By Nick Denbow, Industrial Automation Insider (IAI) November 2011
The OpsManage11 customer and partner 2011 worldwide series of events organized by Invensys Operations Management (IOM) and their global sponsor, Microsoft, kicked off with a well attended Europe, Africa and Russia (EURA) region meeting held at the modern CNIT conference centre, in the La Défense area of Paris, early in November.
Most of the exhibition stand displays of the software and systems were shown on thin-client based screens and keyboards linked to programmes hosted in cloud computers. This led to a discussion about virtualization, and IOM stressed that all their software systems have been thoroughly tested for operation in a virtual environment, whether using VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V, and this work was initiated over five years ago: being able to offer the IOM enterprise control system for use in a virtual computing environment was essential for them to be able to meet the requirements of their customers.
High availabilty virtualization
At OpsManage11, one of the product launches was of ArchestrA System Platform 2012 and Workflow 2012 software. In the full description, the ArchestrA System Platform 2012 is said to provide “A single, scalable and open platform for the entire spectrum of automation and information applications, addressing the business and functional needs of industrial automation, operations and information personnel. Its plant-model based, integrated configuration environment provides a logical representation of the physical processes being controlled and supervised, enabling rapid configuration and deployment of component object-based industrial applications. When deployed, the software improves performance; strengthens security; simplifies installation; increases operator and engineering productivity and efficiency; and supports new high-availability disaster recovery implementations using Windows Server Hyper-V virtualization from Microsoft. In addition, ArchestrA System Platform 2012 software supports all the latest remote desktop services that are part of Windows Server 2008 R2.”
Within this the interesting aspect is that even ArchestrA high availability systems can now be hosted on Hyper-V virtual servers, providing a change-over between servers that takes less than 45 seconds: and the systems can offer up to at least four separate servers to create a multiple fall-over back-up, for example for the extremes of reliability that might be needed on a nuclear power plant. “Many Windows Server Hyper-V
customers in manufacturing and processing need to integrate legacy automation, monitoring and reporting systems across different locations,” said Manlio Vecchiet, director of product management, Windows server and virtualization, at Microsoft. “We are pleased that to address this, Invensys Operations Management has created ArchestrA System Platform 2012. By supporting the full spectrum of Windows Server Hyper-V capabilities, Invensys is enabling the flexibility and technology their customers need to achieve real-time business optimization.”
Invensys half year results The Invensys Group half year results were published on November 4th, the first day of the main conference, so Sudipta Bhattacharya, president and ceo of IOM, commented on these in his keynote speech and in separate discussions later. IOM is undoubtedly the star in the Invensys crown at the moment.
IOM sales revenues were up 21% for the half year at GBP618m, driven by a doubling of the income from large projects, now 17% of the business. Orders were up 4% at GBP599m: however, during FY2011, last year, there had been a significant order from China Nuclear in this first half, boosting the overall order intake level – by excluding this contract value, the 20% growth in base business orders shows the IOM position is “surprisingly strong” with the “order base distributed across a broader range of customers”.
While the growth and spread of their base business was noted as a solid indication of the success of their systems, in the uncertain business climate, Bhattacharya highlighted two major award recognitions received by Invensys Operations Management this year.
First, Microsoft chose IOM as their Number 1 partner for the year, out of a possible 3000 current partners – Microsoft is the co-sponsor of the OpsManage events, which continue in seven further locations over the next two months, with a visit to Nashville in the USA following in the week after the European event. Other locations are in Australia, Tokyo, AbuDhabi, South Korea, Taiwan and India.
Also significant, Bhattacharya mentioned that a recent ARC report had placed IOM as the Number 1 world supplier of HMI software, with 22% of this market, beating Siemens, the nearest competitor, by a clear 4.5 percentage point margin.
So Bhattacharya’s strategy for IOM is seen to be working. Alongside that, and important for the European region, he has appointed Rob Rennie as president of the EURA region, as well as being in charge of the equipment business – measurement and instrumentation. Rennie is an internal appointment, a long term Eurotherm manager, and Bhattacharya is impressed with the results of tapping the talent pool available within the company.
Studying his approach more closely, the whole Invensys (ie IOM) concept with their InFusion enterprise control system is to empower their customer organization, ie their operators, to give them the input to make the right business decisions. Bhattacharya is using the same approach internally, with his engineers – his ideas people, in other words – so that they have assessed and negotiated development priorities and plans before he ever gets to hear about the ideas. When he does hear the final proposal, his decisions are also easier! He calls it a talent management programme, but it would seem also to encourage delegation, making the business run more efficiently, based on open communications.
Rob Rennie showed the same pragmatism in his approach when I tried to pin him down about the Invensys development of instruments with embedded wireless capabilities: his R+D budget is not limitless, so quite reasonably they have shelved that topic for the moment. There was some interesting contract news in the half year: IOM signed two contracts with TNK-BP, the third largest oil company in Russia, to provide comprehensive automation solutions and services to help drive control, environment and safety excellence at their Saratov 7 mtpa oil refinery in western Russia.
They also signed a multi-million dollar contract to implement an integrated refinery information system (IRIS) for Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Company (SATORP), a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Total France. In a strategic alliance with Wipro Arabia, IOM will provide an integrated InFusion enterprise control system solution for the 400,000 bpd refinery being constructed in Jubail.
Sharing the honours with Honeywell?
The news item that triggered some questions for me was that IOM particularly quoted performance improvements at the Codelco copper producer in Chile (1.8mtpa) as a result of the use of InFusion advanced control solutions. But Codelco was quoted the week before in the Honeywell video, mentioned on page 1 (of Industrial Automation Insider) this month, as an example of Honeywell systems improving plant performance. It appears Honeywell systems are primarily Invensys in the smelters, but Invensys advise that their InFusion advanced control, being DCS agnostic, operates on top of Honeywell and other control systems on several Codelco sites. Plus one aging Honeywell DCS was recently migrated to an Invensys system, in the InFusion ECS.