Directing traffic smartly.

01/09/2019

In the 17th century, Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, the central figure in Rembrandt’s masterpiece `The Night Watch’ (housed at the Rijksmuseum, pictured above) provided safety and security in Amsterdam. Today, the city relies on the Verkeer en Openbare Ruimte to ensure safe navigation through the busy streets. (See reproduction of the famous picture at bottom of this article)

Amsterdam is the largest city in the Netherlands, with a population of 2.4 million. The city is also one of Europe’s leading tourist destinations, attracting around 6 million people a year. Amsterdam’s oldest quarter, the medieval centre, is very small and has an incredibly complex infrastructure, with roads, tunnels, trams, metro, canals and thousands of bicycles. This creates one of the world’s most challenging traffic management environments, which the office for Traffic and Public Space (Verkeer en Openbare Ruimte) meets through vision, action and modern technology. This is typified by the new intelligent data communications network being installed to support the city’s traffic control system, for which they have selected advanced Ethernet switching and routing technology from Westermo.

In 2015, the municipality of Amsterdam created its own team that was responsible for the development and operation of the data communication network that supports the Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS) in the city. Previously, this was managed by an external partner, but due to rising costs, and increasing performance and cybersecurity requirements, it was decided the best way forward was to take back full responsibility for the network.

Eric Bish, Senior Systems and Management Engineer and Project Manager and Albert Scholten, System and Management Engineer, were two key members of this team responsible for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems for traffic control in Amsterdam.

Albert Scholten

“The existing communications network supporting the traffic control system had served us well for many years, but it had become outdated and the daily costs to maintain the leased line copper network was very high. With the challenges the city faced going forward, we needed to modernise our systems,” said Scholten.

“The old network was mostly based on analogue modems, multi-drop-modems, xDSL extenders and 3G routers from Westermo,” explained Bish. “These devices have proved to be very reliable, so when we started to look at the requirements for the new system, Westermo technology was given serious consideration.”

Project planning
“We worked closely with Axians, our supplier of network services, and Modelec Data Industrie, the distributor of Westermo products in the Netherlands. The collaboration between the three parties was essential to the success of the project. Modelec Data Industrie are very knowledgeable about industrial data communications and during constructive discussions regarding the system requirements they suggested that Westermo technologies would be a good choice for building a robust and reliable network for the future.

“From our meetings a roadmap was established. Our long-term plan is largely based on having a fibre optic infrastructure managed by Westermo Lynx and RedFox Ethernet switches. However, installing new cables is a costly and time-consuming process, so where existing fibre optic cabling is not already available, we have found the Westermo Wolverine Ethernet Extender to be extremely useful. This device allows us to create reliable, high speed, fully managed network solutions using the existing copper cables linking the traffic light systems. For remote connections, between the edge networks and the control centre, we have used Westermo MRD 4G cellular routers, which offer a redundant SIM option and simplifies the process of setting up IPSEC VPN’s.”

Equipment testing

Eric Bish

Before a large-scale implementation of the new system could begin, the Lynx switches and Wolverine Ethernet Extenders were tested at some of the less critical road junctions. To assess the Westermo MRD 4G cellular routers, a mobile test system was constructed and taken to popular parts of Amsterdam during King’s day, the annual Dutch national holiday and busiest day of the year. Despite the huge crowds swamping the mobile masts, the routers delivered excellent performance.

“Having met our required standards during testing, the Westermo devices were deployed extensively throughout the city and are now providing the data communications for several major traffic control systems. Over 1300 pieces of equipment are currently connected via the new network and with the traffic control systems being constantly upgraded this figure continues to grow.”

Westermo offers a broad range of products suitable for traffic control applications, which has helped us to meet all of our needs for this project. We have found the technology to be robust and reliable. The devices consume very low power, which means they generate little heat. This is important, as the switches are often installed in cramped, unventilated cabinets with other electronics that can be damaged if they get too hot.

