1 May 2002
Power grid: The next generation
Technologists to emerge, enlighten at October’s ISA 2002.
Security, Web collaboration, wireless technology, Ethernet, and e-manufacturing merely dot the horizon against the landscape of instrumentation, systems, and automation topics covered at ISA 2002, to be held 21–24 October 2002 at the McCormick Center in Chicago.
SHAPING POWER INDUSTRY
Keynote speaker Paul Wattelet will focus on the outlook for the power industry, sharing insights on the issues shaping the industry’s business environment. Such issues include federal energy policy, deregulation, and air quality control regulations; the prospects for nuclear and coal-fired power plants as new generation options; gas-fired peaker plants, which generate power during peak periods, and combined-cycle plants; and the overall outlook for the power delivery market. Wattelet, who is chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Sargent & Lundy LLC, a Chicago-based international power engineering consulting firm, has spent 35 years in the power engineering industry.
In his presentation, Wattelet will review the challenges hindering the generation and distribution of electric power: political changes (energy policy and political pressures facing the electric power industry), regulatory challenges, competitive challenges, and technical issues. Wattelet gave an example of the political issues he’ll explore. “Fundamentally, there’s coal-fired, gas-fired, and nuclear power in the country,” he said. The issue surrounding coal-fired energy is environmental air quality, while nuclear power brings up public safety issues, and gas power elicits the issue of reserves and prices, he said.
As far as the competitive issues, “The whole industry is concerned with having built an overcapacity of new generation plants,” he said. “So they’re projecting a flattening of new capacity while we absorb what’s been put in recently.”
Wattelet will also address political nuclear discussions heating up in the news. “These days, used fuel storage is the latest euphemism for nuclear waste. The recent approval of the Yucca Mountain repository of the Bush administration will try to ease the pressures. All this used fuel is being stored, and there’s a need to get this fuel off those sites. They’re running out of places to put it.”
He will also touch on the nuclear security issues that have surfaced in the past year.
This year’s Rimbach speaker, Regis McKenna, helped launch important technological innovations during the past 26 years: the first microprocessor out of Intel Corp., the first PC from Apple Computer, and the first recombinant DNA genetically engineered product out of Genentech, Inc. In the past decade, he’s consulted technology-based firms in the U.S. and Japan on strategic marketing and business issues.
McKenna, president of global strategy consulting firm The McKenna Group in Mountain View, Calif., will explore the future of marketing as he described it in his book, Total Access. Instead of focusing on one-way broadcast messages and promotional tactics to convince customers they need a product, marketers should emulate McKenna’s concept of persistent presence, which requires them to build long-term relationships with customers, integrating technology to deliver total access to customers.
“Marketing has evolved into an ever more complex cluster of relationships connected by an equally complex information network,” McKenna said. “Information, customer expectations and satisfaction, and brand must operate as inseparable, closely interrelated partners.”
This year’s conference will partner with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the American Institute of Physics to present the eighth Temperature Symposium, a forum to present and publish work related to the measurement and control of temperature. Topics range from fundamental research on temperature scales to practical measurement or control solutions in various fields. Paper presentations are planned to cover aspects of thermometry, such as thermodynamic, radiation, optical, cryogenic, geophysical, space and astrophysics, food processing, and semiconductor processing. Other topics may cover calibration methods, fixed points, and temperature scales.
The Emerging Technologies Conference is a major aspect of this year’s show, focusing on communication and security; advances in sensors, control, and automation; manufacturing and design; and biomedical technology.
Wireless palm held
Walt Wick from Beverly Hills, Mich.–based IDC Consultants will share his knowledge of wireless palm-held technology. He’ll present a self-contained, computerized, bar-code program to reduce the cost of typical in-plant maintenance and improve manufacturing quality. The presentation will focus on safety management, job descriptions, work orders, inventory management, and trend analysis.
