Process Solutions Evolving

Did Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) short-circuit the Open Process Automation work? Inquiring minds wonder. Once again, some news and analysis of a conference that I couldn’t attend—three of these the same week in June.

HPS and ExxonMobil sent this release. Subsequently, I talked with some sources at competitor companies who broached the question to me—did this news short-circuit the ExxonMobil-led effort for a new process control solution? An interesting caveat is that there is more than one group within ExxonMobil—and they don’t necessarily agree.

From the first release:

The Open Process Automation group was initiated by ExxonMobil who was trying to find a better (less expensive) upgrade path for its control systems that had fallen behind that of its competitors. The oil & gas supermajor still has in operation a significant number of older systems installed as far back as the 1980s—systems that have served the company well for more than 30 years, but as older electronic components have been replaced by more modern alternatives, spare-parts shortages and looming obsolescence put ExxonMobil and other owner operators in a difficult place.

When facing obsolescence, rip-and-replace is clearly the option of last resort—incurring high costs, protracted downtime and the loss of all the intellectual property invested in developing a system’s displays, databases, control strategies and third-party interfaces, according to David Patin, distinguished engineering associate – control systems, ExxonMobil Research & Engineering.

The company’s installed base of Honeywell TDC 3000 systems, in particular, looked to be facing a critical shortage of spare parts in the year 2025, Patin explained. “So in 2011 we met with Honeywell regarding the future of TDC 3000,” Patin began, addressing a plenary session of the Honeywell Users Group Americas 2018 conference this week in San Antonio.

Challenge issued

Unwilling to settle for rip-and-replace, “We challenged Honeywell to develop and prove a method to migrate TDC forward,” Patin said. The two companies established a joint task team to investigate the problem.

ExxonMobil’s wish list of deliverables included avoiding wholesale system replacement (especially the I/O); preserving the company’s intellectual property investment; allowing for on-process migration of system components (meaning without shutting down the process); enabling new capabilities not currently possible with TDC; and unifying TDC with Honeywell’s current state-of-the-art Experion platform.

This last item encapsulated a desire for a solution that would “be usable by a younger workforce, yet stand the test of time,” Patin said. “I picture a third-grader who’s also a future TDC engineer,” he said. “They just don’t know it yet.”
Also implicit in ExxonMobil’s requirements were continued “rock solid” reliability and security, Patin added.

Solution identified

Since the technical obstacles to bringing TDC forward hinged on hardware obsolescence, notably controller microprocessors and communications chips that would no longer be available, the team settled on an emulation approach that would effectively abstract TDC system functionality from the specifics of the older hardware.

And in February 2018, seven years after that first meeting of the minds—and two years ahead of schedule—Honeywell answered ExxonMobil’s challenge with the release of Experion LCN R501.1. The Experion LCN, or ELCN, effectively emulates the TDC system as software. “It’s 100% binary compatible and interoperable with the old system,” Patin explained. “Current TDC code runs unmodified in this virtual environment, greatly reducing the technical risks. Intellectual property such as application code, databases and displays are preserved.”

In the end, the Experion Station, Server, ACE and APP nodes can take the shape of Windows-based “physical” applications or virtual machines. Application Modules, Network Gateway and Network Interface Module functionality is redeployed on Universal Embedded Appliances or as virtual appliances. Only the Enhanced PLC Gateway cannot be readily virtualized because the emulation of serial network connectivity is not well behaved, Patin explained. “This means you can build an almost 100% virtualized or 100% physical system—or somewhere in between.”

With the new solution, LCN and UCN messages are now encapsulated in standard Internet Protocol. “All the old networks now exist as logical constructs on Fault Tolerant Ethernet,” Patin said. “We’re no longer locked into proprietary networks.”
And to address the challenge of on-process migration, Honeywell has also introduced several bridge devices that effectively facilitate the virtualization of TDC system node functionality—without the need to interrupt the process under control.

Benefits achieved

Virtualization of the TDC environment has come with some added benefits, including the ability to use Honeywell’s cloud-based Open Virtual Engineering Platform to engineer TDC solutions; lower cost, smaller footprint training simulators; peer-to-peer integration of virtualized HPM controller nodes with current-generation C300/ACE nodes; support for OneWireless (ISA 100 and WirelessHART) connectivity; and integration with ControlEdge and Unit
Operations Controllers.

