1 December 2003
ALL AHEAD FULL
Evidence shows industry picking up steam.
You could almost hear the collective “whew” from attendees and exhibitors in Houston. ISA EXPO 2003 was a hit. Does that mean we are in the process of a complete industry turnaround? It may be just a bit too early to tell, but the show was a strong shot in the arm for a roiling industry that has been struggling over the past three or four years.
Just listen to the executives and other industry watchers as they said they saw signs that business appears to be slowly gaining momentum once again.
Not only that, economic indicators continue to show positive signs in the manufacturing industry. The economy is starting to climb a positive slope; manufacturing and employment are in tow.
“Double-digit growth is just around the corner within the next twelve months,” Invensys’ chief operating officer Leo Quinn said.
Mike Bradley Sr., president of Invensys’ Wonderware subsidiary, said his organization is seeing double-digit growth already. He said companies want to enhance what they already have, but they will buy if they can purchase a product that adds value, but doesn’t have a huge price tag.
Martin Neil, marketing manager at +GF+Signet, of El Monte, Calif., said the Americas are showing some growth, but Asia is really being “driven by the boom in China.”
Whether it is oil or pharmaceuticals or chemicals, all say business is picking up.
“Our customer list includes process companies across the board—chemical manufacturers, the big-name refiners, pharmaceuticals. We’re seeing business picking up in most areas,” said Dave Smith, marketing mentor for OSIsoft, a twenty-two-year-old California-based company offering Microsoft real-time performance management software.
Several systems integrators, including exhibitor James-Mangan Automation of Lake Jackson, Texas, reported experiencing pickup in pharmaceutical, pipeline, and refining applications.
Technology-focused companies, such as Cisco and Microsoft, said they are seeing demand from manufacturers seeking to optimize processes.
Don Richardson, Microsoft’s director of manufacturing industries, said asset management is big right now. The industry needs to get “more efficient operations,” he said.
“Speed and agility are the determining factors for success in today’s marketplace,” according to a Cisco white paper, entitled Perspectives on E-Manufacturing for Today’s Industrial Manufacturers, released at the show. Companies must contend with continuing economic challenges, political uncertainty, and an aging workforce.
“Today’s customers are more demanding. They want products quicker, with improved quality, and at very competitive prices. They also want to be able to configure or package these products based on specific needs and requirements,” Cisco’s research indicates.
But some companies say their crystal ball is not so clear.
“For Iconics, business is strange,” said Russ Agrusa, president and chief executive officer of the Web-enabled industrial automation software firm. “When there is a recession, that’s when we seem to do our best. We’re seeing double-digit growth—up 26% for the first quarter, ended 31 August.”
Process control consultant John Shaw said his business was doing well during the downturn. “It was sort of like the coffin maker whose business boomed when a lot of people died. I was stripping paper mills that went out of business and incorporating their parts and operations into mills that bought them.”
Mark DeCramer, product manager for advanced electronics at WAGO, said “demand [for Ethernet] is immense.” He said the oil and gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, and food and beverage industries are all doing well.
As with other shows, wireless is a huge issue these days. Tod Riedel, co-founder and senior vice president of marketing and business development for Millennial Net in Cambridge, Mass., said his company’s wireless sensor network is essentially a mesh network for companies. His start-up company focuses on five different areas: building industrial automation, automatic meter reading, security and defense, supply chain management, and remote health management.
Davis Mathews at Phoenix Contact agreed that “wireless is a big issue right now” around the industry. He said after talking with end users, his company decided to work on a new point-to-multipoint wireless product.
For Bluetooth, “interest is great,” said Liz Benditt, membership program manager for the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), headquartered in Overland Park, Kan. “We’re seeing a lot of companies interested in Bluetooth applications.” Bluetooth SIG members driving the technology include 3Com, Agere, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, and Toshiba.
Security remains a hot topic throughout the industry. This year, the ISA technical conference had a dedicated track called Industrial Network Security Symposium.