“Goal setting must be a part of the manufacturer/contractor relationship and thus be quantifiable and realistic,” Wick said in his abstract. “Preventive maintenance is often the most ignored aspect of manufacturing in order to get the production numbers off the shipping dock. This program will lead to a more harmonious relationship of shipping parts and producing them in a less costly environment.”
Eric Byers from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, British Columbia, will talk about network security risks to industrial control systems. “Over the past 10 years, industrial control systems have seen a substantial increase in the use of computer networks to transfer information from the plant floor to supervisory and business computer systems,” Byers said.
At the same time, the explosion in using Ethernet and TCP/IP for process control functions has resulted in easier interfacing of industrial equipment. “But there’s now less isolation from the outside world,” he said.
Network security problems from the business network can be passed on to the process network through this business process interface, seriously impacting production and posing a risk to human safety. In his presentation, Byers will reveal reported incidents in industrial environments of accidental and malicious intrusion. He’ll then describe a series of tests to determine possible security weaknesses in common programmable logic controllers and present recommendations.
Advancements in sensors is another key topic at this year’s show. Walt Pastorius from LMI Technologies in Delta, British Columbia, will explore the uses of vision sensors for hostile environments. His paper provides an update of in-process monitoring applications for vision sensors in manufacturing environments such as arc and spot welding, molten metal pouring, wood processing, and electronics.
“In-process sensing provides unique opportunities for rapid response to process variations, root cause analysis, and even closed loop control,” he said. “Each in-process monitoring environment has its own specific needs regarding sensor performance specifications, environmental factors, operator interface requirements, and different industrial practices.”
Pastorius will describe typical user interfaces, including integrated systems capabilities. He’ll explain how to package vision sensors to survive harsh environments such as high temperature and high electromagnetic fields and metal splatter found near weld guns, dirty environments, and saw mill applications operating in high ambient light levels.
Scott Billington from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta will expound on the development of a new algorithm for precise measurement based on microwave/radar technology. “The new sensor uses a stereo output continuous wave microwave source to achieve precise subwavelength position resolution,” Billington said. “The resulting algorithm allows the sensor system to provide real-time continuous measurement at over 250 kilohertz of bandwidth.”
Advantages of the new radar sensor over conventional noncontact position sensors include eddy current proximity probes, capacitive gauges, and laser-based systems. “The system is primarily suited to measuring metallic targets,” he said. Radio/microwaves in particular are used in measurement tasks performed in hostile environments that deal with interference of nonmetallic materials—plastics, fluids, and dirt—he said. In his presentation, Billington will use radar to show the derivations of this algorithm for position measurement.
Harold Nelson of Lockheed Martin Information Systems in Orlando, Fla., will present his paper in the advanced control and automation category. The paper describes the network architecture that could be used in a shipboard or plant distributed control system.
“Each device in an ideal DCS will have an embedded processor with a network interface,” he said. “Each would appear as a node on the network, with the intelligence to make control decisions. The nodes will communicate in a peer-to-peer fashion, reducing the need for centralized control while reducing the manpower required to operate and maintain the system through increased automation.”
Nelson will present different distributed control system network architectures that would best be suited for a plant or shipboard machinery control system.
Silicon wafer manufacturing
Device relationship management and e-diagnostics are the focus of George Heath’s presentation. “With hundreds of machines in a typical fab [silicon wafer manufacturing plant], increasing uptime on a single machine can save a fab $100,000 an hour,” said Heath of Axeda Systems Inc. in Mansfield, Mass.
To support the industry’s efforts to reduce equipment downtime, International Sematech developed guidelines for an e-diagnostics initiative: open Internet-based access to equipment in a fab by the suppliers responsible for supporting it. Heath will detail his company’s role in the initiative and explain how economics will ultimately drive equipment suppliers and chip makers “to accelerate the adoption of e-diagnostics in the semiconductor industry.” IT
Behind the byline
Ellen Fussell is assistant editor, InTech.