“It’ll be a game-changer,” said Patin. “We don’t know all that’s possible as yet.”
Other benefits include a drastic reduction—or elimination—of spare parts, as well as reductions in cabinet space requirements. “We’ve gone from two nodes to six in a single cabinet,” Patin said. “We’ve not fully realized unification with Experion, but that process has begun.”

Overall, Patin gave high marks to the Honeywell team for its response to ExxonMobil’s needs. “The challenge was met, and expectations exceeded,” he said. “The need to replace an entire system is eliminated, future component issues are virtually eliminated (pun intended), intellectual property is preserved and on
process migration is supported.

“ELCN technology essentially resets the odometer on your TDC 3000 investment,” Patin added. “It’s the best example of Honeywell’s commitment to continuous evolution that I’ve ever seen. And if it were a final exam, I’d give Honeywell an A on this one.”

<End of release>

Safety Manager

HPS also announced Safety Manager SC, the next generation of its flagship Safety Manager platform. Its modular, scalable design enables it to function as a single platform for all enterprise safety applications, allowing customers – who are often using four or five different safety systems – to consolidate and reduce their training and engineering costs, and spare parts inventories.

Safety Manager SC incorporates a new Series C-based controller and Honeywell technologies such as LEAP, Universal Safety IO, offline simulation and Experion integration, which collectively simplify safety system engineering, development and testing.

“Our customers increasingly want integrated safety and control solutions and the simplicity of partnering with one supplier for all their needs,” said Tim LeFevre, global customer marketing manager for safety systems, HPS. “We deliver exactly that by combining unrivaled expertise in distributed control systems (DCS) and safety systems with deep integration know-how. Honeywell is one of the few vendors that can support the full safety lifecycle.”

HUG

The ability of Honeywell Connected Plant’s offerings to deliver higher levels of safety, reliability, efficiency and profitability will continue to be the primary discussion point at the 43rdHoneywell Users Group (HUG) Americas symposium. More than 1,300 delegates from across the oil and gas, chemical, pulp and paper, and metals and mining sectors are attending the event, which features numerous displays of the newest technologies along with dozens of Honeywell- and customer-led sessions and technical discussions.

Throughout the conference, Honeywell will showcase how turning data into actionable insight requires more than just upgrading technology; it requires a system for capturing, retaining and sharing knowledge that allows both the plant and its workers to perform at their best every day.

“Digital transformation has to be about more than just moving data into the cloud,” said John Rudolph, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS). “It ultimately has to be about the outcomes, including driving increased productivity and savings for our customers while allowing them to increase knowledge capture, knowledge sharing and knowledge retention among their employees.”

Rudolph was named president of HPS on May 31, 2018, succeeding Vimal Kapur, who was named president and CEO of Honeywell Building Technologies. Rudolph led the Projects and Automation Solutions, and Lifecycle Solutions and Services businesses for HPS over the past six years, driving significant growth. Rudolph also has held leadership roles with TAS Energy, General Electric and Ingersoll Rand.

Here is a revealing comment from the press release about HPS’s strategy and direction—something we’ve all been wondering about. “HUG attendees will be able to see and experience the Company’s ongoing transformation into a software-industrial provider.”

Announcements in brief:

  • Thermal IQ – Enables maintenance engineers and plant managers to more effectively monitor and manage their thermal process equipment, minimizing unplanned downtime and maximizing uptime.
  • Uniformance Cloud Historian – This software-as-a-service cloud hosting solution for enterprise-wide data capture, visualization and analysis helps customers improve asset availability, optimize processes and increase plant uptime.
  • Asset Performance Management – Integrates asset and process data for actionable insights to improve asset performance and plant profitability.
  • Immersive Competency – This cloud-based simulation offering uses a combination of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to train plant personnel on critical industrial work activities, empowering them to directly improve plant performance, uptime, reliability and safety.
  • Personal Gas Safety – This solution integrates with Honeywell’s leading plant control system to protect workers and speed emergency response in case of hazardous leaks or worker injury.
  • Intelligent Wearables – This hands-free, wearable technology allows industrial workers to more safely, reliably and efficiently accomplish their tasks in the plant or the field. It uses a head-mounted visual display that responds to voice and brings live data, documents, work procedures, as well as health and safety information into view and can connect field workers with remote experts in real time.
  • Experion Batch – Combines Experion distributed control, batch automation, and new visualization technology for improved efficiency, quality and throughput.
  • Measurement IQ for Gas – Provides measurement under control by transforming metering operations with 24/7 real-time condition-based monitoring.
National Cybersecurity Wars Require IoT Supplier Response