“The Westermo Lynx switch is very versatile, offering an array of smart features and network connections. For example, the SFP option gave us the ability to easily switch between copper and fiber wiring, while the serial port enabled connection to legacy traffic light systems. The option to perform text-based configuration from a console port has supported our need for fine granular control and rapid mass deployment of devices. Every device received a consistent configuration, but we had the flexibility to adjust the configuration of specific devices, where required. This functionality has enabled us to install all the devices in a little over 12 months. This helped us to make significant savings because the costly leased lines to the datacenter could be terminated sooner.

Network capability
“While we were installing the new network, we needed to retain the old system and move the functionality across gradually. However, with the cost of maintaining the old leased line copper network was so high, we wanted the new network to be very simple and fast to implement. We started with a classic layer-2 approach, consisting of an MRD router and up to six Lynx switches or Line Extenders connected to it. Every Traffic Light Controller was then connected to a Line Extender or switch, depending on the existing cabling in place.

However, because it is difficult, time consuming and costly to install and maintain a data network of this size within a city such as Amsterdam, we knew the new network would eventually have to be able to support more than just the traffic light systems. In fact, it must support camera surveillance, traffic information systems, automatic number plate recognition camera and even public lighting systems. Critically, these other applications must be isolated from each other for security purposes, while changes or additions to the network must also be simple to achieve.

“Efficient use of the cable infrastructure is therefore critical, which is why we selected switches with layer 3 functionality at the start of the project. This enabled us to create a layer-3 network design. A clever combination of OSPF routing, local firewalling and layer-2 and layer-3 features has yielded a very flexible, secure and redundant gateway network design. The network is now sufficiently resilient to withstand common issues, such as cable damage and power outages.

“Using the Westermo Redfox switches, we will soon couple our updated network to the fiber optic rings used to control the city’s metro lines. This will provide fully redundant gigabit connections to our datacenter for many of our surveillance cameras and traffic systems.

“Using Westermo technology we have built a robust and reliable networking solution that will last for a long time. The technology offers the functionality we need to modernise the network and enable us to make quick system upgrades over the lifecycle of the system,” Bish added. “As far as we are aware, this is the most advanced network infrastructure in place in The Netherlands and to date the solution has performed flawlessly. We expect that within five years the industrial network will cover the whole of Amsterdam and its surrounding areas and this will almost completely rely on gigabit fiber links, with only a handful 4G connections still required.”

 

Use case 1: Traffic light control
There are several hundred traffic light systems throughout Amsterdam. These work autonomously, but can also be controlled centrally, which is one of the most critical tasks for the city’s department for traffic and public space. In the event of traffic congestion, traffic control centre operators can manage the flow of traffic and if necessary, reroute traffic to less crowded roads.

The traffic light control systems interconnect several traffic lights. The infrastructure connecting the traffic lights is a mix of existing copper cables and new fibre cables. However, in order to connect a string of traffic lights back to the control room, the city has been relying on leased lines. This solution is not only expensive, costing around EUR 2 million per year, but also does not provide the reliability required for a system of this magnitude. The savings made as a result of replacing the leased lines with the Westermo cellular routers is estimated to cover the cost of the network upgrade project within just three years.

Use case 2: Environmental Zone Enforcement
An environmental zone has been established in the central part of Amsterdam with the aim of decreasing pollution from motor vehicles. Vehicles that are not environmentally friendly are prohibited to enter the `green zone’ and automatic number plate recognition cameras have been installed to ensure that the restriction is followed by motorists. Approximately 80 control points have been established at the entrances to the city to monitor about three million cars every day. Between one and five ANPR cameras automatically read the vehicle registration numbers as they pass the control points. The photos are processed inside the camera, converted into simple text information and sent to the control centre through a secure encrypted IPSec VPN tunnel using the MRD 4G cellular router. The City of Amsterdam plan to participate in the European C-ITS smart traffic project, which will allow real-time traffic optimisation. This will mean that there will be a requirement for more bandwidth and lower latency so in time, the mobile connections will be replaced with a fibre optic network, using for example the Lynx and RedFox switches.

