Friday, September 16, 2011

FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management Media Day at Lee College

The Fieldbus Foundation has announced plans to unveil its FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management (ROM) technology at an automation industry media day to be held on December 1, 2011, at Lee College in Baytown, Texas.

FOUNDATION for ROM provides a wireless and wired infrastructure for remote assets and applications, integrating wired infrastructure, remote I/O, ISA100.11a and WirelessHART®, providing users with direct access to device information and diagnostics. As the name suggests, FOUNDATION for ROM is targeted at applications such as pipeline SCADA, tank farms and terminals, and offshore platform automation. Remote operations management is one of the fastest growing fields in process automation, and FOUNDATION for ROM is well positioned to allow users to accelerate their next generation ROM strategies.

The media day will include both a demonstration of the progress that the foundation has made on the specification. The foundation will also incorporate a tour of the fieldbus training center at Lee College, one of the Foundation’s Certified Training Program (FCTP) partner locations and one of the largest and best equipped fieldbus labs in the world. Lee College is training the next generation of process automation operators and technicians.

End User and Sales Force Training Seminars Updates

Next week we have our end user seminars in Calgary and Fort McMurray, as well as our sales force training seminar in Calgary.  The Calgary end user seminar is pretty full, but there are plenty of openings at the sales force training seminar on September 21st and Fort Mc Murray end user seminar on September 22nd at the Sawridge Hotel and Convention Center right in Fort McMurray

Our valuable partner for both Calgary and Fort McMurray seminars is our Fieldbus Certified Training Partner (FCTP), the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).  SAIT instructors will be joining us for the presentations and demonstrations of FOUNDATION technology. 

Here is the agenda for Fort McMurray end user seminar and the link to e-register

On October 11th we host our end user seminar in Detroit -- an area that actually has quite a lot of fieldbus isntalled in industries such as nuclear power.  The Detroit agenda can be downloaded here

We will also be hosting a sales force training seminar in Detroit on October 12th. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Much Does Customization Cost the Process Industries?

One of the primary advantages of fieldbus is the elimination of customization in your project.  What do we mean by customization?  It's all the additional work you have to do to get everything to plug in and play together with everything else.  The early days of digital process automation were an ugly mess of different proprietary protocols, from proprietary digital protocols at the instrument layer to proprietary control networks at the control backbone, to an even bigger mess of proprietary technologies at the operations management and business layer. 

Users can spend more than half of their project costs on activities that can be directly traced to customization.  At the field device level, analog technology creates unnecessary work processes because of the lack of direct, bidirectional digital access to devices for commissioning and diagnostics.  Instrument engineering alone can account for 20 percent of overall automation project costs.  Even if you are using digital devices, customization and proprietary technology at the application and network level meant that much of the data from intelligent devices may not even be accessible, and certainly not easily so, by the people that need it when they need it. 

Many of the stringent objections I get from people in the industry regarding fieldbus technology is that many suppliers already have the capability to do some of the things that fieldbus does without fully adopting the technology, so where is the advantage in adopting fieldbus?  Eliminating the billions of dollars worth of customization seems to be a good reason.  You can have a proprietary digital protocol, a proprietary control network or backhaul network, and proprietary technologies for getting data from one place to another.  But what does that add to the installed cost of your application?  What does that do to the cost of your solution, from products to services to lifecycle and operational costs, maintenance costs, and more? 

That's the catch.  While the installed cost of an automation solution may be just a fraction of the total cost of a process automation project (in refineries automation can be less than a percent of overall project costs), the impact of the automation solution on the lifecycle and operational costs of a plant is immense.  The automation system is the ultimate factor in plant uptime.  It is your window into what is happening in your plant and your process.  If you are still relying on technology that is 30 years old, you should rethink your approach. 

FOUNDATION technology is an open specification that provides seamless data access from the field all the way up to operations management applications.  Supplier products are tested and registered to ensure they conform to this specification.  We then take input from end users and evolve our specification based on their functional requirements.  It's a level playing field, but suppliers also have the ability add their own specific functionality and expertise on top of the standard solution.  Looking at your supplier's fieldbus offerings is a good way to gauge their level of willingness to provide open solutions. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Terry Blevins of Emerson Talks About Optimizing Gain Through FOUNDATION Fieldbus Characterizer Blocks

Terry Blevins of Emerson Process Management has an excellent blog on modeling and process control.  Hist post of August 8th has some interesting things to say about process gain and how it can be optimized with FOUNDATION fieldbus.  Process gain is often called the "sensitivity of the process", and shows how the PV reacts in responses to changes in controller output (CO).  Blevins asserts that, from a process control perspective, process gain should be constant. 

Blevins states that it is not always possible to change valve characteristics to compensate for changes in process gain during commissioning because of the time and expense involved.  If you have a FOUNDATION fieldbus installation, however, the block structure of FOUNDATION technology allows you to use a characterizer block between the PID and analog output blocks.  You can achieve a consistent response to load disturbances and setpoint changes even if the final control element has non linear installed characteristics.  Read the rest of the post to get the whole story:

Terry Blevins Modeling and Control Blog: Commissioning Control Systems -- Installed Characteristics

Webcast on Designing Your First Fieldbus Installation Now Archived Online

Our first webcast with Control Engineering on designing your first fieldbus installation is now archived and available for download here.  (You have to register first, but it's fairly painless.)  The design phase has a huge impact on the effectiveness of the fieldbus installation throughout its lifecycle, where the real cost benefits of the technology are achieved.  Many first timers can fall into the trap of thinking about things in terms of 4-20 mA technology, and just because you have an engineering partner that may have done fieldbus installations in the past is no guarantee of success.  Check out our webcast for tips on how to avoid these and other common mistakes and get the most out of your fieldbus installation. 

Next month Mike Miller from Duke Energy and yours truly will have another webcast on implementing FOUNDATION fieldbus in a modernization or migration scenario.  Many end users are incorporating FOUNDATION technology into their modernization strategies.  We will post details as they become available. 

Control Engineering Webcast: Designing Your First Fieldbus Installation