Dec 16

Emerson Electric Sells Its Power Transmission Business for $1.4 Billion

Emerson Electric Announced on Monday its intent to sell its Power Transmission business to Regal Beloit Corporation for $1.4 billion in cash.

According to the Emerson web site, the Power Transmission business “Power Transmission Solutions is an industry leading producer of mechanical power transmission drives, components and bearings. Our products serve a wide range of industries and applications, including aggregate, forestry and wood products, grain and biofuels, power generation, food and beverage and HVACR.  Product offered include bearings, couplers, drive components, fearing and conveying components.  Brands include Browning, Jaure, Kop-Flex, McGill, Morse, and others.

According to the NYT article referenced below, the company will use the proceeds to buy back shares next year

New York Times Dealbook: Emerson Electric Sells Power Business to Regal Beloit

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Dec 16

Honeywell Outlook Presentation Reveals Impact of Falling Oil Prices

Everyone at ARC is asking us what we think of the rapid decline in oil prices over the past couple of months. Obviously the drop in prices is having an impact on projects that are happening right now and in the shorter term, but will this price decline be ongoing along with a decline in all the growth we have been experiencing in the industry?  It’s too early to tell, but the long term history of oil prices tells us that prices will increase again and the hunt for increasingly hard to find new sources of petroleum will continue.  The drop in oil prices has not halted all activity in the industry and is actually a benefit for some industries downstream.  Not many supplier companies have issued new guidance on how they believe plunging oil prices may affect their business performance, so naturally we were intrigued when Honeywell announced their revised guidance in their most recent 2015 outlook presentation.  The summary: Minimal impact to 2015, with some industries actually benefitting.  Slide 12 explains it all.

Honeywell 2015 Outlook (PDF)

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Dec 10

Yokogawa Ends the Year with a Bang: New CENTUM Release with Network-IO

The next generation of flexible, configurable I/O for process automation systems seems to be the hottest topic of discussion in the DCS world and several suppliers have released their version of DCS I/O solutions that can overcome the issues associated with late project changes and the need for greater flexibility and configurability.   Yokogawa is the latest major automation supplier to release their version of configurable I/O in the latest release of the CENTUM process automation system, which was officially unveiled at a press conference at Yokogawa Corporation of America in Houston.

Network-IO Combines Hardware Flexibility with Software Configurability

The new I/O offering is called Network-IO (N-IO), and it’s a major part of the new CENTUM system release, along with the new FieldMate Validator tool and Automation Design Suite (AD).  Let’s look first at Network-IO and how it’s different from some of the other offerings in the marketplace today. If you look at the current set of configurable I/O offerings today they tend to focus on one of two approaches — hardware based flexibility or software-based configurability.  Hardware-based flexibility involves some kind of plug in module that goes into a rack that characterizes the type of signal (AI, AO, DI, DO, etc.).  You can plug the module into any slot in the chassis so there are no limitations in terms of adding I/O points at late stages in the project and you are not bound by the limitations of hardware.  The other approach is to have software based configurability for different I/O points in the module, which provides similar benefits. Instead of plugging in a characterization module you configure the point depending on what kind of input or output you have.

The Yokogawa approach to Network-IO combines elements of both hardware-based flexibility and software configurability.  N-IO features an I/O module that can handle up to 16 I/O points and is software configurable so the end user can choose AI, AO, DI, or DO for each point.  Special hardware-based adapters can be used for pulse and relay I/O.  The new I/O module results in a 40 percent reduction compared to the current footprint of existing conventional I/O.

Intrinsic safety is another area that will be addressed by N-IO.  Yokogawa has a large installed base in EMEA, Japan, and Asia, where IS approaches are widely used.  As part of the release, Yokogawa also announced that it has signed OEM agreements with Pepperl+Fuchs and MTL, under which Yokogawa will private label base plates from both suppliers in combination with N-IO modules and the intrinsic safety barrier products from both companies.