Use case 3: Traffic observation and situation assessment
The Amsterdam traffic is continuously monitored from the control centre to help operators maintain the flow of traffic, reduce congestion and minimise the risk of accidents. Operators make decisions based on the information provided by hundreds of cameras installed across the city. Many of the regular surveillance cameras are connected to the network via Westermo switches. The real-time video feed from the ANPR cameras can also be viewed for traffic controlling purposes. These are connected to the control room using Westermo MRD 4G cellular routers, which provide secure IPSec encrypted VPN tunnels. When traffic congestion occurs, the traffic control managers are permitted to disable the environmental monitoring system and activate predefined scenarios that reroutes the traffic to dissolve the congestion.

De Nachtwacht (The Night Watch)

@westermo @hhc_lewis #Netherlands

Smart manufacturing standards.

28/11/2018

A major international standards program on smart manufacturing will receive end-user input from the International Society of Automation (ISA), the developer of widely used international consensus standards in key areas of industrial automation, including cybersecurity, safety and enterprise-control integration.

In early November (2018), the International Electrotechnical Commission held the first meeting of a new IEC systems committee on smart manufacturing in Frankfurt (D). An IEC systems committee is intended to set high-level interfaces and functional requirements that span multiple work areas across the IEC and its partner, the International Organization of Standardization (ISO), to achieve a coordinated standards development plan.

The definition of smart manufacturing to be used by new IEC systems committee is:

Manufacturing that improves its performance aspects with integrated and intelligent use of processes and resources in cyber, physical and human spheres to create and deliver products and services, which also collaborates with other domains within an enterprise’s value chain. (Performance aspects can include agility, efficiency, safety, security, sustainability or other indicators. Enterprise domains, in addition to manufacturing, can include engineering, logistics, marketing, procurement, sales or other domains.)

Major supplier and government organizations from across the globe were well represented at the Frankfurt meeting, but participation from end users in industrial processing and manufacturing was noticeably low. However, ISA’s long-standing focus in its consensus industry standards on end-user performance, safety, and security, will be important in filling that void, as evident already in widely used IEC standards that are based on original ISA standards: 

  • ISA-99/IEC 62443: Industrial Automation & Control Systems Security
  • ISA-95/IEC 62264: Enterprise-Control System Integration
  • ISA-88/IEC 61512: Batch Control
  • ISA-84/IEC 61511: Functional Safety
  • ISA-18 IEC 62682: Management of Alarms
  • ISA-100/IEC 62734: Wireless Systems for Automation 

ISA’s participation will be facilitated through an IEC organizational liaison by which ISA standards and technical reports, both published and in development, can be directly circulated and reviewed within the systems committee as appropriate.

“The liaison status will enable ISA to participate more efficiently than would the traditional country-based structure of the IEC,” points out Charley Robinson, ISA’s Director of Standards, who attended the Frankfurt meeting. “This is important and appropriate because ISA’s standards development committees are open to experts from any country.”

In fact, experts from more than 40 countries participate in ISA standards—many on the committees that developed the original work for the widely used IEC standards noted above.

@ISA_Interchange #PAuto @IECStandards @isostandards

Secure remote access in manufacturing.

24/07/2018
Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of obsolete industrial parts supplier EU Automation, discusses secure remote access and the challenges it presents.

Whether you’re working from home, picking up e-mails on the go or away on business, it’s usually possible to remotely access you company’s network. Though easy to implement in many enterprises, complexity and security present hefty barriers to many industrial businesses

Industry 4.0 provides an opportunity for manufacturers to obtain detailed insights on production. Based on data from connected devices, plant managers can spot inefficiencies, reduce costs and minimise downtime. To do this effectively, it is useful to be able to access data and information remotely. However, this can present challenges in keeping operations secure.

Secure remote access is defined as the ability of an organisation’s users to access its non-public computing resources from locations other than the organisation’s facilities. It offers many benefits such as enabling the monitoring of multiple plants without travel or even staffing being necessary. As well as monitoring, maintenance or troubleshooting is possible from afar. According to data collected from experienced support engineers, an estimated 60 to 70 per cent of machine problems require a simple fix, such a software upgrade or minor parameter changes – which can be done remotely.

