Emerson Moves to the Cloud and Registers Product with FieldComm Group

I’ve accumulated a couple of news items from Emerson. The most interesting tidbit lies in the standard company description found at the beginning of all corporate news releases. This one highlights Emerson as a software company, as in “Emerson, a global software, technology, and engineering leader.” I’ve written a post and recorded a podcast (which is popular, by the way) on the “software is eating the industrial world” topic. There is no income for media coming from software, but it’s an interesting direction for this market.

The two items include moving its SCADA SaaS platform to Microsoft Azure in the cloud and registering its AMS Device Manager with FDI.

Emerson Supports Sustainability with Improved Cloud-Hosted Industrial Control Platform

Emerson explains the benefits of moving to the cloud as improved scalability, data protection, and threat intelligence, not to mention sustainability as it moves its Zedi Cloud SCADA software-as-a-service to Microsoft Azure.

The more robust cloud host enables customers to securely scale their supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems quickly and easily to achieve environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments, better safeguard critical business assets, and empower users to adapt their operations to changing requirements while mitigating risks and operational costs.

Emerson’s Zedi Cloud SCADA platform uses advanced automation and software, including proven machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to build predictive models that lead to autonomous operations over time, helping support sustainability efforts in oil and gas, water/wastewater and other data-intensive industries. Critical data from those predictive models can then be stored in an operation’s data historian to more easily track and trend performance and emissions and demonstrate compliance to regulators.

The Zedi Cloud SCADA platform helps personnel manage advanced analytics in formats that present authorized end users with clear, easily understood data accessible in the cloud anytime from anywhere. This improved access to intuitive data enables easy remote monitoring of assets, helping users improve operational performance even in rugged, dangerous, or distant locations. Increased layers of cybersecurity and the more robust network afforded by the Azure platform enable customers to further protect data for advanced continuity of operations.

Emerson Improves Device and Process Visibility with FieldComm Group Registration

AMS Device Manager is the first software of its kind to be registered under the Field Device Integration standard, making it easier to monitor and optimize plant health.

Field devices collect and transmit important data that personnel use to improve plant health, performance, and reliability. FDI registration will reduce the need for plants to support two different technologies to integrate and maintain field devices. Full FDI registration is important to avoid having a patchwork of systems and devices that only support individual elements of FDI but still require extensive integration effort. Because manufacturers can pick and choose individual FDI features to support, some device management applications will likely not contain every feature a plant requires. Emerson worked side by side with FieldComm Group for nearly two years to enable AMS Device Manager to pass the group’s rigorous testing process for registration, which requires all features to be supported by the software. 

The newest release of AMS Device Manager will make it easier, more secure, and more cost effective to access device data. FDI integration technology eliminates the need for plants to support the two most common technologies for installing and configuring devices: Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and Field Device Tool/Device Type Manager (FDT/DTM). Instead, all FDI devices support a single installation package, so organizations will no longer have to double up on time, training, and effort when installing field devices.

Open Process Automation Forum Discusses Progress

We’re just six weeks into the year and more events than usual have crowded my daily time—trips, funeral, swim meets, surgery for the wife’s broken arm. I’m behind. Thankfully I don’t put out a monthly magazine and all the peripheral (stuff) that goes with that. In order to divert my mind, I have been reading through (in order of course) the complete Nero Wolfe series from Rex Stout. If you have never been introduced to the genius private detective who settles his seventh-of-a-ton body into a custom desk chair and eats gourmet meals, you’ve missed a treat.

I did take an hour out yesterday morning, getting back to work, to listen in to the media update of the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Introduced at the ARC Forum in February 2017, this effort to forge a standard of standards for process automation interoperability has made progress.

The standards document is well along with six parts. The attempt is not to design a DCS but to harness standards such that interoperability is enhanced making life easier for owner/operators when necessary upgrades are specified.

Most impressive are the five owner/operator test beds authorized for completion in the next year. Companies working on these are ExxonMobil, Georgia-Pacific, BASF, Saudi Aramco/Petronas, and Dow Chemical. Note that these are not all only oil & gas.

Interoperability only works if it can be proved. The conformance working group paces with the standards working group to assure standards and ways to test for conformance develop hand-in-hand.

Not every DCS supplier was thrilled with this project at the beginning. Even if all are on board, I’m not sure how many are whole-heartedly behind it. Even so, this effort will move the entire industry forward toward the owner/operator goal of interoperable technology.