Yokogawa Network-IO

Yokogawa Network-IO

 

FieldMate Validator will Reduce Installation Costs, Time to Startup

Network-IO allows for project cost reductions by decreasing the amount of time needed to implement the physical part of the process control system.  A system with configurable I/O allows “late binding”, where the software configuration of the system can be loaded into the physical system itself at a late stage in the project.  Another key area of cost reduction for process automation systems is field device installation, commissioning, and checkout.  Yokogawa’s new FieldMate Validator tool addresses this issue by interfacing with field devices connected to Network-IO to check the integrity of the field wiring and verify correct device operation.  Conventional methods for field device and wiring and checkout can be time consuming.  In a conventional system, wiring and instrument checkout had to be done upon complete system, wiring, and device installation.  Then it requires people in the control room on the DCS workstation and field technicians to check out the wiring simultaneously from both sides.

FieldMate Validator, which is part of the FieldMate field device management software suite from Yokogawa, establishes a connection with the N-IO module and can check the status of the wiring in real time for all instruments connected to the module without requiring the full installation of the DCS.  The ability to checkout wiring and field devices prior to full system installation can reduce project time to completion significantly because all these functions can be performed prior to system startup and it can be done with fewer personnel.

Automation Design Suite Provides new Perspective on System Engineering

The third major aspect of the CENTUM V6.01 release is the Automation Design Suite (AD Suite). The system engineering process is another area where users are looking to reduce time to completion, overall cost, and to enable new engineering approaches such as concurrent engineering where multiple engineers around the world can all work on the same project.  AD Suite is a fully integrated engineering platform that includes industry templates for engineering things like heat exchangers and other types of process equipment.  AD suite can manage functional design documents along with control program master data from the CENTUM database. This simplifies history management when programs are modified and makes certain that the latest design information is available when system expansion, modification, or maintenance is performed.  Yokogawa also offers a Global Application Repository that can be used to support projects so users can truly engineer from anywhere at any time.

This latest release of CENTUM can be viewed both as a series of new product offerings and as a suite of project optimization tools that are designed to address many of the key requirements of end users today – reducing overall project costs, shrinking time to project completion, and allowing for a collaborative environment in which users can best deploy their global resources. To do all these things requires a complete rethinking of traditional and conventional automation solutions, and this latest release marks a major step forward in these goals.

Link to Press Release: Yokogawa Releases CENTUM VP V6.01 Integrated Production Control System: Agile and Intelligent System Configuration and Engineering

 

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Dec 01

New Process Industry Wireless Survey by ARC Advisory Group

ARC Advisory Group is conducting a survey to evaluate process industry end-user experiences with wireless field devices (transmitters, valves, adapters, etc.) and with wireless for field mobility. In addition, ARC wants to understand end-user practices and plans for their future plant wireless deployments.

Who should take this survey?

End users in the process industries (oil, gas, petrochemical, chemical, etc.) such as plant managers, process engineers, project engineers, instrument engineers/technicians, operations personnel, or others in process manufacturing companies that use or plan to use wireless technology in their plants.

Others with wireless experience such as engineers and managers at EPC firms, consultants, system integrators, and wireless equipment suppliers are also welcome to respond.

Why should you take this survey?

ARC appreciates your participation in this survey as it will contribute to a valuable analysis of the industrial wireless market. In appreciation, ARC will send all valid respondents a complimentary copy of the aggregate survey results which will help you better understand where wireless technology is being used to obtain business value. ARC asks for your business email address for this purpose. This information will be kept confidential and only aggregate survey information will be reported by ARC.

Take the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ARCProcessWireless2014

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Nov 25

Enterprising Manufacturers Connect at Rockwell Automation’s 23rd Annual Automation Fair Event

Report from ARC automation expert Craig Resnick on the recent Rockwell Automation Process Solutions User Group meeting and Automation Fair last week in Anaheim:

Craig Resnick

Rockwell Automation’s 23rd annual 2014 Automation Fair event in Anaheim, California was held with an event-wide focus on The Connected Enterprise.  The Automation Fair event was held Nov. 20 and 21.  This year’s exhibits showcase advanced power, control and information solutions that secure shared information with suppliers and consumers across processes and facilities.  Attendance was about 10,000, with about 4,850 customers from around the globe, with over 144 exhibitors from members of its Partner Network program, which includes encompass partners, solution partners, OEM partners, alliance partners, universities, publications, and standards organizations.  9 industry forums were also held for OEM, Food & Beverage, Mining, Safety OEM, Connected Enterprise, Oil & Gas, Power & Energy, Safety, and Water & Wastewater.  At the event, attendees have free access to 99 technical education sessions, 18 hands-on labs, and 17 workshops to receive professional development credits.  This is often the driving force that helps Rockwell Automation’s customers justify event attendance.