Remote access reduces the cost and time needed for maintenance and troubleshooting and can reduce downtime. For example, by using predictive analytics, component failures can be predicted in advance and a replacement part ordered from a reliable supplier, such as EU Automation. This streamlines the process for the maintenance technician, flagging an error instantly, even if they are not on site.

The challenges of remote access
There are still significant challenges to remote access of industrial control systems, including security, connectivity and complexity. Traditional remote-access includes virtual private networking (VPN) and remote desktop connection (RDC). These technologies are complex, expensive and lack the flexibility and intelligence manufacturers require.

Additional complexity added by traditional technologies can increase security vulnerabilities. Industrial control systems were not typically designed to be connected, and using a VPN connects the system to the IT network, increasing the attack surface. It also means if a hacker can access one point of the system, it can access it all. This was the case in attacks on the Ukrainian power grid and the US chain, Target.

To overcome these issues, manufacturers require a secure, flexible and scalable approach to managing machines remotely. One option that can achieve this is cloud-based access, which uses a remote gateway, a cloud server and a client software to flexibly access equipment from a remote location. In this way, legacy equipment can be connected to the cloud, so that it can be managed and analysed in real-time.

Most manufacturers find that the benefits of remote access can offer outweigh the investment and operational risks. To counteract them, businesses should put together a security approach to mitigate the additional risks remote access introduces. This often involves incorporating layers of security so that if one section is breached, the entire control system is not vulnerable.

When implementing remote access into an industrial control system, manufacturers must weigh up all available options. It’s crucial to ensure your system is as secure as possible to keep systems safe when accessed remotely, whether the user is working from home, on the go, or away on business.

@euautomation #PAuto #Industrie4

Robust and reliable data communications support in Czech mining enterprise.

27/02/2018

In times of increasing digitisation of industrial processes, the importance of robust and reliable data communications is becoming more evident. The communication network is often critical to operations and failure to get data from A to B can have serious impact on production. Data networks supporting monitoring and control systems within mining applications require a special kind of robustness. Not only do the operating conditions include fluctuating temperatures, dust and dirt, but there is also constant vibration, which is extremely tough on network devices and cables.

The Vršany Lom brown coal surface quarry is using Westermo Lynx Switches and Wolverine Ethernet extenders to make up its entire data communications network.

The sheer size of an open-pit mine makes it difficult to maintain a data network and the need to constantly move mining equipment puts a considerable stress on the network cables.

Monitoring from the control room.

At Vršany Lom, one of the largest mines in the Czech Republic, all of these challenges have been overcome with the implementation of robust industrial networking technology from Westermo. Vršany Lom is a brown coal surface quarry located in the North Bohemian coal basin near the town of Most. The site is mined by Vršanská uhelná a.s., which is a part of the Sev.en group, a major European mining company responsible for the largest coal reserves in the Czech Republic.

Over the course of an eight-year period, Marek Hudský, chief technical engineer at Vršanská uhelná a.s., has strived to create the perfect monitoring and control system and supporting data communications network.

“The communications network is my responsibility and something I have designed, built and improved over many years,” explains Marek. “The continuous improvements have made a massive impact to overall production. The average time to transport the coal from the mine to the collection site has been reduced from 25 minutes to less than four minutes. On an annual basis this adds up to an extra month’s worth of production.

Control of the bucket wheel excavator is performed by the operator, but the communications network enables operation to be monitored from the central control room.

“This significant improvement has been achieved by reducing network downtime, which previously was very common and required many hours of maintenance. Today, interruptions to production due to network issues are rare.”

The Vršany Lom open-pit quarry covers an enormous area and mining takes place at several locations simultaneously. The coal is extracted using large bucket wheel excavators and loaded onto kilometer long conveyor belts that transport it to the collection site. Some sections of the conveyors are permanently positioned, whilst others are moved as the digging location changes.

Conveyor belts stretching out over many kilometers transport coal to a central collection point. The data communication cables are installed along the conveyors, connecting monitoring and control equipment for the excavators and conveyors to the control room.

