Charm informs!

Eliminating the ‘spaghetti wiring’
Emerson puts emphasis on ease of use as DeltaV S-series overturns 35 years of industry thinking on I/O

When DCSs first began to replace discrete recorders and controllers more than 30 years ago, the sight of operators seated in front of banks of VDUs rather than standing, white coated and clip board at the ready, in front of panels that stretched into the distance, seemed to usher in a brave new world. It was of course all an illusion and an illusion that has been maintained in pretty much the same way for the intervening three decades. For behind the back wall of the control room, little or nothing has changed. Even today, nearly 10 years after ratification of the infamous IEC 61158 fieldbus standard and just weeks after approval of its wire- less cousin, ISA 100.11a, getting the signals from the field and into the DCS still for the most part requires the same thousands of miles of cable, serried ranks of marshalling cabinets and multiple racks of I/O as it did in the days of discrete controllers.

IAI is Europe's foremost commentator on automation

IAI is Europe's foremost commentator on automation

● Wireless control comes a step nearer with the announcement by Emerson of full redundancy for WirelessHART-based Smart Wireless networks, interfaced with DeltaV S-series systems. The solution protects the wireless network from any single point of failure by allowing primary failover to ensure that data is always delivered, even if there is a malfunction. It includes redundant Wireless I/O, power and communications and a redundant Smart Wireless Remote Link which can be mounted in class 1/Div 1/zone 0. DeltaV S-series includes a special PID algorithm optimized for high accuracy control in wireless-based exception reporting environments. The concept has been validated on bioreactor control at bioprocess technologies supplier Broadley James and stripper and absorber control at the University of Texas.

● Emerson is to integrate its Syncade operations management (don’t call it MES) software suite with the existing PlantWeb installation at Lonza’s biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Lonza is a leading contract manufacturer of therapeutic proteins and monoclonal antibodies from mammalian cell culture and selected Syncade for the Portsmouth facility based on previous success at its facility in Visp, Switzerland. Emerson has been working with the company to develop a detailed understanding of the Portsmouth site requirements for electronic batch records. The new implementation will provide manufacturing IT support for work in process material tracking, equipment use status management, electronic manufacturing procedure execution, electronic batch record management, quality assurance review by exception and plant floor integration with ERP.

Fundamental rethink
But not for much longer, or so Emerson would have us believe. Last week in Orlando, as vice president of platform strategy Duncan Schleiss had predicted back in July (INSIDER, August 2009, page 1), Emerson took the opportunity of its Global Users Exchange in Orlando to re- veal arguably the most fundamental re- think of the DCS since the then Fisher Rosemount introduced DeltaV in 1996. In July Schleiss had predicted that DeltaX, as it had been dubbed by industry pundits, would make an impact “at least as big as DeltaV SIS”, the integrated safety solution which caused such consternation when it was first announced in 2004. What he now tells us he meant to say was “at least as big as DeltaV itself” but, in fact, the DeltaV S-series platform, as we must now get used to calling it, while the centre piece, is nevertheless just one aspect of the version 11 release which also includes major enhancements to all of the systems’ I/O processing, operator displays, asset management, batch capability and system security. And even then it’s not at this stage clear whether it’s as significant a development in the longer term as Emerson’s simultaneous announcement of its Human Centered Design Institute whose origins, one suspects, can be found both in Chief Strategic Officer Peter Zornio’s time with Honeywell and Schleiss’ own acknowledged admiration, if that’s the right word, for the Honeywell-led Abnormal Situations Management consortium. Despite those caveats, however, there seems little doubt that it’s the S-series platform and its innovative approach to I/O which most delegates, journalists and analysts will be recalling from their three days in the Florida sunshine. It is perhaps ironic that it was an almost as radical approach to I/O – buying it in from MTL – which was one of the key characteristics of the original DeltaV in 1996. S- series finally lays that concept to rest however with the introduction of what is being called ‘I/O on Demand’.