Before Automation Fair, the annual Rockwell Automation Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) meeting was held on Nov. 17 and 18.  Attendance was over 900, from 30 countries and 22 industries, with 20 educational sessions being offered to attendees.  On Tuesday, Nov. 18, global media and industry analysts attended the half-day media forum, Automation Perspectives, to hear how manufacturers and producers are operationalizing The Connected Enterprise, discussing the benefits, such as improved flexibility and agility in meeting demand, and its challenges, including increased security risks. Speakers addressed the role of information-enabled machines at the site-level, best practices for employee training and utilization, and ways to manage uptime in facilities.  They also discussed the role of remote asset management, business growth with their customers, and how MES brings it all together.

There were a number of announcements made throughout the week:

Rockwell Automation and AT&T to Work Together to Make Smarter Machines

Rockwell Automation and AT&T are collaborating to improve remote asset utilization and connected machine management. The companies plan to deliver cellular solutions that help enable Rockwell Automation customers to more securely collect, manage and take action on data from industrial equipment located in plants and remote sites around the globe.

By bringing together the AT&T Global SIM and M2X Data Service platform with Rockwell Automation cloud-enabled service offerings, customers can connect automation assets and industrial machinery to remote experts. This allows for more timely and proactive preventive maintenance and operational improvement practices throughout the life of these assets.

The companies are also working to develop reference architecture and validated designs for cellular IoT deployments within industrial sites. These tools will help guide customers in the design and use of cellular connected assets in ways that can complement the existing in-plant network infrastructure. This will help plant owners to leverage connected machine management services offered by multiple equipment suppliers without overburdening their in-plant network infrastructure or violating enterprise security standards.

Rockwell Automation and Cisco Develop Design and Implementation Guide for Deploying Wireless Equipment in The Connected Enterprise

Rockwell Automation and Cisco announced the release of a white paper and design and implementation guide titled, “Deploying 802.11 Wireless LAN Technology within a Converged Plantwide Ethernet Architecture.” The detailed design guidance will help control system engineers, IT network engineers, and system integrators implement IP-based wireless networks.

The guide provides information on 802.11 wireless LAN (WLAN) solutions within a Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE) architecture, including design considerations for fixed position, nomadic and mobile equipment use cases. It also includes explanations for how to configure, maintain and troubleshoot WLAN for each use case, and detailed documentation on how the architectures were tested and validated by Cisco and Rockwell Automation. With this new resource, network designers can create a small network within a plant using a single autonomous access point, and scale up to create a larger, unified WLAN architecture.

The recommendations provided in these documents were demonstrated in the Industrial IP Advantage booth at this year’s Automation Fair event in Anaheim, California. The entire booth, a small-scale representation of the CPwE architecture, featured a plant operations control room equipped with a WLAN controller and Cisco Lightweight Access Point. The network extends to process and packaging areas in the booth via the Allen Bradley Stratix 5100 wireless access point/work group bridge, which was jointly developed by Rockwell Automation and Cisco.

Rockwell Automation and Cisco position its partnership as a resource in industry for helping manufacturers to improve business performance by bridging the technical and cultural gaps between plant-floor automation and higher-level information systems. Through collaboration on products, services, validated architectures and educational resources, the two companies seek to help manufacturers converge their network infrastructure, and bring together IT and operations using an IP-based network to help to achieve the connected enterprise.

Rockwell Automation Extends Modern DCS Capabilities with PlantPAx System Update

Rockwell Automation has added new virtualization, batch management and integrated motor control capabilities to its PlantPAx process automation system. With the latest system release, Rockwell Automation extends the capabilities of its modern distributed control system (DCS) platform to help simplify the system’s design, deployment, operation and maintenance.

Integrated Virtualization: Virtualization has become the rule more than the exception in global process facilities. It helps speed system integration time, lower hardware costs and burdens, and extend the lifecycle of plant equipment. The PlantPAx platform now makes it easier for users to implement virtualization. Built into the core documentation of the system is a selection guide that provides guidance and best practices for adopting a virtualized automation system.

