1 July 2002
Automation authorities assay in assemblage
By Ellen Fussell
A breath of fresh air in the windy city.
Imagine touring in one day a trail through wilderness ecosystemsóthe savanna, a coastal mangrove, a subtropical thorn scrub, an ocean cliff overlook, and the coastal fog desertóthen down a 150-foot underground tunnel that leads into a geodesic dome. That's just a glimpse into a new "World of Discovery" tour, a 3.1-acre "living laboratory" inside the Biosphere 2 Center in Oracle, Ariz. The tour is part of the Biosphere 2 project initiated in the 1980s to discover whether eight people could live in a sealed, energy-rich environment. The project is also the subject of Christopher T. Bannon's Thursday presentation at the ISA 2002 conference and exhibition, 21-24 October 2002 in Chicago.
The university began an advisory role in the early 1990s and has now accepted full responsibility for the research and education on the site through 2010. Bannon, the center's chief of staff and vice president of operations and facilities at Columbia University's Biosphere 2 Center, will discuss the strategic initiatives and campus activities surrounding the Biosphere 2 project: master planning, construction, facilities management, community relations, and public outreach.
Other technical experts like Bannon, business builders, and futuristic innovators will capture show goers' attention during a week of presentations and tutorials.
Monday's keynote speakerPaul Wattelet, chairman, president, and CEO for Sargent & Lunday LLCwill delve into the electric power industry to talk about challenges in generating and distributing electric power. Some of these include political issues such as those surrounding coal-fired energy and environmental air quality, safety issues in nuclear power, and issues of reserves and prices in gas power. Concerns over having "built an overcapacity of new generation plants," as well as concerns about nuclear waste and the promises of the Yucca Mountain repository, will fuel Wattelet's presentation.
Tuesday features Regis McKenna, chairman of The McKenna Group, a global strategy consulting firm. McKenna will give an insider's perspective on the technology developments of Silicon Valley, assessing the costs and prognosis of continued advances in silicon sensors and smart sensing devices. Also on his agenda are biomedical sensors and human implants, microelectromechanical systems devices, and nanotechnology. He'll discuss what's new with incorporating optics into chips, as well as photovoltaics (a high-technology approach to converting sunlight into electrical energy) and the significance of integrating photo cells into structural products.
|What is nanotechnology?|
|Nanotechnology is molecular manufacturing-"building things one atom or molecule at a time with programmed nanoscopic robot arms," according to Nanotechnology Magazine (www.nanozine.com). It involves building molecular devices with extraordinary properties and requires individual atom manipulation and exact placement to get the structure you want.|
On Wednesday Bela G. Liptak, president of Liptak Associates, will take the wheel, focusing on the professional standing of instrumentation and control engineers and how we can build awareness of their positions in today's process environment-a need that's illustrated by the current trend in outsourcing this critical function.
ARC vice president Bill Moore will moderate a panel discussion, "Driving Operational Excellence in Plant Asset Management," on Monday. Users are reporting a 20% reduction in plant downtime and 30% reduction in maintenance budgets with predictive and proactive maintenance of assets. The discussion will focus on how plant asset management improves asset utilization, production capacity, maintenance costs, spare parts inventory, and uptime.
Industries' use of thermometry, space and astrophysics, medical and biological, geophysical, and food process are only a few topics the Eighth International Temperature Symposium will cover.
Attendees will learn how to detect gaussian perturbations in ultrasonic flowmeters and how to use three infrared laser diodes as a new sensing technology for plastic identification at the Sensors for Measurement and Analysis Symposium and product pavilion.
This year's Motion Control forum is part of the motion control, robotics, and expert systems sessions. Historically, topics have included SERCOS, PC-based control, soft motion, using the Internet in motion control, feedback improvements, I/O networks, linear motors, open architecture, and embedded Web servers. Attendees can ask questions after this round-table discussion.
Wireless sensing, e-manufacturing, and Internet technologies are just a few of the key qualifiers in this year's technical presentation topics.
Geof Brazier will explore intrinsically safe wireless sensing for pressure relief devices in his tutorial.