The entire network is now running entirely on Westermo WeOS-powered devices, consisting of 60 Westermo Lynx switches and 40 Wolverine Ethernet extenders. The data communication equipment and cabling are installed along the conveyor belts. This connects several hundred sensors that provide critical operational data to the central SCADA system, which helps to ensure safe and effective mining. Fibre optic cables are located inside the permanent conveyors, with the Lynx switches installed in substations at set points along the conveyor belts. The fibre network is configured in a ring topology with Westermo’s FRNT super-fast ring reconfiguration protocol providing network reconfiguration times of less than 20 ms.

“The fibre network works flawlessly. The switches and cables have been in operation for quite a while now and have required very little maintenance,” explains Marek. “The real challenge is the data communication closer to the actual mining. This is where operating conditions are really tough due to continuous vibration and electromagnetic interference from the machines. Also, because the equipment needs to be constantly moved this exposes the cabling to constant wear and tear.

“We have been familiar with Westermo technology since the days of short haul modems. We knew they produced high quality products and when first introduced to the Wolverine Ethernet Extender we were immediately interested. At that point we were using a custom-made communication device, which was not really suitable for a tough mining environment. It caused regular network downtime, maintenance and production standstills, which was a completely unsustainable situation.”

“The first thing that appealed to me about the Wolverine was that was able to provide reliable data communication over regular twisted pair copper cables,” said Marek. “We use copper cables because they can withstand a lot more abuse than fibre before failing, however, when the digging location changes cabling is often bent, cut and sliced, which can reduce the quality of signal. . Despite this we are still able to achieve reliable data communication thanks to the Wolverine device which enables reliable communication even if the copper cabling is not in pristine condition. Secondly, the device had the robust characteristics that are needed to operate reliably in this type of environment. Finally, the Wolverine offered a lot of functionality, such as super-fast ring reconfiguration, LLDP and SNMP that enabled both a very technically advanced and very robust network solution.

“It has been quite a long process of continued improvement to get to where we are right now with the network in terms of functionality and reliability. Last year, I replaced the remaining legacy devices. We are now running the network entirely using Westermo WeOS-powered products and I am very pleased with the overall performance.

“We have always looked for that next improvement that will further strengthen the resilience of the monitoring and control system. By selecting Westermo products and utilising the WeOS operating system to its full capacity, Vršanská uhelná will now see many years of robust and trouble-free data communications.”

@Westermo #PAuto

Enabling simple electronic marshalling of pneumatic systems.

01/02/2018

The ASCO Numatics 580 CHARMs node enables simple Electronic Marshalling of pneumatic systems

Pneumatic systems are an essential part of many process plants, in industries such as chemical, life science and food & beverage, particularly those where ancillary machines are used. Although an essential part of the process, these machines are often stand-alone and are not connected back to the process control architecture. This could mean that should there be a problem with the machine’s pneumatic systems, it may not be communicated back to the control system, therefore leading to a breakdown of the machine. The plant may then continue to produce products that cannot go on for further processing or packaging.

Current architecture
Process control systems are normally able to accommodate pneumatics systems through the implementation of an additional fieldbus network, such as PROFIBUS-DP® or Modbus® TCP. However, this approach adds complexity through additional configuration and data mapping, and whilst supplementary diagnostics is possible, a second programming environment, with its associated costs, is not desirable and may not easily support communication and power redundancy.

In 2016 Emerson introduced electronic marshalling for pneumatic systems. This solution enables users to easily integrate the ASCO Numatics 580 Series valve islands, with Emerson’s DeltaV control system for a complete Emerson Automation I/O and pneumatics system solution for process plants.

What is Electronic Marshalling?
Control engineers and project managers working on continuous or batch-oriented processing plants will be familiar with the problems associated with commissioning I/O in distributed control systems. The traditional method involves field device connection through multi-cored cabling, wired to terminal blocks in control cabinets, with each connection then manually cross-marshalled to its appropriate I/O card. As system complexity increases and the number of connections accumulates – inevitable I/O changes abound – thus, difficulties arise in keeping track of each and every physical connection in the marshalling panel. Every change adds cost, delays, and most importantly risk to the project. Adding redundancy causes even more headaches. Furthermore, future maintenance and system modification is often made difficult with staff changes and system unfamiliarity, which can adversely affect down-time.