Batch Recipe Management: Upgraded batch software more tightly integrates with the PlantPAx system for a range of applications, from small, basic sequencing to large, complex batch and sequencing. With new version-control capabilities, the software automatically tracks recipe changes and genealogy, and provides approval traceability in order to more easily manage recipes. This helps to simplify the management of recipes throughout their life cycle.

Rockwell Automation has also updated the batch and sequence manager in its modern DCS platform. This helps reduce engineering time for process machine builders and system integrators by allowing users to configure sequences directly in the controller. Incorporating batch management and optimizing continuous sequencing, the batch and sequence manager is suited for both skid control and stand-alone process units, such as mixers, blenders and reactors.

Intelligent Motor Control: Through integration with motor control devices – such as the Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 520-Series of AC drives, and Allen-Bradley motor starters and electronic overload relays – the PlantPAx system helps ease motor control configuration and delivers diagnostic information directly to the operator at the HMI level. This helps ease maintenance activities and helps allow operators to diagnose issues before they occur. System users can monitor key process conditions leveraging the EtherNet/IP network. Tying intelligent motor devices into the plantwide control architecture helps make an immediate, measurable impact on asset availability, operational efficiency and energy management.

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Nov 25

NAMUR General Assembly 2014:  Major Progress Towards Standardized Data Exchange between Computer Aided Design and Process Control Systems

An interesting report from our analyst Valentijn de Leeuw who went the NAMUR General Assembly recently.

Valentijn de Leeuw

At the NAMUR General Assembly  (November 6th and 7th, 2014) Thomas Tauchnitz of Sanofi reported about spectacular progress in adoption and implementation of a standard data exchange between Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) tools and Process Control Systems (PCS).  Mr Tauchnitz published a vision for “Integrated Engineering” that includes the possibility to configure and program a PCS in a generic manner in a CAE application, and export the configuration to a PCS where it is compiled.  In collaboration with Mr Tauchnitz, Siemens implemented this between COMOS and PCS 7.  The interface was made bidirectional because Mr Tauchnitz’ objective is to keep the asset information up to date in the CAE tool, that literally becomes an Asset Information Management (AIM) plus a CAE tool, where both engineering and maintenance activities work off the same, up to date asset information.

Simultaneously with the proof of concept, NAMUR worked on a specification for a standard data exchange format for DCS tags that was published a few weeks ago as NAMUR recommendation NE 150.  The standard preserves the intellectual property of all parties by providing a temporary data structure that contains the information related to a PCS object that a user of either system wants to transfer to the other system.  A ‘container’ serves only one transfer (it is not a databank), and has no checks for completeness, in order to be used in both early and advanced project stages.

Mr. Tauchnitz initiated a working group in the German GMA, including 5 NAMUR companies, 5 CAE suppliers, 6 Automation suppliers and three universities.  Much faster than expected, he reported that four CAE (Aucotec, Bentley, ESP, Siemens) and three PCS providers (ABB, Siemens, Yokogawa) implemented demonstrators of the standard.  In one year, the group built a working set of demonstrators, in which applications transfer information on a specific DCS tag to each other, using the NE 150 standard implemented in AutomationML.

In our ARC Europe blog, we provide more detail on the background of Integrated Engineering, and we elaborate on what we believe to be important potential benefits of using this standard, both for vendors and users.

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Oct 20

ABB Wins Order for FPSO in North Sea

ABB has won an order to provide both power and automation technologies for an FPSO destined to the Kraken oil field, which happens to be the largest subsea oilfield project in the North Sea.  From the press release:

The FPSO vessel will be delivered to EnQuest UK as the company plans to exploit the Kraken field’s estimated 140 million barrels of oil starting in 2017.

The vessel’s newly installed system will contribute to efficient and safe operations as well as reliable power distribution on board. The order includes an integrated e-house solution with drives and systems for electrical distribution, integrated control, safety and power management.  

You can read the entire press release here.

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Oct 17

Take our Best Practices for Process Safety Lifecycle Survey!

Survey is at:  Best Practices in the Process Safety Lifecycle

ARC is conducting a survey to determine the best practices for end users in the process safety lifecycle, from layer of protection analysis (LOPA) to SIL assessment, SIL studies, use of KPIs, and more.  Your responses will be kept strictly confidential and in appreciation for taking our survey, you will receive a free consolidated copy of the survey results once we have tabulated all the responses.  This survey should take about 15 minutes to complete.  For questions or further information, please contact Larry O’Brien, Vice President of research at ARC Advisory Group at lobrien@arcweb.com.  Thanks for taking our survey.

