Aug 31

For Developers: FDI Integrated Development Environment now Available

End users have struggled with different forms of device integration technology over the years, including EDDL and FDT (Electronic Device Description Language and Field Device Tool).  The FDI effort aims to rationalize the worlds’ leading technologies for managing information from intelligent field devices. With FDI, managing the flood of information from today’s intelligent devices will get much easier. FDI will allow users to focus on how to best use their applications instead of worrying about how everything will connect together. FDI also means reduced development costs for device and system supplier

From the FieldComm Group and Fieldbus Central Blog:

The FieldComm Group today announced release of the first update to its newest tool deliverables, the FDI Package IDE and the FDI Common Host Components. Version 1.1 of the development tools introduce exciting new capabilities for FDI product developers including an automated device package test tool, support for PROFINET based device packages, and support for developing device packages capable of offline configuration, including upload and download features.

Since the dissolution of the FDI Cooperation July 28, 2015, both PROFIBUS and PROFINET International and FieldComm Group, as co-owners of the tools and components, have partnered together to support, maintain and enhance FDI products. Development of a single software product across all protocols will be performed at FieldComm Group in collaboration with PROFIBUS and PROFINET International through the Group’s working group model. FDI tools and host components are currently available for purchase from FieldComm Group across FOUNDATION Fieldbus, HART and PROFIBUS/PROFINET protocols.

FDI makes it easier for automation suppliers to develop and integrate intelligent devices because suppliers only need to create a single, unified package for each intelligent device that can work with all host systems and tools. This reduces overall development costs, while preserving and expanding existing functionality. Users will also find it easier to manage information from intelligent devices with a single device package, instead of managing multiple file types for disparate solutions and investing significant capital in custom integration efforts to connect multiple technology platforms.

FDI Package IDE 1.1 has been feature enhanced with the following improvements;

  • Device Package Test Tool
    Enables automated testing of device packages
    Support for PROFINET
    Tool now supports HART, FOUNDATION Fieldbus, PROFIBUS and PROFINET
    Offline Configuration Capability of Devices
    Enables configuration of devices prior to connection to the system
    Upload/download Features
    Enables offline configuration to be downloaded/uploaded on the system
    Bug Fixes

The FDI Device Package IDE is a tool for device developers to create FDI Packages and includes everything a host system needs to integrate the intelligent device into their system. With FDI, a single FDI Device Package makes it easier for device suppliers to develop and integrate their device across a wide range of host systems and protocols.


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Aug 28

John Rezabek on How Fieldbus is Getting Easier

I have some background with fieldbus as some of you may know.  One of my compatriots in the world of fieldbus is John Rezabek of Ashland Chemical in Lima, Ohio.  John is the chairman of the end user advisory council for FOUNDATION fieldbus technology.  You may not know that there is a big Usability Initiative at the FieldComm Group to make FOUNDATION fieldbus easier to manage than analog technology.  You can read more about the Usability Initiative in John’s latest article in Control Magazine, where John is a regular columnist.

Some of the key issues being tackled by the initiative include easier device replacement, device templates, and more.

From the article:

There comes a time when the systems (DCS) people want to go home in the evening, and adrenaline-powered 14-hour days are no longer the norm. High-dollar corporate, consultant and contractor resources go on to the next job. And this is where fieldbus’ regimented commissioning process becomes a challenge. Everyone doesn’t train or even want their instrument technicians to click the mouse on a DCS engineering interface. My personal experience: Even Bubba and Mongo can be trained to be respectful of the DCS, and have enough skills to commission most devices without calling out an engineer. But many plant cultures forbid this or abhor the very thought, and the ensuing struggle and confusion around a simple device replacement has, in numerous instances, caused them to dismiss fieldbus as “too hard,” fleeing back to analog technology of the 1960s.

John Rezabek: Can improved usability shift the image that “Fieldbus is too hard?”

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Aug 28

Oil and Gas Programs at Upcoming Emerson Exchange

The Emerson Exchange is coming up from October 12-16 in Denver.  Jim Cahill over at Emerson Process Experts has posted a nice summary of oil and gas related programs at this years’s event.  You can check it out here.

Oil and Gas Programs at the Emerson Exchange Denver Conference

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Aug 26

Schlumberger to Acquire Cameron in Monster $14.8 Billion Deal

Just got this from our Senior Analyst for Upstream Oil and Gas Tim Shea.  Looks like it is indeed a good time to buy in this depressed oil and gas market.  I could be wrong but I think this is the biggest deal yet since oil prices tumbled.

Tim Shea

ARC Senior Analyst Tim Shea

Although there have been several acquisitions in the oil & gas segment over the last many months, most have been comprised of one E&P company acquiring another company’s acreage or perhaps an oil or gas project as the selling company needed to raise funds to pay down debt or ensure a dividend payout. Schlumberger’s recent announcement to acquire Cameron was interesting on several fronts.