What, when and where
Because of its complexity, traditional I/O, wiring and marshalling had to be designed and committed to at an early stage in any project with the inevitable later stage changes incurring high levels of additional cost and delay. By contrast DeltaV S-series allows users to decide what type of I/O they want, be it wireless, FF, HART, AI, AO, DI, DO, DP, T/C or RTD; when they want it, be that for late project changes, during start-up, during operation or for temporary installations; and where they want it, in rack rooms, remote locations, hazardous areas, safety systems or harsh environments. Key to this flexibility is a second major innovation, Electronic Marshalling. Se- lectively previewed at last year’s Emerson Exchange in Washington, it essentially eliminates the need for a physical path from signal source to controller. Instead new single channel CHARacterization ModuleS or CHARMS relay I/O information via the Ethernet backbone to any controller and provide single channel integrity and flexibility down to the channel level. Not only does this approach drastically reduce engineering time but it ensures that changes to the original design can be readily accommodated without rewiring.

On a typical project with 15,341 hardwired points, Zornio claimed that Electronic Marshalling alone can cut the number of cabinets by 50% and their footprint by 40% while eliminating as much as 90% of intracabinet wiring. “We’re completely eliminating the ‘spa- ghetti wiring’ used to connect marshal- ling terminals to I/O terminals and then to controllers,” he said.

But the benefits of the new technology aren’t just confined to conventional wired I/O. The S-series also incorporates a major enhancement for WirelessHART networks which, in addition to the existing provision of native wireless integration, supports fully redundant communication and renders wireless applicable to a much wider range of monitoring and control applications. Indeed Schleiss claimed that “Forty-four percent of proc- ess control inputs can be wireless with no difficulty” while Zornio reckoned that I/O on Demand can cut wireless net- work design time by some 20%. “Getting rid of wires eliminates most activities associated with wiring design and installation. Cabinets, wire, terminations, cable tray design, fusing, installation drawings and a host of other activities are gone,” he stressed.

More bad news for MTL, and for all their rivals in the fieldbus power business, in how the S-series handles Foundation fieldbus, integrating fieldbus power conditioners on to H1 cards and thus eliminating third-party power conditioners and bulk power supplies. “S-series I/O on Demand lowers costs and engineering, while built-in diagnostics also lower cost, eliminate special tools and special training,” said Zornio.

Emerson claims that many of the enhancements incorporated in DeltaV S-series are a direct result of the new focus on usability at the centre of its newly established Human Centered Design Institute. According to its director, Duane Toavs, the ‘virtual’ institute was developed in collaboration with Carnegie Melon University and draws its staff from all of Emerson’s brands. The institute had its origins in the original work to develop Smart Wireless. It approaches the analysis of user needs by developing ‘personas’ and ‘stakeholder maps’, based on interviews with actual users, which in turn led to an understanding of how users interact with technology. “Process control technologies have come a long way in the past 40 years,” said Zornio. “But the industry has invested almost exclusively on feature and technology enhancement, instead of designing around how people actually use the technology.” The DeltaV S-series platform, with its claimed reductions in project engineering costs is one result of this
new approach but just as profound is likely to be its effect on theday-to-day activities of operators and maintenance staff. “We evaluated device interfaces across the industry and found a common problem,” said Zornio. “Routine steps which operators and maintenance personnel perform frequently were cumbersome, confusing and illogically laid out. It’s an endemic problem throughout the industry.”

Demographic challenge
Based on that analysis, all Emerson’s Device Dashboards have been overhauled while the same thinking has been incorporated into a complete set of new ‘visually-focused’ operator displays for DeltaV, designed to enable operators to recognize alerts more rapidly and gain access to the information needed to understand their nature and respond promptly and correctly. The contention is that only by putting usability and productivity at the heart of product design can the process industries meet the twin challenges of skills shortages in emerging markets and an aging experienced workforce in the developed world. “By putting increased emphasis on ease-of- use, we can meet this demographic challenge head-on and simply make it easier to extract value from technology investments,” argued Zornio. European journalists and analysts – and no doubt key users – will have the opportunity to make their own assessment when Zornio and Schleiss bring the S-series circus to Emerson’s Rijswijk, Netherlands facility in mid-November.

This article from Andrew Bond is taken from the October 2009i issue of Industrial Automation Insider (IAI).
See also #EMRex tweets rule, our account of this event!

One Response to Charm informs!

  1. […] in the top ten, the User Group Meeting in October at fifth and Andrew Bond’s article on their CHARM launch also in October at seventh. This probably reflects the open attitude to social networking displayed […]

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