Justin Lowe, a control system specialist at BP reported on the key control system standards BP is developing internally. He sees threatening trends in that systems are moving Web-ward; they’re moving to wireless; Internet protocol is networking into programmable logic controllers, and usage is increasing; and the fact that emergency shutdown systems are a part of—sometimes inadvertently—the main control systems.
He anticipates the development of international standards to help manage control systems security. He wants to see security of products become more of a design consideration, above and beyond the product function.
He wants companies to proactively examine their own products on a continuous basis and to issue regular alerts regarding the security of a product and its susceptibility to outside tampering.
Eric Byres, research leader at the Internet Engineering Lab at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Jim Bauhs, a networking specialist at Cargill, talked next about the schism between the plant floor and information technology (IT).
Bauhs said IT and industrial control engineers have a common and dangerous enemy and their differences are much smaller than they think. He laid out a program for companies to reconcile and integrate the two departments.
Byres had anecdotes that highlighted the struggle between the two departments. He cited some downright vi-cious Web logs of the two groups attacking one another.
Earlier this month Byres testified before the U.S. Congress on supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Byres is currently the working group chair of the ISA SP-99 Security Technologies Working Group, which is focusing on an international framework for the protection of facilities from cyberattack. “The bottom line is—SCADA systems are difficult to get into, but they can be infiltrated,” Byres told the subcommittee members. “Once inside, there is virtually no protection.” IT
Compiled from reports by Ellen Fussell, Nicholas Sheble, Jim Strothman, and Gregory Hale.
COMPANIES UNVEIL THEIR WARES
Accutech announced key components now available for a system package—following on the heels of its recently announced integrated wireless measurement, monitoring, and data acquisition system. The offerings now include seven models of integrated wireless field units, compact base radios to communicate with all deployed field units and to interface with existing control systems, and the Wireless Instrumentation Manager version 1.1 software package for real-time monitoring, data acquisition, reporting, and network management.
Acromag boasted its Ethernet I/O modules that feature high density, low installation costs, and easy Web-based configuration. The new BusWorks 900EN Series I/O modules interface analog and discrete I/O signals directly to an Ethernet Modbus/TCP 10/100-Mbps network.
Ametek introduced its Promaxion process mass spectrometer, which optimizes dryer end-point detection in pharmaceutical manufacture. It provides pharmaceutical manufacturers with a system for continuous real-time monitoring and control of their solvent drying processes by allowing manufacturers to pinpoint, without operator intervention, the exact moment when a product has dried as much as possible. It works by monitoring solvent vapors in the headspace of the dryer.
ASCO unveiled its valve monitoring systems for the process and automation industry—a combination of visual indicators and network communications designed to provide improved reliability and safety for process valves, while meeting the rugged requirements of the process industry.
Ashcroft revealed its N-Series electronic indicating pressure switch, which provides pressure indication and switch functions in one package. It now adds transmission capability to the package with a 4–20 mA output signal. By observing the values on a big, bright light-emitting diode (LED) display, users can easily toggle between process pressure, set point, and reset point.
Clark-Reliance Corp. introduced the Jerguson flat glass LED illuminator backlighting unit for transparent level gages. It provides brilliant illumination and offers an indefinite bulb life of more than eight years. This LED illuminator does not depend on a single light source. It has a redundant array of LED lights approximately every ½ inch to ensure multiple bulbs are available for a bright, even distribution of light.
Datastick Systems unveiled its new DAS-1257 spectrum and data acquisition module. It’s a lightweight, portable fast Fourier transform (FFT) analysis system for testing vibration and power on Palm handhelds. The 12-bit spectrum and data acquisition module has four analog channels and one digital counter input channel.
Digital Networks revealed a device communications server that provides network managers with multiple ways to remotely and securely access managed networks from any location worldwide. Security features allow information technology professionals to remotely access and manage devices with greater control and assurance. CServer offers secure clustering for up to 1,024 devices, SSH v2 (secure shell), RADIUS authentication, IPSec, IP filtering, and user access lists per port.
