New Tools Simplify Machinery Safety-System Design

If there is anything certain concerning the near future of automation, it is that we’re facing a drastically changing workforce. Tools that bring new engineers, operators and technicians up to speed quickly will become an essential part of a supplier’s portfolio.

When I took my first class regarding determining safety SIL levels and evaluating a machine for its various risks and hazards, I knew that engineering help would be useful. Rockwell Automation has released two new tools to help machine and equipment builders (OEMs), and manufacturers save time when designing machinery safety systems. The Rockwell Automation Safety Automation Builder (SAB) configuration software and Safety Functions pre-engineered design documents help users navigate the safety-system design process and apply best practices.

The SAB tool is available as a free download from the Rockwell Automation website. It guides manufacturers through the safety-system design process by providing options for layout, safety performance level (PL) analysis based on ISO 13849-1 using IFA’s SISTEMA (Safety Integrity Software Tool for Evaluation of Machine Applications), and product selection using Allen-Bradley safety-automation products.

Follow this link to Rockwell’s Safety Automation Builder Website to learn more.

ARC Forum 2013: Invensys Emphasizes Safety

Invensys Operations Management packed its press conference time with safety news. In many ways, this is refreshing as well as a validation of bringing in Mike Caliel to take the reins. To be fair, the developments were probably in the pipeline for a while. But Caliel’s main challenge was to bring stability and focus to a fractured assemblage of divisions. That seems to be going well.

Software Tools

The Triconex Safety View solution is the said to be the world’s first software for effective alarm and bypass management certified by TÜV Rheinland to IEC61508 Systematic Capability 3 for use in applications up to Safety Integrity Level 3. Additionally, the company’s Triconex Trident and Triconex General Purpose safety instrumented systems now support OPC Universal Architecture for greater communications connectivity.

“Changing market dynamics and emerging technologies require a fundamental rethinking of how companies will manage their operations today and in the future,” said Gary Freburger, president of the company’s Systems business. “To address these new and ever-more complicated challenges, companies need to become more agile without jeopardizing plant safety. Our new Triconex products provide this agility by reducing risks when bypassing safety systems during startup and shutdown, as well as the risks associated with integrating safety systems across different vendor platforms. In addition, they provide a pathway for modernizing existing plant operations, one that links business processes with production processes; removes traditional barriers to collaboration; and empowers our customers’ most valuable resource – their people.”

Safety View improves situational awareness and broadens visibility into the risks that come with system startups, shutdowns and other critical process transitions that must be managed by plant personnel. It draws attention to changes in process conditions that require immediate attention, giving operators, maintenance engineers and shift personnel better visibility into the process so they can take actions that reduce risk, optimize total cost of ownership and increase overall asset performance. It is built on the company’s ArchestrA System Platform and Wonderware InTouch HMI software, which have been adapted specifically for use in safety applications.

OPC UA

Invensys has also embedded OPC UA communications in its Triconex Trident and Triconex General Purpose safety instrumented systems. OPC UA maximizes interoperability between systems and streamlines connectivity through open platform architecture and future-proof design. The new communications interface module contains an embedded OPC UA server that supports up to 10 concurrent clients, delivering high performance and secure, reliable communication of real-time data, alarms and historical events.

“The addition of OPC UA communications reinforces our commitment to providing secure, reliable and future-proof communications that seamlessly integrate our market-leading safety systems with various distributed control systems, programmable logic controllers, HMIs and other plant assets,” said Steve Elliott, director of Triconex product management for Invensys. “This freedom of choice allows clients to select the best of the best for their control and safety needs without compromising performance.”

OPC UA provides a single communications solution from the device level to the enterprise level, maintaining platform independence without sacrificing performance. It provides better interoperability (complete with certification); reliability by design; access via firewalls and across the internet; and reduced configuration time with built-in information and security models.

Controller

The Triconex General Purpose system is a SIL2-certified high availability, fail-safe and fault-tolerant controller. Redundancy, diagnostics, error checking and failure modes are all built into the system as standard. No knowledge or understanding of redundancy is required to make the system work. Users simply just wire up the inputs and outputs and then write the logic for the piece of equipment they need to control or protect. The Trident General Purpose system does the rest. And there is no single point of failure and very high mean time between failure rates.