Whilst manual marshalling is still considered adequate for small projects, large-scale batch and continuous processes in areas such as chemical, pharma, and food manufacture – where lost production can result in truly excessive costs – increasingly turns to more risk averse and reliable process system design strategies.

Electronic Marshalling does away with the manual and labour-intensive practise of cross marshalling. The cables from the field are still wired in to the marshalling cabinet, but from there on in the connections to the controllers are handled electronically. It is now possible to map each I/O channel to any controller. Emerson manage this mapping with their CHARMs (CHARacterisation Modules). These are essentially analogue to digital conversion cards that may be characterised to perform any signal function (AI, AO, DI, DO, RTD etc.). They are ‘clicked’ on to CHARM I/O Cards (CIOC), which are in-turn mounted on DIN rail terminal blocks where field wiring is arranged; the field device is identified and the appropriate CHARM card is set up and Electronically Marshalled through a hidden digital bus to ANY controller in the system. Fully redundant power and communications connection is included, and autosensing each I/O channel means that identification, configuration, diagnostics and design changes are easily carried out by the DCS.

The technology provides many benefits, from the first design stages, to commissioning, and through the lifetime of processing oriented manufacture. As digital or analogue I/O of any type can be bound to specific controllers at any stage in the project without manual rewiring, hardware and design costs can be more predictable from the outset. Design changes – adding new I/O or changing I/O types – can be catered for without intensive labour and disruptive re-wiring costs. Projects become easier to scale, safety is assured. Configuration and diagnostics are taken care of by a single integrated software platform – Emerson’s DeltaV Explorer. Importantly the Total Cost of Ownership is significantly reduced, measured by increased operational certainty, process reliability and increased machine availability.

Integrating pneumatic valve islands into automation systems with CHARM technology.
The 580 Series CHARMs allows control engineers and project managers working on continuous and batch-oriented manufacturing projects a straightforward, cost saving and fast-track approach to the integration of pneumatic systems within the process control environment. The node facilitates single connection from the field to Emerson’s DeltaV™ DCS offering Electronic Marshalling, native configuration and diagnostics plus built-in redundancy – for a truly integrated system architecture.

•Download Whitepaper – 580 Charm

With the introduction of ASCO Numatics’ 580 CHARMs node, pneumatic systems’ integration with Electronic Marshalling is made possible within a single network platform – a one package and one supplier solution – for the first time. The 580 CHARMs node directly links to the DeltaV system via the CHARM baseplate and natively combines autosensing and Electronic Marshalling through redundant power and communication connection, harnessing the full native diagnostic capabilities of the DeltaV. From the DCS, each pilot valve is managed in exactly the same way as the other system I/O. The DCS can identify and marshal all the pneumatic connections through a single redundant connection with up to 48 valve solenoid outputs connected to each CHARM node.

The 580 CHARMs node interfaces with ASCO Numatics 500 Series valve islands. These high performance, “plug-in” directional control valves feature the highest flow capability for their product size, helping to keep machine footprints compact and lowering system costs, whilst a comprehensive range of accessories and options makes for easy installation, configuration and modification.

The cost and time benefits of simplified machine architecture
When compared to a manually, cross-marshalled, process manufacturing system for batch and continuous production scenarios, the benefits of a CHARMs technology based solution with Electronic Marshalling are apparent and compelling. When pneumatics require integration, and the solution is compared with the introduction of a fieldbus such as PROFIBUS-DP®, the benefits are even more convincing with the easy-to-use, task-based engineering environment that the DeltaV offers.