Manufacturing Colorado Green Chili

Did you know that green chili is a uniquely Colorado delicacy? I discovered that through a conversation with Colorado Green Chili founder and owner Gary Geiser. Colorado Green Chili began in the early 2000s at a 13-seat diner (now he has two) that featured his original formula for green chili….a southwestern delicacy that the rest of the U.S. isn’t as familiar with.

Geiser told me that someone from Whole Foods ate at his diner and told him that his Green Chili would be a hit at his store. Does he bottle it for sale? The answer was “not at the moment.”

But the restaurant entrepreneur decided to become a manufacturing entrepreneur, as well. Geiser investigated process control, batch processing, learned how to batch various sizes of product. He investigated co-packers and hired engineers to write control and MES software for the system. He purchased a 20,000 square-foot facility and equipment and was in business.

He went to the FDA and USDA to obtain all the necessary approvals, then began production. He produces product under his own name and also white labelled for others. He currently supplies Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Kroger, and more. He has sold online to all 50 US states and to 25 countries.

With over 900K jars sold, the green chili is made from all-natural Colorado green chilis, is gluten free, is vegan, is the first green chili to participate in the NON GMO Project and “tastes amazing”. Actually, I’ve gone through a jar of the “hot” that has a touch of habanero and the salsa. I’m working on a jar of the mild. I’ve mixed it with a few foods and like it over omelets and scrambled eggs. Geiser recommended slow cooking a pork shoulder with a jar of the chili. I haven’t tried that, yet, but it’s on the list.

Here is 25 MIN of live TV  just completed when the second restaurant reopened. Within this content you will see the jarred chili featured. Also, as you consider this note, we would love to send you chili samples to taste.

Control and Automation Solution for Sugar Manufacturers

Today’s email barrage brought Bill Lydon’s Dozen Automation and Control Trends. I haven’t compiled a “Dirty Dozen”, but this news from ABB Process Automation surely reflects a trend you’ve seen coming for some time. That is application specific solutions. The first I saw were specific packages for MES. Now libraries for specific applications of control and automation. I’m thinking these should be valuable to you. If you’ve found them less than helpful, you might send me a note.

ABB has launched its latest release of ABB Ability Sugar Library enhanced with new functionalities to serve as a control engineering inventory for sugar manufacturers. It will help to reduce engineering costs and development timelines, simplify expansions and eliminate errors in engineering and improve quality and reliability in operational use.

The release features a range of specifically designed templates for sugar process applications in beet and cane sugar industries. It fulfils all process area requirements including raw material handling, purification, crystallization and sugar handling, and now evaporation and filtration. Customizable templates will result in engineering efficiencies. For operators, efficient monitoring of process helps to optimize resources and energy usage.

A high-performance human-machine interface (HMI) has been designed for fast detection and resolution of process disturbances, with alarm messages. In maintenance, teams will gain the right information at the right time, with tracking and trends visually available. The auto-reconfigurable dynamic, high-performance HMI visualizations provided in the library for selected operations will greatly reduce the commissioning time and will also help plant engineers and operators to focus on continuous improvement.

Looking for another entrenched trend? Try sustainability. It’s everywhere these days.

Among sustainability advantages, ABB Ability Sugar Library features a steam economy mode that ensures no more steam than required is generated during the evaporation phase. It is also collected and reused for the crystallization phase, saving any fuel used to make the steam and therefore reducing production costs. The solution is built from knowledge attained through collaboration with major process and equipment suppliers and sugar manufacturers. This ensures that the latest process control philosophies are incorporated within the library. It comprises components for control and supervision, with each a complete functional unit ready for use and able to be adapted to specific user needs.

Sugar manufacturers can take advantage of ready-to-use templates with control schemes for not only vacuum pans and associated Brix control, but also for all other critical process areas including purification, evaporation and raw material handling along with associated process equipment. Library provisions include efficient boil up curves with customizable algorithms. Operators will experience improved control for steam economy, better shape and homogeneity for crystals, with alerts and data logging capabilities throughout.

ExxonMobil Announces Open Process Automation Field Trial

I wrote a piece yesterday about software defined control with a new German company called Software Defined Automation. I mentioned the Open Process Automation Forum in the piece. I have followed the developments of OPAF since its inception. It has made a lot of progress pushing the industry to accept a decoupling of software and hardware for control and automation. This effort is not unlike that undertaken years ago in the IT industry.

