Although we have presented a report on many usergroup meetings and press happenings we find it useful, and we hope our readers find it too, to reproduce other reports. Here we have Nick Denbow’s take on the Emerson Press Event in Brussels in November (Our own report!). This appears in the December issue of Industrial Automation Insider. In this action packed issue he also has further items on items on Rockwell Automation, Phoenix Contact, Wireless developments, “Son of Stuxnet” etc, and the, by now traditional, newsy back page – we hesitate in using the word gossip!
Emerson drives ahead on technology innovations of CHARMS and wireless – and targets energy efficiency
By Nick Denbow, Industrial Automation & Process Insider
The Emerson Group results for the year to 30 September 2011 continued their upward path, with their 55th consecutive year of an increased dividend per share, sales up 15% at $24Bn, and operating profit up 21% at 17.5% of sales, a record margin compared to all of the past 40 years. This is for a business that has the main divisions of Process Management and Industrial Automation, together providing over 50% of total group sales. The group return on capital is now 19.6%, and 59% of sales are outside the USA.
Bob Sharp, president of Emerson Process Management Europe (including Eastern Europe and Russia) expanded on these figures at their European press conference last month, explaining that his European sales were $1.5Bn, or 21% of the total Process Management business ($7Bn). After a dip in Process Management orders during 2009 and 2010, the intake globally, and for Europe, had risen substantially in 2011. With over 8000 employees, a significant network of manufacturing centres, and approaching 100 sales and service offices, the Process Management commitment within Europe was said to be considerable.
Innovations in technology
Travis Hesketh, vp for Emerson Process Management, plus wireless and PlantWeb director for Europe, presented two recent innovations in technology, to explain “the sort of things that Emerson are doing to help our customers be more successful, and to address the big problems that they have in front of them every day”. For six years Emerson have used their “Human centered design in automation” approach to understand these issues, to understand the jobs and the tasks they think their customers have to face on process plants, and make these easier to do. The issues customers face have developed and changed, particularly in these uncertain times, and now plant availability and resource efficiency have become more important, as well as energy use and monitoring.
Hazardous area CHARMS
The first innovation offered by Hesketh was the intrinsically safe version of the CHARMS intelligent interface modules for hazardous area use, as discussed at the Emerson Exchange, and in the INSIDER last month, page 8. CHARMS is designed to reduce the wiring complexity on plants, the engineering work and the documentation needed, so reducing project timescales and improving plant availability. But Hesketh also stressed the savings in resources by having remote CHARMS units in the field, connected to the DCS via a single Ethernet cable, and the indication was that there would be Zone 2 approved housings for such intrinsically safe module equipped CHARMS outstations available shortly.
Perhaps to stress the European links and input to the Emerson development projects, Hesketh also pointed out that the intrinsically safe technology embedded in these new CHARMS modules had indeed come from an active and co-operative relationship with Pepperl + Fuchs, using their acknowledged expertise in hazardous area protection systems.
Earlier, Hesketh had demonstrated another example of technology transfer, by showing that the concept of flameproofprotection had in fact started with the Davy miner’s lamp, first used in coal mines in around 1815. Apparently the example shown in the photo on right had been used by his father, some time ago, although not quite dating back so far. In contrast, the rather fetching black and yellow ATEX certificated intrinsically safe LED torch from ecom instruments presented to the members of the press for use should they ever find themselves in anywhere approaching Zone 0, was produced in 2010, and gave a much better light.
Emerson wireless is an ever-expanding portfolio
Travis Hesketh then presented a review of the ‘wonderful world of Emerson wireless’. This made the claim that 6100 of their Smart wireless networks have been installed, and have clocked up 580 million hours of operation to date. Above all their wireless systems have established and proved their integration compatibility with all of the major automation suppliers’ systems (eight of them). From Emerson, 17 distinct hardware product ranges now have a wireless capability, and the Thum adaptor makes many more accessible: Hesketh also promised 9 new Emerson wireless products would be coming in 2012.
At the Emerson Exchange user conference in the USA in October, it was reported in the press that there had been little discussion on the WirelessHART versus ISA100 topic, and the impression from Hesketh was that the market “pull”, with most customers accepting and adopting the Emerson WirelessHART system and sensors, had exceeded even their most optimistic forecasts.