Schlumberger Limited (NYSE: SLB) and Cameron (NYSE: CAM) today jointly announced a definitive merger agreement in which the companies will combine in a stock and cash transaction. The agreement was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

First, some of the details of the actual transaction are outlined below.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cameron shareholders will receive 0.716 shares of Schlumberger common stock and a cash payment of $14.44 in exchange for each Cameron share. Based on the closing stock prices of both companies on August 25, 2015, the agreement places a value of $66.36 per Cameron share, representing a 37.0% premium to Cameron’s 20-day volume weighted average price of $48.45 per share, and a 56.3% premium to Cameron’s most recent closing stock price of $42.47 per share. Upon closing, Cameron shareholders will own approximately 10% of Schlumberger’s outstanding shares of common stock.

Schlumberger expects to realize pretax synergies of approximately $300 million and $600 million in the first and second year, respectively. Initially, the synergies are primarily related to reducing operating costs, streamlining supply chains, and improving manufacturing processes, with a growing component of revenue synergies in the second year and beyond. Schlumberger also expects the combination to be accretive to earnings per share by the end of the first year after closing.

The transaction combines two complementary technology portfolios into a “pore-to-pipeline” products and services offering to the global oil and gas industry. On a pro forma basis, the combined company had 2014 revenues of $59 billion.

The transaction is subject to Cameron shareholders’ approval, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. It is anticipated that the closing of the transaction will occur in the first quarter of 2016.

ARC has opined in the past that with oil prices now again at lower levels, oilfield services companies that deliver innovative technology and greater integration while improving efficiency will outperform the market. ARC also believes that, low oil prices notwithstanding, subsea projects will comprise an ever growing share of hydrocarbon production in the future.

The merger makes sense given the existing OneSubsea joint venture between the two companies and that the new entity will enable integration of Schlumberger’s reservoir and well technologies with Cameron’s leadership in surface, drilling, processing and flow control technologies. Deep reservoir knowledge further enabled by instrumentation, software and automation, will launch a new era of complete drilling and production system performance.

ARC believes that if oil prices continue to trade in the $40’s and $50’s per barrel for the remainder of 2015, this will not be the last oil & gas merger that we will be blogging about. There is a Chinese proverb (or was it a curse?) that says something to the affect, “may you live in interesting times”. Well, in light of recent stock market gyrations and other geopolitical events, these are certainly interesting times indeed.

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Aug 18

Emerson signs 10-year agreement with BP for enhanced oil and gas project execution and operational reliability

Emerson announced yesterday that they had signed a major long-term agreement with BP.  ARC has been saying for some time that end users will be increasingly relying on automation suppliers to help them reach desired levels of operational excellence.  This long-term agreement is a great example of that and we look forward to seeing the results.  It also appears to represent an increase in the scope of supply from Emerson to BP to include valves and instrumentation and SCADA systems.  From the press release:

BP and Emerson have signed a global agreement for Emerson Process Management, a global business of Emerson (NYSE:EMR), to provide automation technologies and aftercare services for BP’s upstream oil and gas operations. The new 10-year agreement extends the existing arrangement between the companies, allowing Emerson to provide an expanded scope of technologies and expertise that help ensure safe and competitive projects and support BP’s Field of the Future® program for enhanced operating efficiency and oil recovery.
“This agreement further underscores BP’s commitment to safe and reliable operations, as well as our commitment to remaining at the forefront of upstream oil and gas technology,” said Adrian Luckins, vice president of global project solutions at BP.
In addition to automation that helps companies like BP run their processes smoothly, safely, and efficiently, Emerson also provides services and technologies to reduce project cost and schedule risk and to improve reliability and reduce expensive downtime in ongoing operations.
The new agreement expands the companies’ existing relationship on upstream projects. Under the scope of the new agreement, Emerson will continue to supply automation system technologies, including distributed control systems and safety instrumented systems, but will now also provide valves and measurement instruments as well as technologies for supervisory control and data acquisition, asset management, and machinery health monitoring.
As main automation contractor, Emerson will also continue to deliver a range of project and support services that include system engineering, installation, configuration, testing, and ongoing support. The agreement also provides for ongoing maintenance of existing systems.
“We appreciate BP’s continued confidence in our proven ability to execute large, complex oil and gas developments,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “Our team welcomes the opportunity to put that experience to work as we help BP operate its assets safely and responsibly, get to first production more quickly and easily, maximize operating efficiency, and optimize production and yield.”
This new agreement builds on the successful collaboration between BP and Emerson on a number of major upstream projects around the world. Emerson is currently providing automation services to BP for a floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel for the Quad 204 development and Clair Ridge offshore platform, both in the North Sea to the west of Shetland, and for the Chirag Oil Project and Shah Deniz Stage 2 project in the Caspian Sea.