Drallium Controls announced the Smart Valve Monitoring (SVM) system, designed for applications where emergency shutdown valve (ESDV) testing is required to comply with ISA 84.01 and IEC 61508 directives. Smart Valve Monitoring will monitor an ESDV for faults, based on comparing an original full-closure footprint of the ESDV assembly and components such as solenoid valves against a partial stroke test. The SVM system performs all tests at the ESDV’s designed closure speed, without affecting the process operation or production.
Electronic Systems Technology released its ESTeem product line of wireless modems—specifically the radio frequency design program, a software program that will help design a wireless radio frequency system and analyze the system performance before installation. It will help anyone with or without radio experience who wants to know how to design a licensed narrow band, unlicensed spread spectrum, or Ethernet spread spectrum radio system and intelligently select vendor hardware for the application.
ExperTune announced the general availability of a new expert system—the Control Consultant—as an integral part of their flagship product, PlantTriage. The Control Consultant was developed in conjunction with Greg Shinskey, a process control expert. This addition enhances and simplifies the ongoing maintenance of the entire control system infrastructure. ExperTune’s full suite of optimization tools is designed to increase the efficiency process.
Falconeer Technologies Company LLC was on hand to demonstrate its software and services that permit manufacturers to gain the full value of underused process information their control systems already collect. They provide sensor/process validation and predictive fault analysis software for control systems. They introduced their latest version, FALCONEER III, last spring.
Fieldserver Technologies introduced the new Model FS-B2010 Bridge, a protocol translator gateway linking a serial device to an Ethernet system. It enables devices using one protocol to communicate with devices using another protocol. An example is a fire alarm panel using a proprietary manufacturer’s protocol that needs to supply alarm information to a building automation system.
Flukegave a glimpse of its 744 process calibrator to support more transmitters from leading manufacturers. It’s an integration of multifunction calibration and HART communication capability in a handheld package. The 744 DPC with new V2.3 software features device-specific calibration support for new revisions of currently supported transmitters as well as new temperature and pressure transmitters.
GE Druck released its new handheld test tools. The DPI 800 Series provides a range of process test and calibration solutions in a single/dual function handheld instrument. It has a rubberized outer shell and an intuitive menu-driven interface backed by precision measurement technologies. The DPI 800/802 pressure indicator and calibrator feature the new intelligent digital output sensor technology with ranges from 10 in H20 to 10,000 psi with enhanced accuracy to 0.01% of full scale.
George Fischer, Inc. introduced its multiparameter controller (+GF+SIGNET 8900). It includes two base units, one with backlit LCD and the other with vacuum fluorescent display. You can configure this controller with a variety of I/O options. Achieve ultimate flexibility with plug-in modules for either two or four input channels, universal alternating current line voltage or 12 to 24 volts DC operation, up to four analog outputs, and up to eight relays.
Invensysselected three companies to receive free Foxboro CFT50 digital Coriolis flowmeters as a result of their applications for the “Bring it On” challenge. Process engineers submitted their toughest Coriolis mass flow metering applications. All selected applications represented a flow measurement problem created by two-phase flow (the simultaneous presence of liquid and gas) in their process. In each situation, two-phase flow was impacting performance in a key area of their operation. Selected companies included a PVC resin manufacturer, a chemical processor, and a specialty oils producer.
Microsoft announced its plans to combine its platform, technology, and enterprise products with Invensys’ strengths in process and manufacturing applications. The alliance will drive a new generation of Invensys solutions to provide manufacturers with real-time visibility in their plant environments and supply chains.
MTS announced its M Series digital sensor for aboveground storage tanks. These magnetostrictive liquid level gauges for spherical storage tanks are available in digitally directed analog (DDA) output or a Modbus version for increased programming capabilities.
National Instruments’ new FBUS-HSE/HI Fieldbus High-speed Ethernet (HSE) linking device allows process industrial engineers to extend plantwide control applications to include Ethernet capabilities to show how engineers can fully integrate sensor, process, discrete, hybrid, and batch control subsystems with higher level supervisory applications.
Yokogawa announced its new Exapilot R3.01 version of its knowledge management software package. New features include support for both Windows XP and Windows 2000, enhancements in advanced alarm function, and an addition of special purpose unit procedures.
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