The elimination of a secondary network allows substantial savings in components, associated I/O, wiring, and commissioning time. The Emerson single network solution means single point responsibility for products, documentation and support, with savings for personnel, programming resources and system training. Reduced component count and direct connection equals a reduced risk of system failure. Design changes throughout project development and future troubleshooting is made easier with embedded intelligent control with autosensing and plain message workstation diagnostics. Shutdown time is significantly reduced thanks to integral diagnostics directly on the valve island or displayed on the DeltaV systems workstation. Reliable redundant connection ensures safety and reduces maintenance down time. Further compelling benefits include flexibility in process control thanks to every CHARM I/O from voltage and current sensors to alarms and pilot valves sharing the same DeltaV Explorer configuration, and being available in the ‘cloud’ to any controller in the network.

These factors combine for a tightly integrated solution for I/O and pneumatic valve islands that delivers more complete project and operational certainty, comprehensive control optimisation and processing reliability.

@ASCO_EU #PAuto

Society goes to the polls.

07/09/2016

Irish candidate goes forward for most senior role in Automation Society

The polls were opened recently for the election of leadership positions for 2017 in the International Society of Automation (ISA). The ballot is for election of new leaders by direct vote of eligible ISA members.

This year for the first time a candidate from the Ireland Section has been nominated for the position of President-elect Secretary. This position is a commitment for three years, the first year as Secretary of the Society, the second year as World-wide President and the third as Past President.

Those nominated for this (and indeed all officer positions in the Societed) are subjected to a rigorous pre-nomination process before their name is placed on the ballot paper. Nomination for an elected Society leadership position is an honour accorded to only a small percentage of the ISA membership.

Brian_J_CurtisBrian J. Curtis (G E Healthcare) Cobh, County Cork, Ireland (right), is one of the candidates this year. He has an impressive leadership background both in the automation industry and in other sectors industrial, commercial and recreational. He has 35 years Pharmaceutical Control Systems experience.

Speaking recently he told us that he has been a member of the ISA for over twenty years and has served in most offices in the very active local section. “I joined my local section to access ISA technical meetings, technical papers, standards and networking opportunities.” However he was also willing to participate more actively in the running of the Section and later in the greater Society, in Europe and Globally.

Brian served in many portfolios within the Ireland Section down through the years including a term as section president (1999-2000). He became Vice President District 12 of the Society (Europe, Africa & Middle East) in 2013.  He also served on the ISA Executive Board 2013 to date, and also on the important ISA Finance Committee. The various society offices involved visiting sections in Europe and the Middle East as well as attendance at various Society governance and  leadership meetings.  His service through the years has been recognised by the Society, as a recipient of the Distinguished Society Services Award, as well as recognition at Section and District levels. He says “My current challenge is working with ISA on our five strategic goals!”

electVoting in the Leadership Elections is relatively easy. Go to the ISA Home Page and look for the button “Vote Now” and follow the instructions.
Only eligible members may vote. You’ll need your ISA ID information of course.
The Ballot lists the candidates with a link to their Biographical details. The voting is simply a matter of ticking the candidate of your choice.

He shared his vision for the Society: “That ISA Sections and Divisions all work together so that membership and industry feel the benefits, both locally and globally, ensuring “ONE ISA” will prosper into the future.”

“I believe we must nurture the volunteer in the society and encourage sections, divisions and standards to work together across geographic and technical boundaries so as to harness and build upon the strength and integrity of ISA in meeting the automation challenges of the future.”

He is particularly in supporting the ISA’s pioneering work in the emerging area of cybersecurity. Industry and production methods are evolving at a fast pace and it is important to identify emerging trends and seize these as opportunities for our member’s and for automation.

He wants to strengthen the Society by encouraging co-operation and communications between sections, divisions, standards and all areas of ISA around the world. He is not afraid to support the tough strategic decisions that will allow ISA to continue to be the leader in the automation industry. It is important also to promote the lifelong opportunities that automation presents as a career for school and college graduates.

There are two other candidates for this position. They are Eric C. Cosman (OIT Concepts, LLC) Midland, Michigan, USA. He was one of the speakers at the groundbreaking Food and Pharmaceutical Symposium in Cork earlier this year. The other candidate is Glynn M. Mitchell (US Nitrogen) Greeneville, Tennessee, USA.

