—suppliers got into the discussion hoping for new sales or the ability to knock off the incumbent; end users failed to not only write the system into their specs even if they did they weren’t enforced; suppliers lost interest due to no sales.
One important thing: If this catches on, it will greatly shake up the process automation supplier market.
Using technology to help plant managers and plant teams make their plants more profitable. In fact, they can even track and prove their profitability enhancements.
The Foxboro User Group met this week in Foxborough, MA at the company headquarters. Aside from the opportunity to meet with a number of company executives for in-depth discussions, there were two significant news releases. And, by the way, Foxboro claims a 100% return on investment with its new DCS in less than a year.
Why it’s important: This signals the culmination of a lot of strategic thinking at Foxboro about helping operators and others in a plant make decisions based on profitability as well as operating parameters.
First the new DCS.
Schneider Electric has improved the capabilities of its EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS, the company’s flagship distributed control system. EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled, open and interoperable system architecture and platform.
With patented, customizable real-time accounting (RTA) models built in, the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS not only allows the industrial workforce to evaluate the real-time financial performance of an industrial operation directly at the equipment asset level, it also empowers them to more easily identify the impact their actions and decisions have on the profitability of the operations they control. The RTA models can be manipulated and adapted to suit a variety of industrial operations across multiple segments, enabling a wide range of customers to reap far more value from their existing systems.
“For the most part, by the time business managers receive their monthly updates from whatever enterprise resource planning systems they use, the information is no longer relevant to the operational business decisions they need to make, or should have made,” said Peter Martin, vice president, Innovation and Marketing, Process Automation, Schneider Electric. “The EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS breaks the mold because our RTA models help control value asset to asset, all the way up the enterprise. By aligning process control with the hierarchy of the plant, we can provide far more visibility into the financial performance of every plant asset and asset set. That allows plant personnel to understand the impact their decisions have on the business and business leaders to understand the impact their decisions have on the operation, in real time.”
Along with the RTA models, the continuously current EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS features high-capacity, high-availability control processors; more powerful, fit-for-purpose I/O; intuitive, role-based engineering tools; and enterprise-wide analytical tools and capabilities. Additionally, its hardened cybersecure design and secure integration with the company’s market-leading Triconex safety systems protect the facility’s critical assets and allow for continuous production. Moreover, its automated, enterprise-wide, real-time condition monitoring and predictive maintenance capabilities minimize unplanned shutdowns, maximize uptime and lower maintenance costs by 30 percent or more.
EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS works in tandem with EcoStruxure Profit Advisor, Schneider Electric’s new software solution that applies the company’s RTA models to help the industrial workforce diagnose and analyze the profitability of processes throughout the plant. Whereas EcoStruxure Profit Advisor connects to any process historian to mine both historical and real-time data, the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS takes the next step by building the algorithms into the process controllers themselves, thereby extending real-time accounting capabilities to every point in the process.
Of great interest to maintenance and reliability organizations, but also plant managers, is the improved Maintenance Advisor and Condition Advisor. Working in tandem, these bring information from the field relative to the condition of assets. This information can be used for information or integrated into workflow for actions.
The company’s new EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor software, with embedded EcoStruxure Condition Advisor, bridges the gap between operations and maintenance, providing predictive maintenance and decision support for plant-wide assets.
Delivered in a single unified dashboard, EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor monitors the real-time health of plant-wide assets to detect abnormal operating conditions. It then automatically provides actionable, easy-to-understand alerts with the proper context, along with potential reasons for the abnormal condition and possible actions to rectify it.
New EcoStruxure Condition Advisor for OPC DA enables real-time, automated condition monitoring of any OPC DA-compliant asset, such as intelligent electronic devices, motor starters and drives. This new capability complements existing Condition Advisors, which monitor the condition of Fieldbus Foundation, HART and Profibus process instruments.
It is time to think beyond the unit process to asset optimization. Two press releases have come my way in the past couple of weeks from companies who are seeking to expand their product portfolios into ever broadening circles with the theme being adding emphasis on asset optimization.
This release is from Aspen Technology announcing general availability of aspenONE Version 10 software. “The latest Asset Performance Management, Engineering and Manufacturing & Supply Chain software release supports the company’s evolution from process optimization to asset optimization, the next frontier of optimization that makes the best companies even better by driving increased financial return over the entire asset lifecycle.”
If this sounds familiar, Schneider Electric’s Peter Martin has been writing and speaking on this for years. He’s an acknowledged industry visionary. I’ve worked with an industry organization MIMOSA also interested in organizing standards around asset lifecycle. Maybe we’ll begin getting a critical mass around the subject.
Where AspenTech tries to go beyond is to link in design with process and equipment. [Click on the “ad” in the right column of this Website for a white paper describing doing this with standards. We are getting there as an industry.] The aspenONE Version 10 software release includes aspenONE Asset Performance Management (APM).
The integrated suite of APM analytics provides prescriptive guidance to address multiple levels of asset performance:
- Site-Wide Risk Analysis with Aspen Fidelis Reliability software helps identify asset availability and utilization risks through reliability modeling and simulation.
- Process Analytics include Aspen Asset Analytics software to assess the root causes of process disruptions, predict future occurrences and prescribe actions to avoid them. Rapidly configured and deployed, prepackaged analytics for column troubleshooting use ensemble modeling to provide operational guidance. Included as well, Aspen ProMV software improves process reliability and asset uptime using advanced multivariate process analytics for continuous and batch monitoring.
- Equipment Performance Analytics with Aspen Mtell software provides machine-learning analytics that predict when failures will occur, understand why they will occur and prescribe what to do to avoid the failure. aspenONE Engineering Suite Highlights The latest version of aspenONE Engineering software enables asset design optimization across capital, energy, controllability, environmental impact, safety and yield, empowering collaborative workflows that drive sustained profitability.
- Specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals companies are making significant investments to rapidly develop and deliver new products to market. Aspen Plus software in aspenONE Version 10 extends modeling from continuous to batch and semi-batch processes to help companies accelerate new product development and optimize production to compete more effectively.
- Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) companies need to accelerate projects and reduce risk to compete effectively. The new web-based Aspen Basic Engineering streamlines data integration in FEED preparation and improves collaboration across globally distributed teams.
- Process plants are faced with frequent operational changes and risks to asset utilization. Faster calibration of model to plant data in Aspen Plus and Aspen HYSYS software for operations support reduces operating costs and increase yields.
aspenONE Manufacturing & Supply Chain Suite Highlights Building on the PIMS-AO engine, the new Aspen Unified PIMS features a modern web-based architecture with scalable high performance computing that enables better collaboration and improved insights into model performance.
The first of a family of Unified products envisioned to unify the production workflow from planning to scheduling and performance monitoring, Aspen Unified PIMS will initially be targeted at a specific set of customers identified by the company for the aspenONE Version 10 software release.