Who should complete the survey? 

Anyone with experience in managing process safety systems throughout their lifecycle is encouraged to take this survey.  End users, owner/operators, suppliers, system integrators, engineering firms, OEMs, skid mounted equipment manufacturers, and independent consultants are invited to respond, but we are primarily looking for input from end users and owner/operators.  Those who are not end users or owner/operators should complete the survey from the viewpoint of their main customers. It should take about 15 minutes to complete the survey.

Benefits of taking the survey 

You will receive a FREE survey summary report upon publication that will enhance your understanding of best practices across the process industries for managing the safety lifecycle.

Privacy 
All responses will be strictly confidential. No individual or company specific information will be disclosed. All responses will be tallied and only aggregated results will be published.

The survey can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZK3TJMT

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Sep 26

Siemens Acquires Dresser-Rand. Now what?

Siemens announced Monday that the company has entered into an agreement with Dresser-Rand to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Dresser-Rand by way of a friendly takeover bid. Siemens’ bid is unanimously supported by Dresser-Rand’s Board of Directors. The offer price is $83 per common share in cash, or a total transaction value of approximately $7.6 billion (approximately €5.8 billion).

With its comprehensive portfolio of compressors, steam turbines, gas turbines and engines, Dresser-Rand is a leading supplier for the oil & gas, process, power and other industries in the related energy infrastructure markets worldwide. The acquisition complements Siemens’ existing offerings, notably for the global oil & gas industry and for distributed power generation.

David W. Humphrey, ARC Advisory Group, commented, “This acquisition is in line with Siemens’ announced strategy to grow its presence and solution offering in the oil & gas industry with a focus on North America. In fact, plans are to make Dresser-Rand the ‘oil & gas company’ within Siemens, giving the company a strong base in the US from which to operate. Dresser’s portfolio complements Siemens’ strengths in turbo compressors, downstream and industrial applications and in larger-sized steam turbines.”

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Sep 25

New Immersive Technologies Expand Scope of Operator Training Simulator Market

ARC has just released its new operator training simulation study, and it shows some exciting new developments in a growing market. For more information on this study, please visit www.arcweb.com/market-studies/pages/operator-training-simulators.aspx.

The research study includes information about software technologies, tools, and methodologies for high-fidelity solutions that accurately replicate and simulate plant operations. Training simulators considered in the study include both field and console operator training simulators (OTS), 2D, 3D, generic high-fidelity, dynamic high fidelity, and immersive (virtual reality) training simulator (ITS) applications. Process industries and regional markets are also included.

The urgent need to quickly and efficiently transfer knowledge from today’s aging workforce to the new generation of workers is one of main reasons industrial organizations invest in simulator-based operator training.  “Process simulation training is vital to prevent incidents and accidents and help new operators understand how to respond quickly and appropriately to worst-case scenarios. While operator training simulators are already well proven in many industries, new virtual reality-based immersive operator training simulator technologies are emerging that create an even more realistic and interactive training environment that is particularly appealing to the new ‘digital generation’ of workers. As a result, these immersive operator training solutions are expanding the scope of the market, as reflected in our research,” according to Janice Abel, the principal author of ARC’s latest Operator Training Simulator and Immersive Training Simulator market study.

Immersive simulators provide a 3D virtual environment in which graphical representations of the users (avatars) interact with the virtual plant or upstream production assets, in many cases, even before the actual asset is completed. Suppliers are developing more and better immersive virtual reality training simulators for control room operators, but also for other types of workers. These simulators are very effective for training workers for hazardous industrial environments, both onshore and offshore.

According to the study, a number of factors will lead to an expanding market for operator training and immersive simulation solutions for the process industries, particularly in selected industrial sectors. The ability to transfer knowledge quickly is a key factor. The new tech-savvy, digital generation workers that are replacing the current workforce often lack the experience needed to operate a plant safely and efficiently. In some emerging countries, workers change jobs on average every two years, and this drives the need for simulator-based operator training solutions.

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