"Pressure systems and the devices that protect them require monitoring for process management and safety code compliance," Brazier said in his paper abstract. "The traditional approach to such monitoring uses hard-wired sensors connected by cable back to a local or centralized control center. For new facilities, such safety systems are designed relatively cost effectively into the plant. When attempting to upgrade existing installations, the cost of applying the same design standards is often prohibitive," he said.
"Users have looked to wireless systems" for savings over fixed wiring costs, Brazier said. And while expensive transmitters and receivers were historically part of early wireless systems, recent advances in wireless telemetry have "solved this problem and added the flexibility of long-life battery power or external power sources," he said.
Another wireless presentation will feature Eric Marske, who'll talk about the wireless LAN revolution and Ethernet barriers. "As Ethernet-based communication protocols open the future of industrial automation, true Ethernet speeds and security will be required for wireless solutions in industrial applications," he said in his abstract.
Marske's presentation will outline how IEEE 802.11b wireless LAN (WLAN) technology has evolved from interoffice networking to applications on the plant floor. "If the 802.11b WLAN technology is applied correctly, it can greatly enhance industrial Ethernet applications," he said. "This type of wireless Ethernet network can provide multiple configurations such as bridging remote Ethernet networks over distances of 5 miles, providing mobile Ethernet access from the office to the factory floor, or a combination of the two networks, all running at 11 Mbps data rate."
Walt Wick will present a self-contained computerized program to reduce the cost of typical in-plant maintenance and improve the first-time quality of manufacturing in his e-lynx presentation. Wick will use a hands-on demonstration with palm-held computers and clipboards for preventive maintenance to explain to major manufacturers and smaller subcontractors how to reduce waste and the overall cost of manufacturing.
"We'll focus on waste stream management, job descriptions, work orders, and trend analysis," he said in his abstract. "Goal setting must be a part of the manufacturer/contractor relationship and thus be quantifiable and realistic."
Wick said preventive maintenance is often "the most ignored aspect of manufacturing in order to get the production numbers off the shipping dock." Through a team approach, Wick hopes to achieve a "more harmonious relationship of shipping parts and producing them in a less costly environment" in his presentation.
Find out how the best and brightest companies have successfully integrated the tools of e-business throughout the enterprise, from electronic product catalogs and product configurators to e-commerce systems, during Shari Worthington's presentation, "Lessons Learned in e-Business."
"Integrating e-business into the manufacturing enterprise is all about streamlining information delivery and customer service to improve customer support," Worthington said in her abstract. "Automating and aggregating purchasing to cut handling and inventory costs and integrating sales channels into e-commerce initiatives" are also key.
Worthington hopes to teach attendees more about the "deep, dark mistakes that could cost your company millions," how to avoid them, and whether the e-marketplace is right for you. She'll use details of personal interviews with dozens of industry players to help prepare your company for an integrated e-business presence using the tools of the Internet.
Brad Carlberg will discuss Web-based human machine interfaces (HMIs) using active server pages, intelligent serial devices, HTML, SOAP, OPC, and ActiveX, to name a few. "Web technologies provide new opportunities to implement HMI applications," he said, providing a "bridge between current proprietary systems to an open environment based on Ethernet and Web technology."
Carlberg will talk about how the evolution of Web-based HMI has allowed real-time information from automation systems to be accessible to anyone in the corporation and offer interoperability using a flexible, open standard, providing new ways to access and deliver data in industrial automation.
More revelations in Internet technology will come from Andrew Montz as he embarks on his topic: XML document use for collecting data from a mixed SCADA node environment.
"The basic technology is that embodied in the support offered in MS SQL server for receiving XML documents of database inserts and updates," he said. "A well-formed XML document is posted to the URL of an IIS Web server. Within the document is a tag structure that can be associated with tables and fields in an MS SQL Server 2000 database. The document also contains a reference to an XML template file that includes information on whether the Web server should direct the URL document. Each device sending information can have a different set of XML tags."
Montz will give examples of applications, including gathering electric and gas meters from a city's infrastructure. "Because these meters were legacy devices, embedded servers were collocated with the meters to collect data from pulse and serial outputs," he said. "The servers then posted the data as fast as every 4 seconds when a programmable change occurred." IT
Behind the byline
Ellen Fussell is Assistant Editor for InTech.