January/February 2013
Automation Update

AF confers with White House on cybersecurity and economic threats

Representatives of the Automation Federation (AF) met with President Barack Obama's staff to help confront two serious threats to U.S. national security and economic growth: cyber-attack and the lack of advanced manufacturing skills among American workers.

During late November and early December, a contingent of AF leaders and staff traveled to the nation's capital to attend a series of high-profile meetings on cybersecurity with White House National Security experts and U.S. Department of Homeland Security personnel, and on American workforce development with officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

These prominent meetings are the latest example of an ongoing collaboration between the AF and the federal government to formulate and support the passage of cybersecurity legislation through Congress, and to build the next generation of automation professionals that is critical for the future of advanced manufacturing.

The Automation Competency Model, developed through a partnership with the Department of Labor, is a detailed framework that defines the specific industry, workplace, and academic competencies required to succeed in automation careers.

Valve and instrument recycling program

Emerson Process Management now offers a cash-back valve and instrument recycling program. The recycling program gives plant sites with a control valve boneyard greater residual value for used or inoperable control equipment. Using bins provided by Emerson, the recycling effort provides free pick up and shipment from the plant site to the Instruments & Valve Services recycle center, rapid evaluation of valve and instrument cores, and prompt payment with an itemized transaction report. 

The recycling program provides greater return on original investment than traditional scrapping practices. It also helps prevent unnecessary waste of potentially useful materials. While the program focuses on Fisher control valves and Rosemount instruments, to keep recycling efforts seamless and simple, Emerson is accepting non-Fisher valves as well.

The Instrument & Valve Services recycling program is accessible through the network of North American Emerson local business partners.

Clean air initiative for aging U.S. power plants

The combination of an aging coal-fired fleet, increasingly stringent EPA regulations, and an abundance of natural gas are driving change in the power industry that will result in a future landscape that looks much different from today's version. As utilities work through the process of coming into compliance, some plants will retire, others will be retrofit with air quality controls, and new generating capacity will need to be constructed. In response to this changing landscape, ABB decided to launch its new Clean Air Initiative to ensure that the company's power plant and utility customers are aligned and protected against the many challenges faced by the power generation industry. 

The initiative is led by a cross-functional team that aims to make it easier for customers to access the full value of ABB expertise in products and services. In addition to the obvious needs in power generation, the retirement of generating assets in certain areas will create pockets of grid instability that must be addressed. Drawing on years of experience, ABB and its grid systems business in North America will consult with its customers on the best possible courses to remedy grid instability and to take responsibility for turnkey installation of solutions, including static VAR compensators, static synchronous compensators, and capacitor banks.