by Gary Mintchell | Nov 23, 2022 | Automation, Networking, Process Control
Tilo Merlin holds the role of instrumentation platform manager at ABB in Frankfurt, Germany. We connected on Microsoft Teams because I was curious about the latest ABB take on what’s happening on the foundation side of the Industrial Internet of Things—networks and instrumentation.
Coming from the instrumentation world, he often referred to RS-485, that ubiquitous serial networking standard. He told me that Modbus and Modbus TCP remain popular for instrumentation networks. As is the HART serial protocol. It takes a long time to make changes in the process world, I guess.
Speaking of HART, I’ve been curious about the growth of use of the digital side of the protocol. Engineers can use just the analog side as a serial network. I’ve often heard that the digital side is seldom used. Merlin noted the digital side of HART is used mostly for commissioning and diagnostics.
Ethernet Advanced Physical Layer (APL) has gathered much publicity lately. I just wrote about ODVA releasing a conformance test meaning that developers must be getting close to releasing product.
Merlin pointed to the beauty of Ethernet that you can just add protocols to the physical layer. APL bests Ethernet POE (power over Ethernet) by requiring just two wires for power to the device as well as signal. Often the two wires already exist in the plant. This little factor reduces labor to install the new network. The network is low power, therefore intrinsically safe. ABB makes a couple of instruments that utilize power from the network. I foresee a growth in that area.
ABB finds customers wishing to separate asset management from the control system. Energy management is currently the important function of asset management. Companies don’t wish to pay for extensive engineering hours to do the programming through the control system.
I walked into a marketing topic mentioning I had talked with a customer engineering manager who pleaded with technology providers to simplify their systems. They don’t have people with time or often skills to deal with network complexity.
ABB has a marketing slogan, Measurement Made Easy. True to his engineering heritage, Merlin said at first he thought it was just marketing (don’t we all sometimes think that?). He has come to experience the truth of the vision. They are working to make things simple as the app on your smart phone.
by Gary Mintchell | Nov 9, 2022 | Automation, Capital Projects, News, Process Control
Taking environmental issues and carbon reduction out of the political arena and placing among those who can actually do something promotes good stewardship—and good business. Check out The Carbon Almanac (click the photo on the web page). This book contains a wealth of facts and action items for us all.
The major automation technology providers have invented and unleashed many ways customers can reduce carbon footprint. This research from ABB shows how offshore companies can reduce global carbon emissions by 300,000 tons per site per year, the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road.
- Moving to autonomous operations increases reliability and predictability of energy supply
- Annual savings of up to $30 million can be achieved
ABB has published another of its ‘Energy Transition Equation’ reports that shows how industrial customers can reduce carbon emissions and manage the energy transition for a more sustainable future.
Based on nine months of research and modelling, the report highlights how early adoption and integration of automation, digitalization, and electrification technologies to enable autonomous operations can deliver savings of over 300,000 tons of carbon emissions per annum for offshore sites (approximately 25 percent reduction). This is the equivalent of removing 150,000 combustion cars from the road and is the same volume of CO2 responsible for five million tons of glacier mass lost each year.
The report also demonstrates how companies can realize production efficiencies of up to $30 million in annual savings, while delivering net revenue increases of up to $120,000, thanks to autonomous operations.
A key part of this is redeploying companies’ offshore workforces, moving them from hazardous roles into new ones onshore. In doing so, employers can offer safer working environments, a better work-life balance and fill industry talents gaps by reskilling employees to support a data-led approach to oil and gas exploration and production.
In 2021, ABB reduced its own CO2 emissions by 39 percent as part of its Sustainability Strategy 2030 and expects to be fully carbon neutral by decade’s end. The strategy details how ABB will support its global customers in reducing their annual CO2 emissions by at least 100 megatons by 2030, the equivalent of removing 30 million combustion cars from the roads.
The report’s economic modelling was undertaken by independent economist Steve Lucas of Developmental Economics, in conjunction with ABB Energy Industries and supported with desktop research of academic and industry sources. ABB will publish reports focused on the power and chemicals markets in 2023.