The message was that the majority of customers do accept WirelessHART as the global wireless standard for sensors – as confirmed by the IEC. Hesketh stressed that whatever develops in terms of wireless standards for the future, because of the existing market acceptance and the WirelessHART installed base, “There must be backward compatibility in any future wireless standard”.
Market and sales dynamics
The adoption of wireless for sensors used in process automation has moved faster than many other industrial technologies, and is perhaps more akin to the growth of consumer product acceptance, such as is seen with mobile communication devices. Since industrial sales engineers are keen to become involved with a successful new product, but are sometimes reticent to adopt and enthuse over more technically challenging products from corporate acquisitions, it is interesting to speculate on how wireless might have had some motivational effects.
In the INSIDER last month, page 7, it was noted that the development of wireless gas detection systems
from BW Technologies (in Calgary, Canada) within Honeywell Analytical had brought together the analytical and process systems operations within the company, in a very positive way. These hydrogen sulfide (sulphide) detectors were for the Shah Gas project in Abu Dhabi.
Similarly within Emerson, it appears the customer demand for adding the wireless vibration monitoring systems from their CSI machinery health monitoring business has maybe triggered a stronger interest in the promotion/adoption of these products within the established process industry customers: wireless might be seen as the glue linking vibration monitoring and process measurement
sensors. From comments by Hesketh, it seems the customer doorways suddenly opened to approaches discussing machinery health monitoring by wireless – or maybe the barriers to entry were lowered sufficiently for the sales engineers to start raising the subject with confidence. The overall message is that with a wireless infrastructure in place, the customer is able to do tasks that were considered too difficult before, and calls for new applications. So what other doors are opening for Emerson…
Wireless gas detection
In listing some of the recently introduced Emerson wireless products, Hesketh included a Thum adaptor integrated with “a hydrogen sulphide (sulfide) detection system from Net Safety”, which triggered my interest, following the Honeywell activity in this area. Maybe there had been similar interest triggered in Emerson, because Net Safety Monitoring, the gas and flame detector company – specialising in the oil and gas industry – was acquired by Emerson back in July this year. The side panel has the full story, such as it is, but note that Net Safety are also based in Calgary, Canada.
Steam trap monitoring
The second innovation described by Hesketh was a Rosemount wireless acoustic transmitter, typically used to monitor and analyse the sound emitted by a high pressure gas, such as steam, when escaping from a faulty steam trap or pressure relief valve. The transmitter is a listening device, which is strapped to the pipework close to the potential escape point, which of course could be a steam trap, valve or seal that needs monitoring.
The immediate question is where did this new product come from, and why? Maybe this is from customer pull, with users asking for a wireless sensor to monitor steam traps, because energy costs and waste from losses has become a significant problem for customers recently. It is also a major opportunity for Emerson to further expand their wireless portfolio, ahead of other people. But where did the Rosemount steam noise analysis expertise come from? Surely the closest you would expect Emerson to get to steam control hardware is with Fisher valves, if we ignore Rosemount vortex and Annubar flowmeters?
Technology from Armstrong
The answer was provided by sub-titles on the Rosemount software, and the examples of steam traps, all on display in the press event, which came from Armstrong International, a major Michigan, USA based family run and fiercely independent company, which has been providing energy management solutions for industry for the past 110 years. Armstrong in fact launched their own SteamEye WirelessHART based steam trap leakage monitoring sensors and systems nearly five years ago (See IAI 31 January 2007). Emerson has benefited from a significant input of Armstrong expertise in designing this Rosemount 708 Wireless Acoustic Transmitter (that seems to be the product name being used, not the Rosemount WAT), and as the press release says, the product is “Backed by Emerson’s proven experience in Smart Wireless field instrumentation”.
The Rosemount 708 press release also mentions that about 20% of the steam leaving a boiler is typically lost through faulty steam traps. In refineries, and other process plants, this is a major on-going problem, and these represent the target for Emerson’s new ‘Smart Energy Initiative’, offering efficiency services for steam systems across industry. More of this will be reported next month.