The latest version also features OPC Universal Architecture communications connectivity, which maximizes interoperability between systems and streamlines connectivity through open platform architecture and future-proof design. The new communications interface module contains an embedded OPC UA server to provide a cohesive, secure and reliable cross-platform framework for real-time data, alarms and events. It also implements X.509 certificates for additional, enhanced security protection.

Key Capabilities:
• Control and safety in one package;
• Simple and easy to use, requiring less engineering than PLC’s;
• No need to program redundancy and fail-over functions;
• No need to program diagnostics or failure modes;
• No need for external diagnostics, such as watchdog timers;
• No need for calibration of analogue inputs;
• No need for testing of failover redundancy;
• Simple to maintain and fault find;
• Transparent Fault Tolerant Operation (triplication is seamless to users);
• Standard design delivers repeatable, maintainable and supportable solutions;
• Lowest overall lifecycle costs.

Safety First To Protect Industrial Workers

I’ve been incredibly busy the last couple of weeks. I’m accumulating a few things to blog about.

Just off the WebEx on a new announcement from Yokogawa for the CentumVP Release 5. 4x faster, 2x more capacity, 5x faster communications–all for about the same price. That’s cool, but it’s also what we jaundiced technology people expect. I don’t have the press release, yet. More at Automation World when I get it.

I have written recently about checklists. Perhaps the best self-management tool is the to-do list. Or in the case of Getting Things Done (GTD), multiple lists based upon where you are. The other aspect of GTD is capturing everything in order to get it off your mind. I’ve been using an application called Thinking Rock. Gradually I noticed I wasn’t using it. All of who have done automation projects know that if you don’t make it usable, then it won’t be used.

I’ve recently switched to an online GTD application called Nozbe. I find I’m really using it. Now to check off those items!

A friend of mine is an insurance adjustor. He sent these pictures to me. Do you recognize anyone in these? Not the exact person, but the situation. In my career in plants and factories, I’ve seen too many things like these. People seem to be behaving more safely these days. I hope they keep it up.

 

 

 

 

Importance of Operator Training

I’ve been reading several reports this morning about the pilots’ actions during that Air France flight 447 disaster. I’m also putting this in context with the talk First Officer Jeffrey Skiles gave at a user conference (I cannot find my original blog post) who was one of the pilots on the US Airways flight that landed in the Hudson River.

Skiles talked in detail about the training flight crews undergo and how they are trained in how to act, what to say, who’s in charge,  and so on. This was related to what we need to do in process automation especially with our operators to provide great training with simulation, appropriate visualization into the processes and explicit procedures on how to act with each type of incident.

According to reports coming out today, the Air France crew did not react to the situation with the same coordinated and procedural actions exhibited by the US Airways crew.

This shows the need for vigilance, preparation and constant training for our plant personnel. Never let up.

Industrial Automation Competition

I surely miss the heady days of the PC-based control marketing and technology wars. Smart, passionate people. Missing the marketing sweet spot and not recognizing the resiliance of the incumbants, but still great days.

Then there were the early days of the vision sensor wars. DVT v Cognex. Prices dropping. Ease-of-use constantly improving. Technology advances. Smart, passionate people. Ah, those days are gone as DVT sold out to Cognex and the market opened to a myriad of competition.

Now it’s safety. And principally Siemens and Rockwell, but ABB also gets a nod. A year ago, I wrote about ABB making an investment and Rockwell’s annointing as top overall safety supplier leader by analyst firm ARC Advisory Group.

Now, Siemens has reason to boast. ARC ranks Siemens at the top globally in machine safeguarding solutions.

“We are dedicated to remaining a market leader in the development of innovative products and solutions in the machine safeguarding category,” says Raj Batra, president, Industry Automation Division for Siemens Industry, Inc.  “Our knowledge base of Totally Integrated Automation (TIA), coupled with a wide spectrum of products such as SIMATIC controllers, switches and relays, SINUMERIK motion controls and SIRIUS safety relays, provide Siemens with a solid foundation to continue servicing the needs of our current and future customers,” adds Batra.

The ARC study outlines the machine safeguarding sector, or solutions that evaluate equipment from a task-oriented perspective (operator interaction) and incorporates safety functions that effectively minimize the risk of operator injury. ARC has provided five year forecasts in order to show long-term trends in the machine safeguarding solutions marketplace, and regularly updates these forecasts based on changes in technology and global economic conditions.

I love competition.

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