Notes to editors
These figures are based upon hypothetical scenarios of a 1 x 150000 barrel a day (oil) FPSO and a 1 x 150000 barrel (oil) Fixed Platform. Both assume an operational life cycle of 15 years with a 5-year development phase. Some have been rounded out for the purpose of the press release – exact calculations and figures can be found in the report or can be downloaded here.
by Gary Mintchell | Oct 31, 2022 | Automation, Data Management, Manufacturing IT, Networking, Process Control, Services, Software
The control and automation market I’ve been in since the late 90s has definitely become a software market. Yes, the main players that remain do still have their legacy controllers, instrumentation, sensors, and networking. The excitement that remains is mainly software and services. Domain expertise within the supplier community becomes increasingly important.
I was coming off a vacation (not planned by me) and couldn’t work out the logistics of making it to Dallas. I kept up with things through press releases and reports from social media guru Jim Cahill. I survived missing presentations by the inimitable CTO Peter Zornio. News came through, anyway.
Announcement summaries follow.
This next-generation architecture will empower companies through “boundless automation” to manage, connect and deliver operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) data seamlessly and easily across the enterprise. Moving data freely and securely across OT and IT domains – from the intelligent field to the edge and cloud – will enable operational and business performance optimization across the enterprise.
It really is all about the data.
Check out Jim Cahill’s report.
- Emerson’s Latest Control System Update Lays Foundation for Software-Driven, Data-Centric Automation Platform
- DeltaV version 15 helps drive faster, easier digital transformation to accelerate IT/OT convergence, enabling easy upgrades and modernization
PlantWeb plus recent acquisition AspenTech = Emerson’s Plantweb digital ecosystem, optimized by AspenTech, enables industrial manufacturers across all industries to “See, Decide, Act and Optimize” their operations. Leveraging a robust suite of sensors, software and control technologies, Plantweb now enables companies to optimize the business and sustainability performance of their plants and enterprise through advanced asset and business optimization software.
Movicon.NExT 4.2 is a flexible, modular platform that provides local HMI, supervision and analytics that scale from small IIoT or WebHMI applications on embedded Linux devices to large Windows server systems, allowing users to achieve sustainability and performance improvements, one step at a time, easily and cost effectively.
Emerson has released DeltaV IO.CONNECT, a new subscription software service designed to help plants simplify modernization with an open architecture pathway that makes it possible to transition to more efficient control schemes without the need to completely overhaul existing infrastructure. In a traditional plant with tens of thousands of I/O points and many controllers, this can save hundreds or thousands of hours of labor and up to 40% of the capital required for a total rip-and-replace upgrade.
Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), a regulated subsidiary of Sempra, has selected Emerson’s digital technologies, software and services to demonstrate the resiliency and reliability of its new [H2] Innovation Experience in Southern California. One of the first microgrid projects of its kind in the United States, the [H2] Innovation Experience is a technology demonstration that aims to show how carbon-free gas made from renewable electricity can be used in pure form or as a blend to fuel clean energy systems of the future.
by Gary Mintchell | Sep 30, 2022 | Automation, News, Process Control, Technology
The large process automation suppliers are racing for leadership in green hydrogen production. You could search hydrogen on the blog to see the latest news. This one updates a new initiative by ABB Ventures.
- ABB and Hydrogen Optimized announced a collaboration that positions companies for global leadership in large-scale green hydrogen production systems.
- Combined technological offerings will include Hydrogen Optimized’s RuggedCell high-power water electrolyzers and ABB’s high-power rectifiers.
- The two companies consolidated their alliance with a new commercial agreement signed at a hydrogen trade show in Stephenville, Newfoundland, attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
- This includes an investment by ABB into Key DH Technologies Inc. (KEY), the parent company of HOI
- Global electrolyzer capacity will reach an estimated 3,100 gigawatts by 2050, according to a June 2022 report published by DNV. The group forecasts that electricity-based green hydrogen will be the dominant form of hydrogen production by the middle of this century, accounting for 72 percent of output.
by Gary Mintchell | Sep 9, 2022 | Automation, Process Control, Security, Technology
At the start of the Ukraine conflict, CISA issued a “Shields Up” alert to all critical infrastructure in an effort to stave off potential cyber attacks from Russia. 6 months later, the proverbial “shields” are still up but is the U.S. critical infrastructure more secure because of it?