This effort was initiated within ExxonMobil, who remains a leader in the effort. You can check my latest updates here and here.

I recently ran across this piece by Harry Forbes, an ARC Advisory Group analyst, where he interviews some people from ExxonMobil.

At the November 2021 NAMUR General Assembly, ExxonMobil announced that they have internally approved progressing a field trial of an Open Process Automation system. The project will be engineered and started up during 2022-23. Previously, ExxonMobil has shared this decision only with the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF), a forum of the Open Group that is developing the related standards and compliance processes. The NAMUR event was the first time ExxonMobil had shared this decision at an industry event.

In discussing with ARC, ExxonMobil emphasized that the O-PAS standard (Rev 2.1) was sufficiently close even if the standard does not address all of the objectives articulated for an Open Process Automation system.

ARC: Explain how the ExxonMobil OPA Proof-of-Concept, OPA prototype, and OPA Test Bed fitted in with this ExxonMobil qualification process.

ExxonMobil: The Proof-of-Concept work demonstrated the art of the possible as well as began the process of understanding the important requirements for products fulfilling the roles in the OPA Architecture. The Prototype project continued to push the usage of the open, standards-based technologies and further refined the feature requirements and implementation methods along with testing industrial product usage in these new ways. The Test Bed serves as a return to more basic R&D in the beginning, progressing to qualification of candidate technologies and products in preparation for the Field Trial project in the later stages.

The Prototype system was capable of being operated and beneficial to the Operators running a pilot unit and supportable (in the short term) by our R&D partners in that project yet was not a complete solution for a system that would be fielded for years of service. The Test Bed completes the supportable technology set and provides confidence that the system can be successful in the Field Trial, as this requires components and integration that meet the ExxonMobil quality and performance requirements for an automation system.

ABB Retains Process Control AutomationMarket Leadership

The process control automation (Distributed Control Systems or DCS) market was ripe for consolidation. A few companies began to grow, most were candidates for acquisition. No company had a more voracious acquisition appetite than ABB. Part of its genius was the development of the 800xA platform designed as a way of bringing the newly formed empire together. It is now announced by ARC Advisory Group that ABB is the market leader for the 22nd consecutive year with about a 20% share of a $14 billion dollar market.

During 2020 ABB saw growth across key regions, despite the impact of the pandemic on the DCS market across industry. Energy transition and sustainability, as well as an upturn in DCS segments across the pharmaceuticals and biotechnology markets were key growth drivers for ABB.

The DCS market analysis and forecast report by ARC Advisory Group has been published annually for the past 40 years, with ABB consistently in the lead for more than half that time.

“ABB leads the field in DCS thanks to its domain knowledge in multiple industries, extensive service network, a continued investment in developing technology, loyal customers and digital solutions that meet rapidly changing customer requirements,” said Bernhard Eschermann, Chief Technology Officer, ABB Process Automation. “Much of our development is focused on advancing technology such as modular automation, select I/O and secure Edge integrated solutions which address new process and business challenges while protecting investments. We believe these type of solutions to be some of the catalysts needed for the successful implementation of industrial IoT and agile navigation within Industry 4.0.”

The recent launch of the latest version of ABB Ability System 800xA represents an evolution for automated control and plant operations of tomorrow. It is a process control system, an electrical control system and a safety system and a collaboration enabler, allowing further improvement of engineering efficiency, operator performance and asset utilization. In addition, ABB Ability Symphony Plus, is an industry leading DCS in the power, water and waste water markets and ABB’s Freelance offering is a DCS tailor-made for hybrid markets.

ARC’s report also highlights ABB Ability, ABB’s unified, cross-industry portfolio of digital solutions, which includes more than 170 Industrial Internet solutions and an Industrial Internet technology platform and cloud infrastructure. Drawing on insights across over 20 industries and more than 40 years of experience in digital technology, ABB Ability helps customers to develop new processes and advance existing ones by providing insights and optimizing planning and controls for real-time operations. These insights can then be fed into control systems like ABB Ability System 800xA and ABB Ability Symphony Plus to improve key performance metrics of plants and assets. With an installed base of 35,000 DCS systems across more than 100 countries ABB is a trusted leader in creating digital solutions for customers in the industrial space.