Press Release: Emerson signs 10-year agreement with BP for enhanced oil and gas project execution and operational reliability

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Aug 18

Siemens Names Jürgen Brandes as new CEO of Process Industries and Drives

Siemens has named a new CEO of the Process Industries and Drives division.  From the press release:

Jürgen Brandes (54) has been appointed CEO of Siemens’ Process Industries and Drives Division, effective October 1, 2015. He will succeed Peter Herweck (48), who is leaving the company at the end of the fiscal year. Brandes has been at Siemens for 25 years and is currently CEO of the company’s Mobility Management Business Unit. He previously held a variety of positions in Siemens’ automation and drives technology business both in and outside Germany. “We’d like to thank Peter Herweck for his many years of dedication in a wide variety of positions at our company, including, prior to his appointment as Division CEO, several years in China and as head of Corporate Strategy. We wish him every success in his future career,” said Klaus Helmrich, member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG.


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Aug 18

Siemens Q3: “Solid Q3 performance, softening market environment”

Siemens recently released their third quarter results, which are summed up nicely in this investor presentation.  As we said in previous quarterly results posts, suppliers are having their share of challenges in the automation business.  Siemens recent reorganization into Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives provides us with a little more granularity into how the company is doing in the process business versus the discrete business.  Digital Factory sales were up three percent in the third quarter of 2015 versus the same period last year, while orders for DF were up 6 percent for the quarter.  Revenues for Process Industries and Drives were down 4 percent for the third quarter versus the same period last year, while PD orders were down 19 percent.

Siemens cited weaker performance in China and in the power and renewables sectors as key headwinds.  Siemens also reported a “Strong translational tailwind from FX on orders (+8%) & revenue (+9%)”.  Moderate organic order decline of 5 percent for the overall company was attributed to the gas, power, wind power, and process industries and drives businesses.  All other businesses grew organically for Siemens in the third quarter.  Siemens also closed the much talked about Dresser Rand acquisition on June 30.

Aside from adverse conditions in key industries and regions such as China, Siemens also cited geopolitical headwinds as a key challenge for 2015. and the company expects overall revenues will be flat in 2015 vs. 2014.

Siemens: Solid Q3 performance, softening market environment

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Aug 12

NAMUR NE 148 and Modularization of Automation: Read this Paper

German automation trade organization ZVEI has recently published a white paper on the increasing trend toward the modularization of process automation and automation in general, which is embodied in the recent NAMUR NE 148 recommendations.  ZVEI is a German lobby group for the electrical industry at the national and international level with more than 1,600 members.

For those of you not familiar with NAMUR, it is a group comprised solely of end users and systems integrators in the European process industries. NAMUR represents approximately 15,000 process control experts, of whom approximately 300 are active in 33 working groups. NAMUR pools their experience to create best-practice documents and other aids that help member companies fulfill their functional requirements. Member companies include names like Shell, BP, Dow and Akzo Nobel. NAMUR does not create standards, per se. Although many of its members also sit on standards committees outside of NAMUR, the purpose of the organization’s recommendation documents is to give the user some guidelines and best practices and to guide suppliers as they develop new products and applications.

ZVEI NAMUR NE 148 White Paper

ZVEI NAMUR NE 148 White Paper


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Jul 30

Bloomberg: “Oil Producers’ Ugly Duckling Refineries Just Turned Into Swans”

One of the unexpected side effects of lower oil prices and oversupply is a resurgence in the refining and downstream sector.  ARC has certainly noticed this over the past year and Bloomberg has published an article talking about this very issue.  We are also seeing some long-postponed maintenance and modernization projects starting to come back online as a result of this newfound love of the refining business.  Let’s hope it continues and contributes to a recovery in the automation market.


Bloomberg: Oil Producers’ Ugly Duckling Refineries Just Turned Into Swans

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Jul 30

Schneider Electric Posts H1 Results: “headwinds from O&G and China are higher than expected”

It seems like a common pattern here among the automation suppliers — declines in overall revenues but organic growth is improving.  Schneider Electric is no exception, posting its first half and second quarter results yesterday along with several other suppliers.  Schneider reports an overall increase in revenues for the company of 9.8 percent for the half, but for the Industry sector (Invensys) organic growth was down by just over 5 percent for the half.  More information is available from this quote in the press release:

Industry (21% of Q2 revenues) was down -4.2% year-on-year, temporarily impacted by the Invensys
integration. Western Europe was flat as growth in Italy and Spain, driven by OEM exports, was offset
by a soft market in Germany and France. North America was down due to lower industrial investments
related to the decline in oil prices and strong U.S. dollar. Asia Pacific declined, penalized by the
slowdown in China while Japan performed well. Rest of the world was slightly up.

Everybody’s in the same boat right now, Here’s some additional insight into the performance of the Invensys business:

Performance in the first half was penalized by Oil & Gas and one-offs. Revenues were impacted by
the ramping down of the China Nuclear project as well as the change in fiscal year closing in Q1.
Underlying performance was slightly down as field devices declined ~20% due to Oil & Gas
headwinds while the project business was flat to slightly down in H1, but improved in Q2. Software
orders were up in Q2. Margin was penalized by the one-off impact, decline in volume, negative mix
and continued R&D investment for future growth. However, margin is expected to improve in H2.

Press Release: Schneider Electric First Half and Q2 Results

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