National Cybersecurity Wars Require IoT Supplier Response

Critical infrastructure control systems have been under cyber attack for years. Need we mention Stuxnet, the attack that brought the issue to the public eye? Pressure has been mounting on controls, automation, and IoT suppliers to protect a nation’s assets.

Siemens and eight partners signed a joint charter for greater cybersecurity at a recent Munich conference.

Highlights include:

  • Ten action areas for greater cybersecurity
  • Call for dedicated government ministries and chief information security officers
  • Independent certification for critical infrastructures and solutions in the Internet of Things

The Charter of Trust calls for binding rules and standards to build trust in cybersecurity and further advance digitalization. In addition to Siemens and the Munich Security Conference (MSC), the companies Airbus, Allianz, Daimler Group, IBM, NXP, SGS and Deutsche Telekom are signing the Charter. The initiative is further welcomed by Canadian foreign minister and G7 representative Chrystia Freeland as well as witnessed by Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

“Confidence that the security of data and networked systems is guaranteed is a key element of the digital transformation,” said Siemens President and CEO Joe Kaeser. “That’s why we have to make the digital world more secure and more trustworthy. It’s high time we acted – not just individually but jointly with strong partners who are leaders in their markets. We hope more partners will join us to further strengthen our initiative.”

The Charter delineates 10 action areas in cybersecurity where governments and businesses must both become active. It calls for responsibility for cybersecurity to be assumed at the highest levels of government and business, with the introduction of a dedicated ministry in governments and a chief information security officer at companies. It also calls for companies to establish mandatory, independent third-party certification for critical infrastructure and solutions – above all, where dangerous situations can arise, such as with autonomous vehicles or the robots of tomorrow, which will interact directly with humans during production processes. In the future, security and data protection functions are to be preconfigured as a part of technologies, and cybersecurity regulations are to be incorporated into free trade agreements. The Charter’s signatories also call for greater efforts to foster an understanding of cybersecurity through training and continuing education as well as international initiatives.

“Secure digital networks are the critical infrastructure underpinning our interconnected world,” said Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland. “Canada welcomes the efforts of these key industry players to help create a safer cyberspace. Cybersecurity will certainly be a focus of Canada’s G7 presidency year.‎”‎ The matter is also a top priority for the Munich Security Conference. “Governments must take a leadership role when it comes to the transaction rules in cyberspace,” said Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference. “But the companies that are in the forefront of envisioning and designing the future of cyberspace must develop and implement the standards. That’s why the Charter is so important. Together with our partners, we want to advance the topic and help define its content,” he added.

According to the ENISA Threat Landscape Report, cybersecurity attacks caused damage totaling more than €560 billion worldwide in 2016 alone. For some European countries, the damage was equivalent to 1.6 percent of the gross domestic product. And in a digitalized world, the threats to cybersecurity are steadily growing: According to Gartner, 8.4 billion networked devices were in use in 2017 – a 31-percent increase over 2016. By 2020, the figure is expected to reach 20.4 billion.

Edge Computing and IIoT Platforms and More At ARC Forum

Edge Computing and IIoT Platforms and More At ARC Forum

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.

Emerson Launches IIoT-Enabled Controller Taking Aim At PLCs

Emerson Launches IIoT-Enabled Controller Taking Aim At PLCs

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.

Control and Networking Make Automation News

Control and Networking Make Automation News

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.

Control

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.

Networking

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.

Foxboro Promotes Open Process Automation

Foxboro Promotes Open Process Automation

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.

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