Although most of the Presidents of ISA since its foundation have hailed from the US there have been a handful of Presidents from other regions of the World.

#ISAuto #PAuto

Reduce data centre asset liabilities.

07/08/2016
How you implement RFID monitoring is critical to the performance of the system.

Harting_Data_Centre_AppWith regular headlines about the latest cybercrime attack stealing important or commercially sensitive data, the physical security of IT equipment is often overlooked. One area in particular is the almost casual theft of small pieces of equipment from the racks. For example, the latest helium filled 10TB hard drive represent a €700  (£600stg) investment and with up to 22 drives used in a 4U storage array, loss through theft can be substantial.

The constant monitoring of what equipment is located inside the data centre has additional benefits not only in terms of security but also in managing cooling air-flow requirements and power consumption, which support growing need to demonstrate compliance with Green IT initiatives.

In response, data centres have been increasingly looking for cost efficient solutions for key asset management. Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM)* is an emerging holistic management approach that combines traditional data centre equipment and facilities with monitoring software for centralized control. DCIM includes physical and asset level components and by combining both information technology and facilities management it raises the effectiveness of a data centre.

RFID has been seen by many as a key element to providing real-time monitoring of component location within the data centre. By installing passive RFID tags on every removable component of the rack data centre systems integrators and site operations managers can easily use them not only to record locations but more information about the device than they could before with standard asset tags.

But how you implement RFID monitoring is critical to the performance of the system.

Portable hand-held RFID reader systems have a very small UHF read range and only offer a slightly better performance than relying on paper records or barcodes because it requires employees to walk down aisles and identify the piece of equipment and its location. This is a very time-consuming task and as such is not undertaken very often. It also relies on the competence and integrity of the operator carrying out the check.

Fig1_HartingRFID

Fig 1

Up until now it has been unrealistic from a physical location point of view to directly integrate even the most compact passive RFID UHF patch antennas into existing data centre server rack arrays.

Typically, 4 antennas would have to be separately mounted either side of the front of each server rack, in both the upper and lower areas and carefully positioned to ensure there are no gaps in the RF field coverage. Correspondingly, with such an arrangement it would also be necessary to utilise multiple readers, resulting in excessive installed cost

Harting now have the ideal solution to remove this higher cost multiple patch antenna and reader arrangement with its innovative Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® coaxial cable waveguide antenna.

They can be directly integrated, with insulating spacers, onto the rear side of the front access door of each server rack. Only one of these Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® antennas needs to be fitted for a fully installed 45U sever rack. By fitting in an extended S-shape design (See Fig. 1) you can achieve the best possible RF field coverage of the complete rack. In conjunction with a single reader which has the required power to match the correct read distances, it can register passive RFID tags that provide specific item identification within a rack and additional sensor functionalities e.g. detecting empty or occupied slots, thus minimizing the complete data centre system installation cost.

The Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® is a traveling wave RFID antenna consisting of a coax cable that—when plugged into the antenna port of a Harting UHF EPC Class1 Gen 2 reader—conveys the reader’s RF signal along the cable’s copper core and to the antenna’s far end, where a coupling element draws the RF wave out and onto the cable’s exterior. When that signal reaches the reader, a metal protecting shield prevents the interrogator from receiving its own signal and interfering with its performance. N.B. The Ha-VIS LOCFIELD ® antenna should not be mounted directly onto a metal surface but raised-off slightly with insulating spacers.

Fig2_HartingRFID

Fig 2 – Harting HA-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® antenna

By its functional nature the Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® antenna facilitates real-time monitoring of movements in and out to the rack enclosure and is available in different lengths up to 10 metres and is 5 millimeters in diameter. If used with a high-powered reader, such as Harting’s Ha-VIS RF-R500 long range reader transmitting a signal of 4 watts (36dBm), it can read passive EPC Class 1 slot Gen 2 transponders located up to 2.5 metres away radially over its entire length.

Put simply Harting’s Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® antennas allow you to identify what is in a data centre rack, its population status and where a specific item is located.

* DCIM was originally defined in the US and describes a methodology of IT and facilities management.
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