I was wondering if I should have more security than I have being a manufacturing and industrial site. Indeed I saw a sharp peak of hits from Russia and Ukraine at the outset of the war. But it was only a blip. But what if I weren’t a media site but a critical infrastructure site?
Security information comes at me faster than to my friend Greg Hale who specializes on the subject at Industrial Safety and Security Source. Recently I talked with Ron Fabela, CTO of critical infrastructure cybersecurity firm, SynSaber. This company is working directly with operators across oil & gas, electric, water infrastructure and nuclear to maintain a “Shields Up” posture.
More than six months has passed since the initial flurry of war and increased cyber attacks in the US. I wondered what the state of “Shields Up” was these days. Have we kept up the urgency? Or have we learned to live with it?
Ron suggested that astute executives should have used the directives to get some much needed budget. He pointed out that one cannot sustain a high alert indefinitely. And that IT and security executives should not over hype the situation. Still, when attention is suddenly focused on a risk area, it makes sense to lay a plan and ask for budget to implement strategies. Plus, sometimes the government brings money with its directives, something that is always a big help.
Expanding on the topic, like its peers, SynSaber initiated a study to discover what reported Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) could tell us from the 681 CVEs reported via the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) ICS Advisories in the first half of 2022.
Breaking up the reported CVEs into remediation categories (i.e., can it be patched with software, a firmware update, or something more complex requiring protocol or whole system changes) or taking a look at attack vector requirements can provide critical insights for teams to assess these and future CVEs as they are reported.
We hope that by analyzing and counting these vulnerabilities with new methods, this context can be used by all industrial security teams to better understand and remediate future vulnerabilities.
● For the CVEs reported in 2022, 13% have no patch or remediation currently available from the vendor (and 34% require a firmware update)
● While 56% of the CVEs have been reported by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), 42% have been submitted by security vendors and independent researchers (remaining 2% were reported directly by an asset owner and a government CERT)
● 23% of the CVEs require local or physical access to the system in order to exploit
● Of the CVEs reported thus far in 2022, 41% can and should be prioritized and addressed first (with organization and vendor planning)
by Gary Mintchell | Aug 9, 2022 | Automation, Capital Projects, Process Control
Sustainability continues its strong trend among industrial and manufacturing companies. This story concerns Emerson and Albioma regarding biomass.
Global technology and software company Emerson has been selected by Albioma, a French independent energy provider, to help transition its coal-fired Bois Rouge plant to 100% renewable energy. As part of Albioma’s wider mission to transition all of its existing fossil fuel plants to renewable energy, Emerson’s automation systems and software will enable the coal-fired power station to convert to biomass feedstock.
The multi-million-dollar project is the latest example of how Emerson technologies are helping customers accelerate their transition to more sustainable energy. The power plant, one of three that Albioma operates on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean, will be converted to use 100% biomass wood pellets. The overhaul of the 108-megawatt facility will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 640,000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year, an 84% decrease in direct emissions compared to current operating levels.
The Bois Rouge plant consists of three generating units. Two units are already controlled by Emerson’s Ovation™ distributed control system, which will be modified for use with biomass feedstock, and the third unit will be replaced with a new Ovation system. The units will also be modernized with new turbine protection and health monitoring systems, safety systems for the boilers, and upgraded boiler control elements and instrumentation.
To ensure the project is completed within the available timeframe – a critical requirement of Albioma – Emerson will provide its Project Certainty methodologies, digital technologies and software expertise. In addition to delivering local engineering support for the project, Emerson will provide its Remote Virtual Office (RVO) collaboration platform – a secure virtual engineering and testing environment that will enable Albioma to access Emerson’s resources and ongoing support to reduce project risk and costs.